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October 24th, 2002

America is an Episode of Court TV

When I was a very young lawyer, Catherine Crier was a very young judge in Dallas County. She was a very good judge, who was intellectual and yet had a good, if firm, judicial temperament. She seemed to choose to frost her hair out of a curious desire to look *older* than she was (my memory is she was 29 or so, but I am not sure on that), which struck me as understandable and yet odd. Trial judges serve an important function, but they are not media darlings. Yet Judge Crier seemed to end up in fashion shots in magazines and the like. It was little surprise when she was snapped up by a cable network as a news commentator. Last time I saw her, she was passing her judgments on talk shows on Court TV.

Today the authorities seem to believe, without quite saying so, that they have caught a sniper who shot several people seemingly at random in VA and MD. My local AOL news service screens have due coverage of this momentous event.

Yet, already, the news articles seem to be shifting their focus. You see, the actress Wynonna Ryder is being placed on trial in a five thousand dollar shoplifting case in Los Angeles. The nation turns its lonely eyes to Wynonna, because our attention span for snipers is momentarily sated, and we have celebrities to try.

I do not have an opinion as to Ms. Ryder's guilt or innocence, as my opinions about Ms. Ryder pretty much stop with how cool her makeup was as a young teen in Beetlejuice. But I do have an opinion about our crime-as-entertainment culture, and what it feeds and what it means.

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