Sadly, I didn't make up the title to today's post. It's actually lifted from a high-profile murder trial going on here in Syracuse, generally referred to as "The Anti-Freeze Murder Case." No, Auntie Freeze has not been murdered, she's probably at the bingo hall. The defendant is actually a woman named Stacey Castor, but c'mon, it's much more fun for the local media to tag cases like this with a sensational name, maybe throw in some theme music, and add in dramatic standups outside the courthouse and a few somber updates at the newsdesk throughout the day.
What makes this one a little more interesting is the outrageous performance of our District Attorney, William Fitzpatrick, someone I think has got more than a bit of a superiority complex, is pretty overbearing and thinks he can mete out justice as he sees fit. There's a long history of his pronouncements about who gets tried and 'who's suffered enough already' and doesn't have to face charges.
As MSB and I were heading to the car after the symphony last night, I stopped on the sidewalk and said "listen, you can still hear the sounds of Fitzpatrick making an ass of himself in front of the cameras!" Here's a snippet of the DA's cross-examination. The thought of his screaming echoing in the building for days on end made us snicker, and I think a few people behind us joined in.
I think what Fitz was trying to do was a hard-hitting cross-examination of a person that just about everyone thinks is guilty of two murders (she's only on trial for one of them), forging a will, and the attempted murder and framing of her own daughter. No one's laughing at that, or making light of that. What does strike us as sadly comical is a DA shouting questions at the defendant "until he's hoarse," according to one news account.
People have the right to see the inner workings of the justice system - I don't dispute that. After all, most of us will never see the inside of a courtroom unless we're called to jury duty. For the majority, what we think we know about our criminal justice system we learned from Law and Order, The Practice, LA Law, Matlock (remember that seersucker suit Andy Griffith always wore in court?) or the old Perry Mason shows. But when there are cameras in the courtroom, are we really getting a true picture of the justice system, or are we also getting some really bad acting?
Who can ever forget the OJ Simpson trial, and the lead-ups to it: Who sits where, and what camera angles will be used, and what will everyone wear? Oh dear lord, Marcia Clark changed her hair! And speaking of hair, no one will ever forget Kato Kaelin's blond mop. Had there not been TVs in the courtroom, we might have been spared all of that nonsense. And 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' as well, but that's another story.
Here's another good illustration of Fitz -- listen for the Lou Gehrig reference. I guess this must be his equivalent of Johnnie Cochran's 'if it doesn't fit, you must acquit'.
The case, and cameras in the courtroom, should be about getting justice for the families who have been irreparably harmed. It shouldn't be about grandstanding, screaming and mocking questions from the DA. I'd like to think that even Fitzpatrick would remember that.