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The Fourth Estate: A Vital Component of Our Justice System
By Cynthia Hujar Orr
President's Column columns.
It is alleged that Jordan Brown, 11 years old, shot his father’s fiancée in the back of the head with his shotgun and then trundled off to elementary school with his sister. He will be exposed to life imprisonment without parole in an adult prison unless he admits the offense. At least that is the effect of the judge’s order, which refuses to transfer him to juvenile court. In Pennsylvania, anyone accused of murder, regardless of age, is charged as an adult and, if underage, must demonstrate they should be tried in juvenile court.
Of course, it is ridiculous that an 11-year-old should ever be subjected to adult incarceration, let alone for the rest of his life. But what is even more disturbing about the Brown case is the way that the media and the court apparently accepted the police theory as a given. For the media, his guilt was a foregone conclusion. One reporter pressed me to agree with as much.
I cannot understate the importance of the media to the fair administration of justice; t
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