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Law as Entertainment

I’m spending 4th of July week with my family in the land of Mickey Mouse – Orlando, Florida. This isn’t our first trip to Disney World, by far. However, this time this ”magical place” has been dominated by the local trial of Casey Marie Anthony. As I turned on the television at our resort I found that two local network channels were dedicating live coverage to the trial.  Closing arguments and even jury instructions were covered live.  At the moment the judge left the courtroom to instruct the alternate jurors the timer for “verdict watch” began on the screen.

The coverage didn’t end there. Instead, reporting akin to Super Bowl pre-game began with commentators replaying video footage from the trial and armchair speculation about the thoughts of the jury and potential outcome filled hours of television time.

Is this good for our justice system? People were definitely getting access to the courts. Countless folks were engaged in the criminal justice system as local residents were encouraged to “live chat” on local websites with postings running across the bottom of the screen like school closings.

Trial alert service made it possible for viewers to be back at their televisions for the latest on the trial. When the verdict was announced social media sites lit up with commentary, and the coverage continued.

Does this help?  Does this hurt?  I don’t know.  It certainly gave local Orlando television stations true reality programming for hours on end.

      —Julie Armstrong, IndyBar Executive Director

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