When former Indianapolis defense attorney Mark Shaw became chairman of the media committee for the Mike Tyson trial, he gained a front-row seat for the hottest legal battle of 1992. Positioned just left of the judge, not 4 feet from Tyson himself, he observed firsthand the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, the reactions of jurors, and the strategies and performances of the defense and the prosecution. He also commented on the trial for CNN, ESPN, and USA Today.
After the trial, he was ready to draw some conclusions. Shaw, an entertainment and sports attorney and writer/journalist, offered the following excerpt from his book Down For The Count, documenting what he and co-author Charley Steiner, an ESPN SportsCenter anchor, consider the key courtroom errors that helped land Tyson in prison. They asserted that his case was mishandled, citing a jury-selection process that allowed a conservative ex-Marine to become foreman, a defense “strategy” of making Tyson look as bad as possible, and a disastrous decision to allow the defendant to testify at the grand jury hearing, the trial, and his sentencing. On the one-year anniversary of the boxer’s fateful night at the Canterbury Hotel, Indianapolis Monthly’s July 1992 issue presented their opinion of what went wrong, and why the ex-champ couldn’t beat the rap.