Why can't the media report on legal stories with some modicum of understanding? To me, it shows an utter laziness about getting facts correct. It also continues to confuse the public about legal issues. I'm a bit of a nitpicker about this, but it drives me crazy. Just this morning, I read an article on CNN
(the most "trusted" name in news) about Christian Slater being arrested for grabbing a woman's ass on a NYC street. The headline says Slater was arrested on "sexual harassment" charges. Except, you know, that "sexual harassment" is not a crime. The article goes on to explain that he was charged with "sexual abuse," which actually is a crime. This is just one example. Back in my days as an antitrust lawyer, I remember reading a headline about the Microsoft case that said, "Microsoft Found Guilty of Being a Monopoly." Not bad, except that it was a civil trial where no one is ever found guilty of anything. Also, it is not against the law to be a monopoly. So, according to the headline, Microsoft was found guilty in a civil trial of something that isn't even a crime. And how many times have you read about someone arrested and charged with a slew of misdemeanor charges arising out of one incident-- say DWI, marijuana, driving with a suspended license, disorderly conduct--where each of the charges has a maximum sentence of six months or a year in jail, and the report says the person could get up to four years in jail? No they couldn't. Not unless they are the worst criminal in the history of the world, get the maximum on each charge, and have the judge order that all sentences run consecutively. They do this especially in federal cases when some white-collar criminal is charged with 30 some counts in a fraud case. They'll report that he's facing 150 years in prison. No, he's not--again with the running the sentences consecutively. If there is a single federal white-collar case in the last 50 years where someone got anywhere close to that amount, I'll eat my hat. I feel like I'm sound like my mom--a nurse--who used to complain about how the coma patients on a soap opera I was watching were on a respirator that hospitals never use anymore, or how some character looked too good for someone who just had open heart surgery. But, we all expect dramatic license to be taken on fictional entertainment programming. It would be nice, though, if the reporters who are supposed to be delivering the facts could manage to get their's straight. Is that so much to ask?