Under the Hat:We've Heard it Before - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat:We've Heard it Before

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The murder trial of a man accused of shooting a Chautauqua County school superintendent to death is giving us a pretty clear picture of the difficulties of dispensing justice in 2013.

In this case the problem has been pre-trial publicity; you can hardly blame folks, especially in a small town, for hanging on every detail of the story of a man who allegedly drove up from Virginia to shoot a superintendent believing that he had had an affair with the man's wife.

The judge in the case seems to want to err on the side of caution and often potential jurors were excused because they had already heard about the case.

That led to a jury selection process that went on for weeks and later a request from the defense to either move the trial out of town or bring in an outside jury.

Eventually enough jurors were scraped together in Chautauqua County to allow the trial to move forward.

The easy answer is to blame the big bad TV cameras and indeed we deserve some of that because both the Erie and Buffalo markets covered the western New York case extensively.

But this is an information age like no other and while traditional news operations do their damage so do Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and text alerts.

If it's a big enough situation, you can bet that one way or another, we've heard it before.

Judges of the future must find a way to balance the need to present facts in a pristine environment against the flood of information sweeping in us each and every day.

In a perfect world you could find 12 people who have never seen the news, or a smart phone or a computer.

We may live in an interesting world but it's certainly not a perfect one.

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