Courts: Fiction vs. Reality

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Fiction 2 Americans depend a great deal on entertainment to educate them about life. In several ways Americans live vicariously through the actors and actresses on television and believe themselves to learn many things from those actors and actresses. For example, many people have said they learned medical techniques by watching medical shows on television or believe they would know what to do in a medical emergency because they have seen it done on television. The same goes for Americans’ knowledge about Court hearings and the judicial system. Many things are done on television by actors playing lawyers or judges that are done just for the purpose of entertainment. “Reality-based” Court shows such as Judge Judy, People’s Court…show more content…
That is not always the case in real life. A classic example of this occurred in New York in 1984 where a white man named Bernard Goetz shot four young, black men on the New York City subway because, according to him, they were trying to rob him (, 2008). Goetz claimed to be acting in self-defense, but shot one boy twice, severing his spinal cord the second time. That seemed a bit more than self-defense to some. The youths, however, were found to have been carrying screwdrivers in their pockets at the time of the incident, which, to some people, proved they were up to no good. In that case, as so often happens, neither the victim nor the defendant seems perfectly innocent or entirely guilty. That is very often the case in real life situations. Sometimes there is just no clear cut right or wrong. About the only trial participants whose roles are properly portrayed by television court shows are those of court reporters, bailiffs and court clerks. Court reporters are traditionally almost never seen or heard from in movies or on television shows, even though their roles are extremely important to the legal process because they create the legal record of proceedings. Court clerks, who normally operate and run much of the court procedures and behind the scenes work, are also not usually seen or heard from in the courtroom, in television shows or real life. Only bailiffs, due to their ability to carry a gun in the court room, are
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