The cameras were turned off yesterday in the Orange County Courthouse. America’s favorite reality TV show ran out of air time when Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony.
It was a sad moment for America. Tragic that justice has not been served for little Caylee: her killer is still at large, whether it is her mother or otherwise. Sick that the American legal system allowed the public and media to turn the trial into ‘the ultimate reality show’.
For many years, advocates of having television cameras in American courtrooms have argued that they provide greater transparency in courtroom proceedings. What did this revered transparency teach us about the legal system during one of the most televised trials in history?
We learned that the public still loves a good old-fashioned witch hunt. Nothing gets the public voyeuristic juices flowing more than a pretty woman accused of murder. Why is there not constant web streaming of the current trial of US teen Brandon McInerny accused of a homophobic killing?
We learned that the reality TV-addicted public could no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction. One ‘fan’ queuing up outside the courtroom desperate to get a front row seat was reported as saying, “I can’t wait to see it. This is the ultimate reality show.” As Robin Simon, a professor of sociology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina says, “She didn’t even perceive this as a real case with real people. It was sick.”
We also learned that lawyers are still smug and patronizing. After letting his wife fix his hair for his big television moment, trial lawyer Cheney Mason stood before the very cameras he has enjoyed throughout the trial and told the media, “Now you have learned your lesson.” It was like the ringmaster of the circus chastising his audience for buying tickets to watch the performance.
Finally, we learned the harsh truth: that the legal system is a big, fat failure. As I watched the dozen or so defense lawyers line up behind microphones yesterday it struck me how many professional adults had actively worked on this case, and yet they still could not bring justice for this tiny child, who lies cold and still.
Think of the adults within her circle of family and friends who must hold the key to the truth. Think of all the police officers; forensic scientists; social workers; prosecution lawyers; defense lawyers; the judge and the jury. It makes me so sad.
Can someone, anyone, please stand up and turn courtroom televisions off for good so that we can finally find justice for victims like Caylee Marie Anthony?