The Plain Dealer went a bit over the top in a preview of the murder trial of Biswanath Halder, says Ted Diadiun, a columnist for the paper. Halder is the man accused of a 2003 shooting spree at Case Western Reserve University that ended with one person dead and three wounded. The newspaper not only laid out the prosecution’s ample case against Halder but recounted four damning admissions from him that, because they were told to a team of court-appointed psychologists, will be inadmissible in court. Publishing those details as jury selection began “was irresponsible timing,” Diadiun said.
Although a jury was selected anyway, Diadiun wonders “how many capable people were winnowed from the process because they had read details of the case that as jurors they would be forbidden to know. If we can assume that most thoughtful citizens at least look at a newspaper from time to time, the quality of the jury pool had to have been significantly diminished.” Diadiun says it is fine to report key information on cases; he disputed the timing of this story.