Sat, Oct. 25, 2003

German Perpetuation of Misinformation on American Law

CK - Washington.   Typical mistake in the German press: discusses a spam conviction in California and refers to some statute, as if there were a federal anti-spam statute.

This type of reporting will have much of Germany believe that the U.S. now has a precedent and statute. The press usually perpetuates such confusion by omitting corrections or updates.

For instance, whenever juries deliver astounding verdicts, the German press points to them as examples of American excessiveness, without noting that such verdicts frequently suffer a remittitur. As a result, even 10 years later you hear Germans refer to that verdict as typifying the American legal system, without the benefit of knowing at least foggily what they are talking about and how wrong and embarrassing such statements are.

As to spam on the federal level, Eva Wagner has an analysis of the current legislative developments, and Zeynep Yilmaz recently reported on a Missouri case.

Unfortunately, misinformation on the law is a two way street. In the United States, Germans cringe when they hear the matter of factly stated comment that in Germany and the Continent, an accused would be guilty until proven innocent which is about as wrong as confusing motherhood with apple pie.

A blogged discourse may help on occasion.

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