Celebrity Justice

The jury finds the defendant not guilty. People hear this phrase in most celebrity cases. Unfortunately, that is not always the correct verdict. With celebrities becoming more involved in criminal acts, the justice system is becoming more of a divided system. On one side, they have regular citizens and the other consist of the rich and famous. By creating these imaginary sides, everyone is defeating the purpose of the Bill of Rights, which states that everyone is to be treated equally, to be granted a fair trial, and make every trial public.

In the present time, the justice of America can be bought and sold to anyone that is well known or famous, but for the average citizens it is mandatory to go by the exact text, no exceptions. For an average case of theft, the criminal is more likely to serve up to or more than two years in prison. In an average case of theft for celebrities, the criminal is more likely to be fined, receive hours of community service, and have a private trial with no media or publicity in the courthouse.

A famous actress known as Winona Ryder was convicted of shoplifting more than five thousand dollars of merchandise at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Three months after her trial she was ordered to only pay a fine and take part in community service hours. Having money and fame can change things for the better. If a normal person was to shoplift at a major department store, he or she would be looking at Cooper 2 prison time, outrageous fines, and community service. For the average person when a crime is committed it is looked down upon and criticized.

However, the celebrities are praised for their wrong doings and make a mockery out of them such as Winona did at the time of her trial. "She was arrested December 12 after allegedly shoplifting approximately $5,000 in clothing and accessories. At the time of her arrest, she was in possession of the painkiller oxycodone without a prescription. Ryder has pleaded innocent to all charges and is out on $20,000 bail" (Buzzle). Earl Ofari Hutchinson states that, "A few months after her arrest for shoplifting, a doe-eyed Winona Ryder sported a "Free Winona" T-shirt on the cover of W Magazine.

The actress followed up her cover photo-op with a shoplifting skit on Saturday Night Live. NBC billed the show, "She'll steal your heart and more" (Hutchinson). If our justice system was acted upon the way it is written, then the fact that you are a celebrity or an average person should have the same punishment no matter if the crime is shoplifting, murder, insider trading, or rape. Everyone is created equal therefore, the normal American citizen needs to be treated equally and everyone tried in a courtroom should have a public case. The public is makes up America.

The Bill of Rights state all cases are to be open to the public, meaning the media and public are allowed to sit in and watch. In most courts around the United States all cases are open to the public, but in celebrity cases they are all closed to the public. The judges state they close the courts because of crazy fans, mobs of people and interference with the jury. However, the real reason they close the courts is to let the defendant's deal and plea with the judges and jury. Linda Deutsch states that, "In Cooper 3 Jackson's child molestation case in California, the judge has sealed almost all documents

and has imposed a sweeping gag order. In the Kobe Bryant rape case in Colorado, a gag order also restricts comment by the two sides, and many hearings on the accuser's sex life are held in secret. In New York, Stewart's judge closed jury selection to the media and the public. In all three cases, the judges cited fears of sensational publicity tainting and interfering with a fair trial" (Deutsch). Having publicity in celebrity courtrooms should be allowed to prove they are not above anyone else in America and to let people frown upon them because of what they do wrong just like normal people.

The Justice in America is taking a turn for the worse because of people like celebrities that take advantage of everything it has to offer. This system is not the wheel and deal justice system, it is the constitutional law that protects the innocent and punishes the guilty. Instead, the constitution is protecting the guilty and punishing the innocent. The justice system is supposed to set examples for people to fear the punishment of crimes, instead it is showing people that if they have money or a little bit of fame then they do not have to have fear because they can control your own justice.

The media picks and chooses the right time and case to shed light on. Celebrity cases seem to inquire more looks because the public is generally more interested in the lives of the people we look up to such as the singers, dancers, rap artists, actors, actresses, and comedians. Is it the media's fault that all of this publicity grabs the attention of gossip seeking people? It seems to be a consensus that celebrities are more important, more influential, and even in some cases, viewed as better people than the average man or woman. Why should they be Cooper 4 allowed special treatment in jail, such as the Martha Stewart case?

Although Martha committed a felony she was tried out of the state in which she committed the crime. According to CNN, "Less than a week before her deadline to report to a federal prison, U. S. celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart spent the weekend partying with friends at a Bahamas resort" (Martha Stewart's). She was then sent to a prison where the environment is so called "laid back. " If an average person were to commit that crime they would already be in jail. They would not get to choose when they wanted to go, and party the night before. They would have to do what the judge ordered not want they wanted to do.

Actions like these take the justice system and segregate the two types of people. The bad thing about this is that the public is just letting it happen. No one is taking a stand or fighting for equal justice. They just keep letting the rich and famous run all over them. If it were not for the public the rich and famous would not be the people they are today. They need normal people and in return they need to act fairly when questioned with a crime or any wrongdoing. People see these cases on television and just sit there and watch while their rights are being altered for the celebrities.

Would they alter our rights if someone were to get into trouble? Of course not, the courts would go by the book and give them the maximum punishment. They hire attorneys of the highest prestige, the best that money can buy. If the money is right, the blind scales of justice may tip in the favor of the convicted or accused, not because evidence is lacking or they are innocent, but because they have the money to buy services not available to regular people. People that are rich and famous have it good everywhere they turn. They have Cooper 5 money, fame, fans, and get out of jail free cards.

Our Society that we live in needs to stand up for what is right, and reunite the American Justice System into one legal system, instead of having to separate sides. Everyone needs to be treated equally whether you have one dollar or one million dollars, whether you are famous or have no friends. Everyone deserves to be treated equal and to be given an equal opportunity. Media circuses, special treatment, defense attorneys and bails that are mere pocket change when compared to the millions of dollars these celebrities have on a yearly basis all make the justice system seem to take "special care" in these certain cases.

They are plastered all over television, radio, magazines and newspapers. The problem is solely the idea that justice can potentially be bought with the right connections and the right amount of money.

Works Cited

(2002, July 16). Reality bites for Winona Ryder. [Editorial]. Buzzle. com Deutsch, Linda. "Judges treat famous differently, media lawyers argue. " Messenger- Inquirer 24 July 2004.