The North Texas Daily (Denton, Tex.), Vol. 68, No. 63, Ed. 1 Tuesday, January 29, 1985 Page: 2 of 8
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Sharon-Time libel suit
Former Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon’s libel
case against Time magazine ended Thursday when a jury
ruled that Sharon failed to show that Time acted with
malice in publishing an inaccurate story about Sharon’s
role in the massacre of Palestinians in West Beirut.
Usually, when a trial ends, people talk of winners and
losers. But there were no winners in this case.
Sharon won what he called a '‘moral victory” because
he proved that the story was false and that he had been
defamed by it. He failed to show that Time knew it was
false so he cannot collect the S50 million he was suing
Time didn't have to pay the S50 million, but Sharon's
"moral victory” will probably hurt Time's credibility.
The media certainly did not win because Sharon’s "moral
victory" almost certainly will encourage libel suits.
But the big loser in this case is the American public.
The encouragement of libel suits wiil place grave restric-
tions on the freedom of the press. Few newspapers, maga-
zines and broadcasters could afford to lose a $50 million
libel suit, and even the cost of winning could severely
cripple a paper.
If a paper has to worry about libel every time it prints
a controversial news story, its freedom is severely limited.
That is not, of course, to say that there should be no
libel cases. Private individuals should be allowed to sue
for libel. Public officials, however, should not.
Public officials choose to be media figures. They thrust
themselves into the public arena. No one forces a politi-
cian to run for office; he chooses to. And by choosing to
seek a public office or by choosing to become a media
figure, public officials open themselves up to the risk of
Our Constitution is very clear on the issue of a free
press. It does not protect a free, responsible press or even
a free, accurate press, but a free press. Period.
Our Founding Fathers were very much aware of what
they were doing when they established a free press. The
press they sought to protect was neither fair nor accurate.
In those days, newspapers often were owned by political
parties and based their news stories on rumor. Nevertheless,
the writers of the Constitution sought to protect newspa-
pers because they were familiar with a despotic govern-
ment that tried to suppress them.
They wanted to protect that press because they knew
that freedom could only exist where there was a free press
to protect individual liberties.
Free to advertise
In another case dealing with government officials ignor-
ing the First Amendment, the advisory council to the
government's National Institute on Drug Abuse has rec-
ommended that the Department of Health and Human Ser-
vices ban all cigarette advertising and promotion.
The advisory council voted for the recommendation 9-1.
with one abstention. If one chooses to take a charitable
view of the proceeding, one would assume that the nine
members who voted for the measure did not know w hat
they were doing. If the government banned all cigarette
advertising and promotion, such an action plainly would
In a similar case, a group called Project SMART: Stop
Marketing Alcohol on Radio and Television, is petition-
ing Congress to either ban wine and beer commercials
from television and radio or for equal time for commer-
cials about the health and safety risks of drinking. Project
SMART acts as if wine and beer ads were political
editorials. Project SMART'S aims, if carried out. would
Both groups have fallen victim to some common mis-
conceptions: that advertisements and promotions for ciga-
rettes cause cancer, and that ads for beer and w ine cause
traffic accidents and alcoholism.
Neither group displays much faith in the intelligence of
the American people. Almost anyone who reads a news-
paper or a magazine, or who drives past billboards, sees
cigarette and alcohol advertisements every day Yet many
of these people are teetotalers or nonsmokers or both.
If someone dies of lung cancer caused by cigarette
smoking, it is because he chose to smoke that first cigarette.
If someone becomes an alcoholic w ith a long list of driv-
ing violations, it is because he chose to sip that first drink.
Advertisements do not force people to smoke and drink:
they help smokers and drinkers decide which brands to
In the 1968 case, New York Times vs. Sullivan, the
Supreme Court ruled that advertisements are free speech
protected by the First Amendment. The government can-
not ban free speech unless there is a clear, present danger
that the exercise of free speech would cause direct, irrepara-
ble harm to the nation. Cigarette and alcohol advertise-
ments clearly do not pose a clear and present danger to
the safety of the country . Thus, bans on advertising and
promotion of such ads would be unconstitutional.
Neither group seems to have considered the economic
and social consequences of such bans. People would con-
tinue to smoke and drink, bringing business to insurance,
cigarette and alcohol companies, as well as to hospitals.
But broadcasters and publishers would suffer greatly. Some
magazines that rely heavily on cigarette and alcohol ads,
such as Newsweek. Esquire. Playboy and National Lam-
poon. could go out of business.
Project SMART’S request for equal time to air messag-
es about the dangers of drinking is silly. If Project SMART
wants to air such messages now. it can do so. as long as
it pays the going rate. Broadcasting companies are pri-
vately owned. The government should not be allowed to
tell broadcasters what to do with their private property.
What's the point, baby?
What is the point? You wrote four para-
graphs on the subject of "Asexual women."
(Jan. 16 NT Daily) and then 14 paragraphs
expressing your opinion that women don't
need men. and finally one more paragraph
contradicting the last 14. If you want to
make a point. Amber, why don't you just
come out and say it?
