After the Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, Kobe Bryant, and O. J. Simpson cases failed to result in convictions, the debate has intensified over the role of celebrity in the criminal justice system, says the New York Times. Defense lawyers suggest that ambitious prosecutors go after the innocent or bring exceedingly weak cases, which jurors spot. Deciding the fate of a celebrity under intense media scrutiny could be so much pressure that jurors simply hold prosecutors to a higher standard, says the Times. Or, as prosecutors say, celebrities can afford such good lawyers that they can beat any charges. Jurors might sympathize with the plight of the famous as targets of the unscrupulous.
“My own view of the rule is that most celebrities have more of a problem establishing their innocence,” said Robert Morvillo, who defended Martha Stewart. Marcia Clark, who unsuccessfully prosecuted Simpson, had the opposite view: “The case becomes so serious and so important, the standard of proof grows higher and higher and higher. Guilt beyond reasonable doubt becomes guilt beyond all possible doubt.”