“American Sniper” case and the concept of a fair trial

Home S&S Opinion “American Sniper” case and the concept of a fair trial
“American Sniper” case and the concept of a fair trial
State District Judge Jason Cashon presiding over the capital murder trial of Eddie Routh on February 12, 2015 (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

By MAX GALLARDO
Staff Writer

According to CNN, Texas jurors found Eddie Routh guilty of the murders of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, as well as his friend Chad Littlefield.  However, this conviction was not without controversy. There had been a dispute prior to the case about whether jurors who had seen the movie “American Sniper” could truly be partial since the movie portrays Kyle as a war hero.  In the end, it was deemed unnecessary to replace jurors that had seen the movie, and the trial commenced with about one-third of the jurors having seen the movie. Despite Routh’s plea of insanity, jurors found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

With the understanding that the movie portrayed Kyle as a highly patriotic American hero, I feel that allowing those who had seen the film to be jurors was a violation of Eddie Routh’s right to receive a fair and just trial. Although it is doubtful that Routh’s sentence would have been altered with a change in jurors, and I am in no way implicating that his ruling was not the moral choice, I feel that if the Justice Department were to truly maintain the concept of a “fair” trial as listed in the Bill of Rights, those who had seen the movie should have been replaced with those who had not. A man’s life should not be decided by those who have any sort of biased opinion towards the case and could be potentially influenced subconsciously by the portrayal of the murder victim as a hero by the movie industry. Although the jurors told mainstream media outlets that the movie did not influence their decisions, it is not certain if that could actually be true, as the subconscious part of our mind absorbs information and inputs feedback into our decision-making process without our knowledge. I feel that though the ruling was morally correct, it was not made in as professional a manner as a trial deciding the life of a man should have been.

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