Monday, May 23, 2011

What Happens When Government Uses Bloggers As Their Mouthpieces & Vehicles For Their High Profile Celebrity Sport Trials

Full Court Coverage

What happens when defense counsel and ordinary citizens blog about high-profile trials?

Posted Jan 1, 2008 3:04 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

Some say Los Angeles prosecutor Alan Jackson has movie-star looks. Others compare him to a game-show host. But the most unusual characterization of the man who prosecuted music producer Phil Spector on murder charges likened him to a bulldog named Chance in the 1993 Disney movie Homeward Bound. “Of course, AJ is much smarter and more cautious than Chance, but overall personalities seem to fit,” wrote Betsy Ross in Trials & Tribulations, her blog that focused on the Spector prosecution.

A semiretired massage therapist who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks, Betsy Ross (yes, that’s her real name) regularly at­tended Spector’s trial in the 2003 killing of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson. She was one of at least three nonjournalists who blogged about the trial regularly, but the only one to merit a mention in Dominick Dunne’s column in Vanity Fair.

“I was trying to bring my readers into the courtroom with me,” says Ross, who blogs under the handle “Sprocket.” Her observations took a decidedly pro-prosecution lean. And Ross’ writing style often includes details and descriptions that would probably not be included in mainstream press coverage.

The case ended in a mistrial on Sept. 26, but Ross continues to write about Spector on her blog, and she plans to cover his retrial.

The Spector trial—which ended in a hung jury—is Ross’ second. Her first was the murder trial of actor Robert Blake, who in 2005 was acquitted of murdering his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley. Also a fan of true crime message boards, Ross posted her observations about Blake’s trial on the boards. Later, after copying and pasting significant blocks of text, she started Trials & Tribulations; she now posts links to her blog on various message boards.

(Los Angeles district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office would not comment on Trials & Tribulations because of the pending retrial.)


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