Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Privacy-schmivacy; it doesn’t matter anyway

Privacy-schmivacy; it doesnt matter anyway

So I get my jury duty notice in the mail. I know I’m supposed to show up at my arranged time. I know that I’m supposed to answer questions when asked. I specifically know that, if chosen, I may not, under any circumstance, discuss any portion of the trial outside the courtroom. I’ve yet to actually be summoned for court duty, but that’s just common sense, right?

Apparently not.

At least not according to 20-year-old Hadley Jons. Just one day before the prosecution had a chance to finish the trial which she was a sworn juror, the barely legal Detroit woman posted on her Facebook profile that she was “actually excited for jury duty tomorrow. It’s gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re guilty.”

I’ll give a mental cookie to anyone who can spot this chick’s mistakes in that statement.

First, aside from it being just plain wrong, discussing the trial in any fashion is strictly prohibited and an issue that’s covered by the lawyers at the beginning of the jury selection process. She agreed to it. She swore that she understood it fully and would uphold it to the very end. Excuse me, Ms. Jons, but a day before the trial is not the very end.

The defense attorney in the case, Saleema Sheikh, whose son found the wall post, said, “I would like to see her get some jail time – nothing major, a few hours or overnight.” Sheikh continued, “This is the jury system. People need to know how important it is.”

If you’re going to take on a responsibility, be it for the government, your friends, your parents or anyone else, understanding the guidelines of that job is key to success. You also must prove to the people around you that you are not, in fact, as dumb as a post. No pun intended.

Second, how on earth was it going to be fun or amusing to tell a person that they’re guilty of a crime and will be punished accordingly?

This is another human being’s life and whether they have committed a wrongful act or not, a sense of decorum should be expected. That is especially true for that man or woman’s jury of peers.

Third, is nothing about privacy sacred anymore? With Facebook and Twitter, people have the ability to expose the innards of every aspect of their intimate lives with the entire world. People are constantly posting whatever they feel like, regardless of whether it is even true or respectful.

As much as I love the connection to my Facebook comrades, I don’t need to know when they’re in the bathroom, getting a haircut, reeling because they missed an episode of “The Jersey Shore” or wandering aimlessly through the streets of confusion. Nobody does. Not only is it just too much information, but it can be down right dangerous telling everyone where you are, when you’re gone, how long you’ll be there. It’s a burglar’s dream.

Jons was replaced and reprimanded the next day by Circuit Judge Diane Druzinski who also stated, “You don’t know how disturbing this is.”

In similar bad judgment call news, veteran Washington Post sportswriter, Mike Wise, tweeted about a made-up suspension for Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (In case you haven’t been keeping up with your national sports news, Roethlisberger was recently accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student.)

In an attempt to expose the dangers of today’s fast-paced reporters sending out unverified stories, Wise wrote in 140 characters or less about Roethlisberger’s fictional five-game suspension to show how easy it was to write uninformed. Since several online journalists break news on Twitter then follow up with blogs and articles, and because Wise is a respected and trusted writer, his Roethlisberger “example” spread quickly.

Honestly, what did he think was going to happen? He purposely put out fabricated information to show how people would believe it.

Publicly apologizing Monday night, Wise stated that he “made a horrendous mistake” that cost him some of his “own credibility,” but started with “I was right about nobody checking facts or sourcing.”

Yes, Mikey, you were and what a fabulous point you got across. Now if you would please pack up your things for your one-month suspension from the paper, that would be swell.

I’m all for social experiments and the freedom to say whatever you feel like wherever you want. However, when your reputation and your career are on the line, I think passing on that idea should be your first response.

Debra Flax is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs on Thursdays.

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