People v. Maldonado involves a middle-aged Hispanic man who carried an SDP Generation 1 Kriss Vector submachine gun into the Skyview Plaza in a black laptop case. The gun was discharged while Maldonado was still in the lobby. He left the crime scene, stowed his remaining magazines in the engine compartment of his car, then returned only to be arrested. He was charged with violating Penal Codes 246.3-- negligent discharge of a firearm-- and 3231—the control of deadly weapons. He fired the gun on the same day as the San Bernardino shootings.
After attending this trial, many areas of improvement became evident. Public relations is couched in creativity, strategy, persuasion, research and effective implementation. The following tactics could be employed to improve the functionality, efficacy, and reputation of the American court system.
Fact sheets and backgrounders can be given to jury members to provide them with a clear and concise synopsis of the facts of the case, and the proceeding arguments from both the plaintiff and defendant. This will allow them to track the case with more ease and prevent misunderstanding because of the “legalese” language barrier.
Reputation management could also be used to raise approval ratings of the court system altogether. Studies show that average Americans do not believe that the court system actually achieves what it should- justice and fairness. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaigns can be used to reframe and reposition the legal system as an ethically conscious entity. Implementing a holiday canned food drive offering participants ticket and citation fee forgiveness in exchange for canned food will showcase the charitability of the courts. This mutually beneficial program will help cultivate meaningful relationships with the courts’ constituents and main clientele.
Online media kits will also help communicate the valiant work that is accomplished by all judicial employees. Providing detailed case information and visual aids on user-friendly websites will increase online traffic and engagement. It will also encourage laypeople and journalists to give the courts attention because of the ease of access to information, as is the standard for millennials.
Jury selection is a lengthy and arduous process, but I believe that a Tinder-like app could be used to simplify and cut down the time it takes to complete jury selection. After jurors are randomly selected, the can link their Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts to automatically fill-out portions of the in-app profile. They can then proceed to answer the specific questions that lawyers draft to prime them frot heir specific case. Just like tinder, attorneys can swipe left for candidates they do not want, right on those they wish to keep, and up for those that they feel are very likely to be sympathetic to their argument.
Lastly, lawyers can use elements of media training to prepare witnesses and clients to testify on the stand. “Bridging theory” can be used to both address questions asked and tie into key messages the interviewee wants to get across. Rehearsal techniques like reciting scripts with a thumb in the mouth, tongue twisters and breathing exercises all work to combat nervousness. These techniques can be used to prime witnesses to deliver the most compelling, believable, natural and yet targeted testimony possible.
Gabbi Robinson, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response being asked how her major, Public Relations, could improve the trial process.