Why all the implications. Amber? Like
your statement, "you (men) can be replaced
if you screw up just once more. " Doesn't
everybody make mistakes? And wasn't Eve
the one who got us kicked out of the Gar-
den of Eden?
Here's another one: "we (women) won't
waste so much time waiting for our dates
to show up 30 minutes late." Isn't it the
woman who occasionally isn't quite ready
Let's be realistic. Amber has dirty socks,
too. And both men and women have ga-
rages. Without the fishing poles and old
Playboys, what will be in your garage.
Amber, honey, you should buy clothes
and makeup to impress yourself. Build vour
self-image, baby. Don't worry about what
other people think.
Just for the record. Amber, people sleep
about one-third of their lives, not 20 percent.
And there is nothing wrong w ith hard work
Maybe you should spend 80 percent of your
time at the office and put a little more work
into your columns.
In conclusion, Amber Smith, about your
article, your implications lack validity and
your point of view is vague. But the con-
tradiction in your column is unmistakable:
14 paragraphs against men, one paragraph
in favor of men. It looks like the men lose
and you win. Amber—no men for you.
Robert Alan Jannasch
Get it straight next time
In order to eliminate misunderstandings
generated by an article written by Amber
Smith and published on the front page of
the Jan. 16 NT Daily ("Officials to dis-
cuss parking proposals”), we submit the
• Contrary to beliefs by some readers
raised by the article in The Daily. Rogers
Bicycle Shop is not moving: nor are we
going out of business:
• NT does not own the property at 1514
Eagle Dr., the home of Rogers Bicycle Shop
• The expansion of the number of park
ing spaces at the corner of Avenue B and
Eagle, adjacent to Rogers Bicycle, is in
the planning stage. This is for a future date
These additional spaces are not to be added
at this time;
• The lot adjacent to Rogers Bicycle Shop,
which is leased from NT. is used primari-
ly for our own personal vehicles during busi
ness hours and as additional spaces for our
• NT has not indicated any interest in
buying the property at 1514 Eagle Dr.;
• In a telephone conversation with (NI
police) Chief Martin Jan. 17. he agrees with
all the facts above and encouraged me to
set the record straight. We felt this could
best be done by a letter to the editor.
Rogers Bicycle Shop
Everybody is a critic
While Joey Richards' Jan. 23 column.
"Hyperbole, lousy reporting ruin profes
sional football," is amusing and well-
written. I believe that one thing worse than
too many reporters is reporters writing about
Joseph A. Eggers
NT Box 5821
Jury system's flaws result in innocent man's conviction
A few days ago the Dallas Times Her-
ald reported that juries are more likely to
convict felony defendants than judges are.
Specifically , the article said 95 percent of
jury trials end in guilty verdicts, whereas
55 percent of the cases decided by a judge
end in conviction.
These may sound like promising statis-
tics to criminal defendants, but the catch
is that a defendant cannot waive a jury trial
without the permission of prosecutors.
IN THE ACCOUNT I read, prosecu-
tors said the reason for the difference in
conviction rates was that they try their
stronger cases before juries and save the
weaker cases forjudges. But I don't think
that's true I think that prosecutors, hun-
gry for convictions, know that jury mem-
bers are ignorant about the law and are likely
to think a suspect is guilty just because he
is on trial.
I say this because 1 have seen a few trials,
and some of the verdicts 1 heard sounded
awfully strange And this past summer. I
saw the conviction of a man. who. in my
opinion, was innocent
It was in Lubbock I was working an
internship for the Lubbock Avalanche-
Journal My third week there. I covered a
couple of criminal trials.
One case dealt w ith a 22-year-old man
named Elroy Joe Toler who was accused
of forcing his way into the house of an
85-year-old woman, breaking her arm and
stealing some jewelry and SIO from her
purse This crime happened March 5.
An anonymous caller supposedly gave
police Toler's name The victim. Ema Joda
Luwellyn. picked Toler out of a six-man
photo lineup. Toler was arrested March 13.
eight days after the burglary. He had a full
beard, more than eight days old.
At the trial. Luwellyn. a short woman,
testified that her assailant was taller than
her. Toler was shorter than Luwellyn She
said she could tell that her assailant was
thin, though he wore a heavy coat. Toler
was stocky .
LUWELLYN SAID she was not sure if
her assailant had a beard because his col-
lar was turned up and she saw his face only
"a couple of seconds.” Toler had a beard
the night of the burglary. It would seem
that, if Luwellyn had seen her assailant's
face, she would be able to discern and
remember if he had a beard.
Several times. Luwellyn got confused by
the questioning. She did not react to the
stress of the courtroom well. When the
prosecuting attorney. Gene Walters, point-
ed at Toler and asked Luwellyn if the man
he was pointing to was the man who bur-
glarized her house that night, she hesitated,
then said. "I don't know . . . ." Walters
looked at her sharply . After a long pause,
she said that. yes. Toler was the man.
