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Sale of Witness, Juror Stories

October 05, 1994

I don't know about you, but I sure feel much better now that Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and state Sen. Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco) have made it illegal for witnesses to accept money from the media for their knowledge in regard to a pending case (Sept. 27). You know what would happen don't you--give the little people a dollar, and they would proceed to sell their mother, brother, sister, cousin, etc. I think the very idea behind the measure (now law) is insulting. The truth is the truth, no matter how it is said, how it is arrived at, or when it is said, or if there is money paid for the sharing of that truth.

Everyone in the courthouse (except the witnesses) are paid to search for the truth. All are well paid; some are paid so much it leaves the realm of believability, yet no one questions the morality of their motives. Why do this to witnesses? Why is the standard different for them? Does the veracity of an individual need legislation to be kept intact?

The real reason is that the public in aggregation is not very cohesive. It is easy to pass law in this area because integrity is something the "little people" will not argue against; however, we do have the ability to judge an argument on its merits rather than its dollar value. Thank you very much!

BRIAN C. ROCHELEAU

Chatsworth

* The American Civil Liberties Union has put its obtuse foot in its hyper-liberal mouth once again.

Arguing against a bill signed by Gov. Wilson to curb the sale of crime witness and juror stories to rabid media hounds, the ACLU whined: "Imagine the results if this statute had been in effect when the Rodney King beating tape was sold to the news media."

If the law had been in effect then, Los Angeles residents might have been spared one of the most disgusting exhibitions of human behavior in this city's history--the 1992 riots.

R. L. LAWRENCE

Los Angeles

* Re "Perspectives on Courtroom Television," Commentary, Sept. 27:

What price is justice? It appears to me that free access to a trial is not a right when a judge can block news coverage. If the citizens of Los Angeles are the ones who are paying the bill, then it should be apparent that the citizens of Los Angeles, through their elected officials, have the right to auction air time on high-profile court proceedings. Let the networks bid.

JOHN McCORMICK

Long Beach

* The Simpson trial gives a clear example of the corruption that has become part of our legal system. Obstructionism has become an art form. A system designed to efficiently seek the truth has become a theater where the desire for truth has been subordinated to winning at any cost.

The legal community should hang its heads in shame. Instead of serving society, they have become an organization of self-service. As long as the money stream continues to flow, attorneys will do everything in their power to hide the truth. Greed and hubris have replaced service and edification.

There is no way that anyone could justify the absurd legal gymnastics taking place in our courtrooms. At its best, it is parody. At its worst, it is fraud. The simplest of minds can see that a once-proud profession has become a brotherhood of self-service.

If the public doesn't curtail this insanity, we will not long be an ordered society. Society has to take some of the responsibility. It has allowed a few elitists to debase the "common law."

PATRICK McALLISTER

Alhambra

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