Fiction versus Reality: To Kill a Mockingbird
University of Phoenix Axia
Introduction to Criminal Court Systems
Heidi Scott, MS
December 31, 2009
Fiction versus Reality: To Kill A Mockingbird
For many Americans, television, and film are a glance into the world. Television can influence a persons’ imagery of daily events, and has become a main source of media information. Films are frequently, intentionally, pretending to depict a fact that is stranger than fiction to draw in a viewer’s attention. Recognizing the popularity of television, and the powerful affect television has to define the viewing audience perceptions of reality, the influence film has on perceptions of reality should not be dismissed (Solnick, 2009). The question had been often asked whether the educational purpose of reality court dramas’ is overshadowed by what some critics consider a flagrant misrepresentation of the American judicial system. Do these courtroom dramas imitate reality, or generate a false perception so dominant that it exceeds normal public perceptions on the subject of the American court system? Take for instance, the riveting trail scene from To Kill a Mockingbird. This movie portrays the relationship of justice and prejudice. The crucial point of this film is the trial of the defendant, Tom Robinson, who is an impoverished African American, accused of sexually assaulting a Caucasian woman. Tom Robinson is an example of injustice, which occurred to an African American man in the South in the 1930s. In today’s society, many citizens believe that racial prejudice and injustice do not exist within the American judicial system. Certainly, many obstacles have been eliminated; however obstacles for minorities still exist. Racial minorities are over-represented in the corrections system. These statistics reflect institutional biases indicative of unequal justice (Bauer, 2006). Unfortunately, based on statistics, racial, ethnic, and social biases appear to be existent in the American court systems and are a challenge for a portion of society. Part of a criminal court proceeding is the preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence for the defendant to stand trial (Myers and Grant 2002). When making this decision, the judge weighs the probable cause, and if the government has evidence to convince a jury that the defendant committed a crime (Pfeifer, 2008). In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom stood trial based on the eyewitness statements of the victim and her father. No physical evidence was produced although physical evidence did exist. The entire case was based on eyewitness statements. Eyewitness testimony is considered one of the weakest forms of evidence and is often challenged in criminal trials. Whether fictional or not the responsibilities of trial judges within the judicial system remain the same. The judge in criminal proceedings ensures that the constitutional rights of the defendant are protected. However, the most common responsibility that most of society associates with judges are that of presiding over trials, and listening to attorneys argue their case. Judge Taylor presided over the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird. Judge Taylor was knowledgeable with the township, and wanted Tom to receive the best defense available and selected Atticus, as the public defender. Judge Taylor listening closely thorough the presiding and never interrupted. The judge was an informal man, and conducted proceeding in the court with strictness, but the judge was viewed as running an unjust system of law because some critics believed that the judge knew Tom could never receive a fair trial in his court. The purpose of a trial is to discover the truth. One path to the discovery of truth is to question witness through direct and cross examinations. The cross-examination of the states witness can be a crucial...