Toler's fingerprints were not found in
the house None of the stolen jewelry was
recovered Toler's girlfriend and sister both
said he was with them the night of the
burglar. They said he could not have been
gone long enough to commit the crime
After hearing the above facts, I conclud-
ed that the jury would be out for a short
time, then return with an acquital.
After three hours of deliberation, they
came out with a conviction.
They sentenced Toler to 17 years.
I WAS NAIVE then. I had been told
all this theory about how the jury system
protects our rights and all that, but I don't
believe that any more. Many juries do not
take their grave responsibilities seriously.
and this one was no exception. 1 believe
tha^the all-white jury convicted Elroy Joe
Toler partly because he is black.
Like I said. I was naive then. I come
from Fort Worth, where racism is wide-
spread. but not nearly as w idespread as it
is in Lubbock I was shocked by the racist
terms I heard from politicians, police and
coworkers. People In Lubbock seem to feel
proud of being racist Most people I know
from the Dallas-Fort Worth area think rac-
ism is something to be ashamed of.
I am not saying that everyone on that
jury was a Ku Klux Klan member. Maybe
they were even the kind of people who do
not laugh at racist jokes. But you cannot
grow up in Lubbock and be around those
racists without picking up some of their
I THINK almost all white people who
grow up in the South have at least some
subtle prejudices against blacks and
Hispanics. I know I do. But I try to treat
my prejudices like weeds: I hunt for them,
and when 1 find them. 1 pull them out before
they can take root firmly in my young mmd
If I were serving on a jury . I would try
with all my might to make sure my preju-
dices did not influence my verdict A jury
has a holy, unsigned contract with its gov-
ernment that it will be impartial and con-
sider only the evidence and the law.
I think the jurors in the Toler case, like
the jurors in the Lenell Geter case, took
this contract lightly I think they had sever-
al prejudices. First, they assumed that,
because a defendant is accused of a crime,
he is guilty. Second, at least in Toler's case,
they assumed that a defendant who refuses
to take the stand does so because he is
guilty. Third, they were prejudiced against
the defendants because they were black.
One of my journalism teachers once told
my class that journalists always should treat
defendants as if they were innocent, even
though "you know he's guilty." I think it
is sad that a faculty member at a universi-
ty would tell a class that. It is even sadder
that many jury members would agree with
JURORS OFTEN ignore the law. For
example, when it comes to sentencing, judg-
es tell jurors to assess the sentence without
discussing the possibility of early parole
But one of my friends served on a jury
where one member broached this subject
in deliberations. She told him he was vio-
lating the judge's orders and the subject
was dropped, but she did not tell the judge
Another example of jurors ignoring the
law comes from the Jerry Falwell vs. Lar
ry Flynt libel trial The jury ruled that Flynt
did not libel Falwell. but they ordered Flynt
to pay damages anyway This was a fla
grant flouting of libel law. You can t pun
ish someone for something he did not do.
Now the case will be appealed, partly at
the taxpayers' expense, just because the
jurors refused to follow the law .
What can we do about juries that ignore
the law? We could give judges more pow
er to send jurors back to the jury room if
they return with nonsensical verdicts like
the one above. Bailiffs could be allowed
to sit in the jury room to make sure no one
talks about something he is forbidden to
But we cannot tamper w ith the jury sys-
tem very much or we will destroy it. In
theory , there are better ways to try and sen-
tence people than the jury system, just as
there are better ways to govern people than
by democracy. But in practice, the |ury
system, like democracy, is the best, most
THE JURY SYSTEM and democracy
arc intertwined. Neither can thrive if the
other does not. To thrive, the jury system
and democracy need an educated populace
Hence, the best way to maintain both is to
educate people and make them understand
the consequences of their decisions.
Where does this leave Elroy Toler? He
awaits appeal in Lubbock County Jail
Toler's attorney. Frank Lay. said he proba-
bly will lose the appeal. If Toler loses, his
17-year sentence will be stacked on top of
a 10-year, probated sentence he was serv
mg at the time ot the burglary So the sen-
tence is really 27 years.
Toler's trial was Lay's first trial Lay
had represented other clients before, but
they all plea-bargained Seven months later.
Lay has represented many criminal suspects,
hut Toler s case is still the only one that
went to trial
"I haven't seen anybody who's that ada
mam about his innocence." Lay said
"There are a few things that he has told
me. which I can t tell you because of
attorney-client priv ilege, that makes me
know lie didn't do it "
The North Texas Dailv
68th Year North Texas State University Denton. Texas
Printed by the North Texas State University Printing Office
Southwestern Journalism Congress Member
rt%vr k nareo
PACEMAKER 6 TIMES
ALL-AMERICAN 77 TIMES
CAROLE JANSEN, editor
EDDIE RODRIGUEZ, advertising manager
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The North Texas Daily (Denton, Tex.), Vol. 68, No. 63, Ed. 1 Tuesday, January 29, 1985, newspaper, January 29, 1985; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth722810/m1/2/: accessed November 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.