America’s obsession with trials


Hansjörg Keller via unsplash

Televised court cases have become a staple for those who are interested in true crime and criminals.

Parker Paulson, News Editor

Every day, thousands of Americans get dressed and ready for the day in order to prepare for the worst thing imaginable for most adults: jury duty. As these adults sit in court going over another domestic abuse case, they wonder why they could not be in the exciting cases – the ones all over the internet about the serial killers or the one with famous people in them so at least they could catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp.

So this begs the question: With Americans’ dislike of jury duty, why do people have such an obsession over famous court cases and true crime?

Over the past couple years, there have been a number of court cases that took the world by storm. Recently, the Kyle Rittenhouse case became popular over the internet as a young teen testified in court, and now most recently Johnny Depp is suing his ex-wife for defamation.

These cases could have been kept in the dark as celebrities discuss their personal affairs in secret like most individuals would prefer. Instead, the internet takes these trials and dissects every single portion of them, effectively changing the lives of the defendants forever.

With the Rittenhouse case, the teenager could have had a case that did not explode on the internet, and maybe people would not recognize him wherever he went. Yet due to his case, Rittenhouse is now considered a borderline “celebrity” and will be treated differently everywhere he goes.

People are now seeing the true sides of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship as well. Regardless of the court’s decision, the internet instantly took Depp’s side in the case and found every single thing wrong with Heard’s case, completely negating the testimony of the other side.

Due to the internet presence in the case, if Heard wins the case, many feel it would be an “injustice” rather than what the jury thought was best from the evidence presented. However, if Depp wins, others may consider it a great win showing that men are subject to domestic abuse as well.

If this case was “just another domestic abuse case,” would the reactions have been similar?

Senior Elsa Gilbeck, who has done jury duty, believes that the internet is influencing the case at hand. “Social media and television can change anything said during court. It’s important to be unbiased and open to all information, but social media always tends to lean to one side more than the other,” she said.

Not all court hearings are televised and released to the public, yet because Depp and Heard are celebrities, people figured that it would make good television. According to the Notre Dame Law Review, it is up to the judge whether media is allowed in the courtroom or not. Some people believe that excluding media allows the defendant the right to a fair trial, while news sources believe that broadcasting court is a right of the press.

Psychology teacher Ann Berger believes that when celebrities have large amounts of positive acclaim, it is often hard for people to separate them from their accomplishments. “Take the OJ Simpson trial. Looking back at it, there is a high probability that he committed the murder. However, due to his image from football and his celebrity status, there is a chance that the jury already had a preconceived perception of him,” she said.

Court cases will continue to amaze the public, and in turn people will develop their own feelings for more popular cases involving celebrities. Regardless of whether people are in the court or not, Americans will continue their obsession over other people’s lives that aren’t their own.