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Television and radio are vital intelligence sources. Broadcasting has expanded the communication spectrum by encouraging the general public to obtain knowledge that is accurate, truthful, and logical. However, reporting may also include inaccurate or skewed evidence that is biased, particularly when describing historical events that are relevant to contemporary society. In certain cases, audiences or listeners are unable to distinguish between fact and belief as portrayed to them, resulting in the formation of a false historical version of events. The purpose of this research paper is to listen to a broadcast of a historical event to determine what fact is and what are mere opinions or interpretations from the broadcast. The event is in this aspect is Bushel's case and a radio recording of the dramatized version of the case by Columbia Broadcasting Corporation (CBS).
To be able to determine aspects of the dramatization that CBS got right or wrong, research was conducted on the internet and other electronic databases regarding the historical event in question. In searching for the information, the key words used to retrieve data were Bushel's Case or The trial of William Penn. The search engines used were google and yahoo. The electronic database searched was the EBSCOhost and University of Pennsylvania online library. At the online library of the university of Penn., I found information posted by Kara Flynn where biography information of William Penn was available. William Penn was the founder of the Pennsylvania province as land given by King Charles 1 for the debt owed to Penn's father (Flynn 3). At the height of religious suppresses by the Crown, Penn was arrested for preaching dissenting religious views to a gathering in London (Flynn 4). Penn was brought before a jury to face trial and decided to defend himself. During the proceedings, he asked pertinent questions to the jury due to lack of substantive evidence by the Crown in their prosecution (Flynn 5). The judge found him not guilty of chargers leveled against him. Penn was a Quaker who was forbidding preaching views contrary to the Church of England. The Crown could not prove which law they were using as a basis to detain Penn and Mead's insistent on avoiding self-incrimination dealt a blow to the case.
In the EBSCOhost database, an article by Kevin Crosby provided valuable information about the case. The article examines the deliberations of the jury and the impact of their verdict on publicized cases that lack enough evidence to convict the defendants (Crosby 254). During the trial of Penn, the juror's verdict in favor of the defendant contradicted the judge's view, but the judge was forced to uphold the jury's ruling rather than fine them (Crosby 252). The jury led by William Bushel found the arguments by Penn and Mead sufficient enough to warrant a not guilty verdict despite pressures from the Crown and the judge to do otherwise (Crosby 257). The trial of William Penn revolutionized the selection and conduct of the jury, empowering the jurors to give independent verdicts free from fear or favor (Crosby 260). Penn and Mead were not found guilty of unlawful assembly as the crown wanted but rather for only speaking at the Church which was not a crime (Mitchell 31). However, what happened after the verdict led to the trial being famously referred to as the Bushel's case. The juror's verdict was contrary to the expectations of the court recorder and the presiding judge who fined and ordered them to be locked up without meals for days (Mitchell 31). William Bushel petitioned the Court of Common Pleas for alleged mistreatment and fines which judge Vaughan upheld noting that fining and imprisoning jurors was unlawful (Mitchell 31). During the trial, the arguments by Penn poked holes in the prosecution's arguments and the order by the judge to lock him up only made the jury believe his defenses rather than the Crown prosecutor (Phillips & Thompson 190). Bushel's case also pointed to cracks in the Penn trial that the presiding judge and Crown failed to see yet hoped he would be found guilty (Phillips & Thompson 194).
CBS got it right in stating that the trial was taking place at the Old Bailey Courthouse in London and was between the King V. Penn & Mead. It is a fact that Penn & Mead were charged with unlawful assembly for their views at the Grace Church Street in London that violated the King's decree of such dissenting religious views. The recording also made up the notion that Penn was no longer the focus of attention during the trial but the jury. This was not true at all. It is factual that the jury gave the verdict in favor of Penn and Mead twice and was denied by the court as misleading. Penn was 26 when he faced the trial. Penn and Mead were only found guilty of speaking at the church as indicated by CBS. Bushel was fined for contempt of the court and imprisoned for the fourth time for being firm and steadfast in their verdict. However, the views of other jurors and lawyers on the case were made up by CBS and no historical account this exists. Also, the allegations that Penn's hat was removed forcefully and mistreated during the beginning of the trial by him being a Quaker were also made up. Some of the witness's accounts were significantly exaggerated and lacked any benefit in helping the juror reach their verdict.
Majority of the historical accounts by CBS were factual except for a few that were made up to make the dramatization entertaining and exciting. The narration was the excellent and tonal variation of the characters indicated the seriousness of the case.
Columbia Broadcasting Corporation. You are there-“The Trial of William Penn”. MC.975.07.023, Quaker & Special Collections, Haverford College, Haverford, PA. 1950. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImcQJLeI2tQ
Crosby, K. Bushel’s case and the juror’s soul. The Journal of Legal History, Vol. 33, No. 3, December 2012, pp. 251–290. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=3939d811-a30b-40ce-9a2b-3f51a097ccb8%40sessionmgr103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=84054914&db=a9h
Flynn. K. “The Trial of William Penn”. University of Pennsylvania, 2016. Retrieved from http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/pacscl/ead.pdf?id=PACSCL_HAVERFORD_USPHCMC97507023
Mitchell, A. Penn & Mead-Bushel’s case(1670). Retrieved from http://docenti.unimc.it/laura.vagni/teaching/2016/15781/files/bushells-case
Phillips, J.A., & Thompson, T.C. Jurors/judges in later Stuart England: The Penn/Mead Trial and Bushel’s case. Journal of Theory & Practice, Vol.4, Issue 1, 1986, pp.190-223. Retrieved from http://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1325&context=lawineq
Trial of William Penn (1670). Retrieved from https://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/penntrial.htm
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