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Media and the Law: The Case of Miss San Antonio 2011

Eduardo Jiménez Mayo, J.D., Ph.D.

Independent Scholar.

Corresponding Email Address: eduardojimenezmayo@gmail.com; Tel: (210) 316-5534

Received April 27, 2016; Accepted June 27, 2016


This article addresses the problem of what is informally referred to in the law as “trying cases in the media.” It accomplishes this by taking a case study from American civil law and responding to three fundamental and progressively abstract questions: (1) how was the media engaged in this case, (2) how did this case test the limits on trial publicity, and (3) can the media provide a forum in which to enhance the transparency of juridical processes without confusing justice with mere spectacle? The uniqueness of this approach turns in large measure on the special features of the case: one which thrusts gender, race, and political tensions in the American Southwest into plain view. The author argues in the spirit of postmodernity that spectacle cannot be avoided in the pursuit of justice, a sentiment which surfaces most obviously in high profile or controversial cases. Professional codes of conduct may not effectively contain the allure of spectacle. The responsible counselor, paradoxically, may be irresponsible for not taking advantage of an opportunity to engage the media in the generation of the spectacular, particularly when faced with an opponent whose resources outmatch his own or that of his client.


Keywords: Media Law, Legal Ethics, Latinos, Hispanics, Mexican-Americans, Gender and the Law, Society and Spectacle, Postmodernity, Critical Theory, Postcolonial Studies.

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