Today, the actor Wesley Snipes will begin his prison sentence for tax evasion. His case brings up some interesting issues regarding justice and the media.
Snipes was tried in a court in Florida for several charges of tax evasion. He was accused of failing to report millions of dollars in earnings to the IRS over several years. The jury found him guilty of some of the charges, but not the more serious felony charges. He was sentenced to serve three years in prison. Snipes has been appealing this decision, and plans on bringing additional appeals.
Snipes has made several comments to the media about the fairness of his trial. He claimed there were a couple factors which worked against him and led to the current conviction and sentence. First, Snipes has made claims that some of the jurors in the case had decided that he was guilty before the trial even started.
Also, he has argued that the prosecutors may have pursued harsher sentencing for him for the wrong reasons. He claimed that the prosecutors didn't base their sentencing arguments solely on the severity of his crimes, but also on the amount of media attention the case was getting. He argued that prosecutors sought to make an example of him because of the high profile nature of his case.
This tax fraud case and Snipes' statements do bring up some interesting issues. Particularly the statements about why prosecutors argued that Snipes should receive harsh sentencing for his crimes. This brings up issues of whether Snipes was punished solely for his crimes, or whether his fame also played a role. Would the result of this case have been different if Snipes wasn't famous? How much did the media affect the ultimate result of this case?
These are important questions to consider in any high profile case. We need to be aware of how the media affects the way all parties involved view these cases. That way, efforts can be made to make sure that it is justice, not publicity, which controls the results of these cases.
Source: CNN, "Wesley Snipes heads to prison on tax conviction," Michael Martinez, 9 Dec 2010