Courtrooms as TV Entertainment

The Return of Casey Anthony

For the first time since her acquittal in July, Casey Anthony has returned to the public eye in the form of a video diary posted on Facebook and YouTube: Although Casey Anthony mentions neither the trial nor her daughter during the four minute video, her reemergence has rekindled public outrage over the jury verdict.  As Forum Director Thane Rosenbaum wrote last summer on the Huffington Post, the moral indignation arising out of the Casey Anthony trial marks another step in America’s continuing disillusionment with our legal system and its capacity for producing what the public perceives as unjust results.


Casey Anthony vs. Society

By Chloe Sarnoff Homespun homilies such as “whatever comes around goes around,” or “don’t worry, things have a way of working themselves out,” often come across as meaningless or trite. Sometime, however, what sounded like a banality can end up ringing very true. Several weeks ago, Casey Anthony was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.  Most people believed that she was guilty and were surprised by the verdict.  Very likely Ms. Anthony was surprised, too. But to those furious members of the public who watched as a dangerous and negligent mother got away with murder (or at the very least manslaughter), we can all take at least small comfort in saying, “don’t worry, things will work themselves out.” The justice system may have found Casey Anthony not guilty of pre-meditated murder, but Ms. Anthony has yet to receive the full force and effect of society’s verdict.  She is now


Innocent in the Eyes of the Jury

By Erica Zaragoza It is the case that has captivated the hearts of people across the nation – the brutal, senseless murder of 2 year old Caylee Marie Anthony. I first heard about the trial from my best friend who, after one briefing of the evidence and facts, was completely enveloped in the story. There was not a single doubt in her mind that Casey Anthony had premeditated and executed the murder of her own daughter. This sentiment seemed to be the consensus among most people following the case. The evidence: Facebook and Twitter were buzzing with less than friendly remarks about the jurors, and Casey, once the verdict was read. Onlookers called them to the dumbest jury since the OJ Simpson trial. Why did a nobody, like Casey Anthony, cause such controversy in the media and pull the heart strings of America? Was it the crime itself? Casey’s personality


Why We Watched

By Ben Falk There are a few cases, that didn’t star a celebrity, which managed to catch our collective attention quite like Casey Anthony’s. Mary-Kay Letourneau’s trial is an example, but its weirdness (and its oddly happy ending) is probably the reason why we watched. The Oklahoma City Bombers’ trial is another, but the tragedy and magnitude of their crimes place it in a different category all together. Outside of those two, I just don’t know of another case that touched a nerve in quite the same way. So the question remains: why? I imagine the pundits are correct, we watched because she was relatable, she seemed like one of us, and she led (so we thought) a fairly normal life. Perhaps, shockingly and horrifyingly, we saw some of ourselves in her. Unfortunately however, when we watched Casey Anthony’s case as closely as we did we ended up not liking


Suits: What Does It Mean to Be A Great Lawyer?

By Ben Falk That’s the question “Suits,” at its core, seems to be asking. Does being a great lawyer mean being a fantastic researcher? Is it the ability to intimidate an adversary in negotiations? Mastery of black-letter law? Is it empathizing with clients? Is it performance in a courtroom? Is it all of the above? “Suits,” on the USA Network, stars Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter, the Harvard (they don’t miss a chance to point that out) educated lawyer who is the firm’s “best closer.” Specter hires Mike Ross (Patrick Adams), a legal-savant who happens to be running away from a drug-deal gone bad when he coincidentally ends up crashing an interview Harvey is conducting for his high-powered, white shoe firm. Mike Ross, who has never graduated college or law school, still manages to pass the bar. Rounding out the core group is Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle), a paralegal who, it


Was the Moral Lawyer Hiding in LA?

For the tried and true New York native fan of Law & Order, there seemed little to look forward to with Law & Order: LA. Regardless of whether the structure would be the same, the idea of Los Angeles as a character in the show (the way New York very much was) left a good deal to be desired. Considering the national perception of the area, it seemed as though it would be difficult not to focus on movie stars and the wealthy in order for people to “buy” the “LA-ness” of the new series. “Ripped from US Weekly” or some other tabloid simply seemed silly when compared with storylines ripped from the New York Times. And yet, Law & Order: LA had a different trick up its sleeve. Granted, it was after a hiatus for a revamping, but the show returned with a new attitude. More specifically, Deputy District


The Concept of Relevancy from a Moral Justice Perspective

There is a Law & Order episode in which a defendant is on trial for murdering his business partner, with whom he ran an illegal gambling operation.  During the proceedings, the defendant admits to stealing money from the illicit venture, and further acknowledges that his partner; the “muscle” of the operation, found out about his theft. This evidence is admitted under the pretense that it is relevant; it goes to demonstrating the defendant’s motive for the murder. The more interesting exchange occurs when the defendant is asked what he did with the money.  As it happens, the defendant was sending the money to Israel to buy medical supplies in order to assist citizens harmed by anti-Semitism.  The now deceased partner was portrayed as some brute standing in the way of this noble pursuit. As one with a legal predisposition would imagine, this testimony was objected to by District Attorney Jack


"The Practice", reality or far away from the true…

Bobby Donnell (played by Dylan McDermott) and his team of lawyers representing an unusual defense lawyers which constantly straggle with ethical and moral themes while defending murderers, rapists etc. The twist is that they almost always win the cases and this is a surrealistic representation of reality. The author of the TV series is well aware of this conflict, giving his characters to face the cold, cynical emotionless court room as it is in reality. While Bobby Donnell and his team try to bring into court moral arguments and emotional point of view, against them standing Helen from the D.A.’s office; cold, strong woman who is emotionally detached from the defendant side of the story. What makes the series interesting is that the viewers fall in the charm of the defense almost forgetting that they actually represent the “Bad guy” in the story. Humans apparently are moral and ethical creatures. But


The Legal System Through the Eyes of Hollywood: Good or Bad?

Author: Dale Cohen Open Scene:  An old, hot shot attorney in an expensive suit who has been retained by a billionaire is negotiating with a young, idealistic attorney representing a poor shop owner. The old attorney grimly explains that his client has the money to drag out the trial for years and the shop owner’s only chance for coming out of the situation with anything to show for it is to accept a pathetically small settlement offer. Whether it’s a civil trial or a criminal proceeding, Hollywood is riddled with tales of the trials (pun intended) and tribulations of individuals caught in legal system.  Most stories involve soulless lawyers attempting to manipulate the technicalities of the legal system in order reach some sort of legal result which totally circumvents any commonplace understanding of how individuals understand the concept of moral justice.  Of course no story would be complete without the protagonist,