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Some Reasonable Doubts about Corasanti Coverage

 

I have reasonable doubt that Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin or whoever writes his copy fully understands what part of the manslaughter case against Dr. James Corasanti is about reasonable doubt or what the legal term even means.

Near the beginning of Monday’s 11 p.m. newscast, Levin said Monday’s trial testimony involved key elements near the scene “where the doctor is accused of hitting and killing 18 year-old Alexandria Rice last year.”

Ch.2's Scott Levin

Technically, that wording may be correct. But Dr. Corasanti is more than “accused” of hitting and killing the teenage skateboarder while driving his car at this point.

All doubt about that was eliminated when his defense attorney, Joel L. Daniels, admitted in his opening statement that his client hit her with his car but he added it was an “accident.” As far as I can tell, the reasonable doubt that Daniels is trying to convince jurors of concerns whether Dr. Corasanti realized he hit a human being before he left the scene of what his defense team claims was an accident and not a crime. According to the Buffalo News, Corasanti is on trial for manslaughter, leaving the scene and evidence-tampering.

As the moderator of the 11 p.m. debate Monday between Channel 2’s legal analysts, Thomas Eoannou and Dennis Vacco, Levin mentioned that the defense has already said it was an accident. But I doubt that he guided the two lawyers well enough during that newscast so they could help viewers fully understand the “reasonable doubt” issues that Daniels is trying to establish. In an earlier newscast that I watched on Channel 2′s website, Levin and Eoannou did a much better job. But even then, Levin foolishly said “there is always reasonable doubt,” thereby illustrating a complete lack of understanding of the legal term. The prosecution should be happy Levin isn’t on this jury or any jury. Vacco quickly called Levin on that remark.

Channel 2’s intro to the 11 p.m. news also implied that Daniels and the defense team possibly could have made some progress in establishing reasonable doubt, which is a shaky premise because you don’t want to predict such things. Decades ago, I covered the criminal courts. That’s when I first realized what a fabulous attorney Daniels is. I used to kid my friends that I ever got into serious trouble, he would be my first call. I learned back then covering courts that you can never predict what a jury is going to do or if it is going to find reasonable doubt even in what appears to be an open-and-shut case.

One of my most memorable cases involved a former policeman whose attorney pleaded with a jury to convict him on a lesser charge. The jury came back and incredibly acquitted the defendant on all counts and then got a judicial scolding for letting a man go free when his own attorney said he was guilty of something.

I had some reasonable doubt last Friday when I read a Buffalo News column criticizing Channel 4 for failing to pick up the second half hour of the CBS Sunday morning program “Face the Nation” that the writer fully understood the issue.

I shook my head a little at the column, which noted that Channel 4 is running paid program in place of the second half of “Face.” I wasn’t shaking my head because of what appeared to be justifiable criticism. I shook my head because I hadn’t realized “Face” had been expanded to an hour on April 1 and that CBS had given its affiliates an option to carry the second 30 minutes.

If you’ve read this blog for any time, you know I’m not a defender of Channel 4. I’m probably one of its harshest critics. But I try to be fair. CBS apparently didn’t give its affiliates a lot of time to adjust their schedules. I do know it can be difficult for stations to immediately drop paid programming contracts when their networks change schedules.

So I emailed Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial and asked for an explanation. “We did not pick-up the option April 1 because of the programming commitments already in place,” wrote back Musial. “We will review our options later this year.” When asked when the paid programming commitments end, Musial said he couldn’t say because of “competitive reasons.” Truth be told, I don’t really think Channel 2 or any other local channel cares so much about Channel 4’s Sunday morning plans.  

If the paid programming contract is the holdup, let’s hope that Channel 4 begins carrying the second half-hour of “Face” as soon as it can during this presidential year. Reportedly, CBS only plans to carry the hour-long “Face” until the election is over, though that plan can change if ratings improve.

Even if Channel 4 ever carries the second half of “Face” at 11 a.m., I probably wouldn’t watch it anyway. That’s when my favorite media analyst, Howard Kurtz, hosts CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

I had no doubt that HBO was going to renew its new Sunday night comedies “Girls” and “Veep,” for another season after the first three episodes aired because its renewals aren’t based as much on ratings as they are on how much they’ve become part of the conversation on social networks and how well they are received critically. Both were renewed Monday. “Girls” has sparked plenty of controversy and both shows have received reviews much more favorable that mine. I may have been premature in my criticism of “Veep,” which has the same comedic vibe as “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”  

pergament@msn.com

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