When Legal Cases Become Social Causes
An astute and incisive chronicle of some of the most polarizing cases of the 1980s and 1990s, High-Profile Crimes shows that their landmark status results from the overlapping interaction of diverse participants. The merging of legal cases and social causes, Chancer argues, has wrought ambivalent effects on both social movements and the law. On the one hand, high-profile crimes offer important opportunities for emotional expression and raise awareness of social issues. But on the other hand, social problems cannot be resolved through the either/or determinations that are the goals of the legal system, creating frustration for those who look to the outcome of these cases for social progress. Guilt or innocence through the lens of the media leads to either defeat or victory for a social cause-a confounding situation that made the O. J. Simpson case, for example, unable to resolve the issues of domestic violence and police racism that it had come to symbolize.
Based on nearly two hundred interviews, Chancer's discussions of the infamous Central Park jogger and Bensonhurst cases-as well as the rape trials of William Kennedy Smith and Mike Tyson, the assault cases of Rodney King and Reginald Denny, and, finally, the O. J. Simpson murder trial-provide a convincing, multidimensional and innovative analysis of the most charged public dramas of the last two decades.
Part 1 - Presenting Provoking Assaults: From New York to Los Angeles
1. When Cases Become Causes
Part 2 - Exemplifying a Genre: A Tale of Two Crimes
2. The Rape of the Central Park Jogger
3. The Murder of Yusef Hawkins
Part 3 - From Differing Vantage Points: "Smith," "Tyson," "King," "Denny," and "Simpson"
4. In re the Legal System
5. More on the Press: Journalistic Divides
6. Taking Sides: Diverse Public Reactions
Part 4 - Stepping Back
7. High-Profile Crimes and American Culture
Appendix A: Dates and Descriptions of Provoking Assaults
Appendix B: Identifying the Top Twenty High-Profile Crimes, 1985-1996
Appendix C: Acknowledging Intellectual Debts and Distinctions