Thursday, February 16, 2006

CNN's Nancy Grace

Greetings from Seattle! I'm on the West Coast for a couple days attending an FAA conference on synthetic vision. After today's session, I went back to my hotel and hit the gym before going out to dinner with Kristin, an old Aero/Astro friend. It seems that I can't escape CNN whenever I'm in the gym, and this time someone on the treadmill tuned to Headline News for today's episode of Nancy Grace. After watching about 20 minutes of her show, I have to say that I would prefer to watch an hour of Lou Dobbs instead (and you know how I feel about Lou Dobbs).

Anyway, tonight's one and only story was the arrival in Massachusetts of Neil Entwistle, a man charged with the murder of his wife and family. I'm not versed in the details of the case, but I'll assume from the tenor of the discussion on Ms. Grace's show that there is strong evidence against him in the crime.

Two things greatly annoyed me about the coverage of his arrival. First, it was that this particular detail seemed pretty insignificant but was bathed in attention. They kept repeating footage of the aircraft carrying him landing at KBED, his being escorted off the plane and into a State Trooper's cruiser, and being driven off. The story could have been condensed to once sentence without any loss of detail. "Murder suspect Neil Entwistle, accused of killing his wife and family, was returned to Massachusetts to face homicide charges." That's it. That's all you need to say. You don't need to waste an entire television show on this one fact.

Instead, Ms. Grace kept asking her guests seemlingly pointless questions. "What jail is he being held at?" "What is the courthouse like he will be tried in?" But it was not the silly questions that were annoying, but her editorializing. For someone whose website on describes her as having a background as a "former violent crimes prosecutor", she demonstrated a remarkable lack of understanding of American concepts of due process and constitutional rights. Even her guests had to remind her that people were entitled to representation while at trial. She spoke a lot about wanting him to get the death penalty, which does not exist in the Commonwealth, and talked at length about how the prosecutors should add as many creative charges to his indictment as possible so that he gets punished more. Call me an idealist, but I think people should be charged with the crimes they were accused of committing, not some trumped up other charges that exist only to extend the punishment. Later, she expressed shock that his defense attorneys, who are public defenders, were paid for by the state. How outrageous that this murderer should be represented in court. Surely she understood that fact when she was a prosecutor, or maybe she filed motions in all her cases attempting to remove the representation of her defendents.

It seemed to me that, if given the chance, Nancy Grace would espouse some kind of medieval street justice, not our time-honored constitutional principles of due process. Anyone she deems a criminal deserves no rights, no representation, and should be tortured and shot on sight. While I understand that many victims of crime would want to do just that to their attackers to acheive revenge, it is not a practical or legitimate means of carrying out justice. Instead of ranting about it, let the prosecutors, defense attorneys, and juries do their jobs. If the evidence is as compelling as Ms. Grace seems to believe it is, then they should have no trouble convicting him and sentencing him to life in prison.


Post a Comment

<< Home