By Hannah Reich Berman
For close to five months, I have done little else but sit in front of my television and watch the murder trial of one Jodi Arias. As I have always been a courtroom junkie, this was right up my alley. Fortunately for me, the trial took place in Arizona, which is three hours behind us, as that state doesn’t believe in Daylight-Saving Time. Court sessions sometimes began at 9 in the morning there and other times they started at 10, but either one was fine with me since that meant I was able to go about my business each morning and be home by either noon or by 1 o’clock.
As I don’t DVR or TiVo anything, I watched the proceedings live. And this I did on a daily basis. It was somewhat of a challenge, but I survived it. One time, when I went out for brunch at 11 with one of my daughters, I glanced at my watch, saw that it was after 12, and said, “Oops! Sorry, honey, but I have to run. I’m due in court in 15 minutes.” Normally she would have looked at me like I had lost my mind. I am accustomed to those looks. They no longer bother me. But this time, she did not give me “the look.” She didn’t even bat an eyelash. She knew from past experiences with her mother that, when there is a juicy trial afoot, there is no sense arguing.
I was not the only person to be so vested in this case. It grabbed the attention of thousands of people all over the country. For people like me and the other watchers, it was OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony all over again. And given the fact that those two cases ended with the defendants getting off, I was praying this would not be another one of those times when a murderer goes free. I kept thinking that if this jury didn’t do the right thing, it would be a “three strikes and you’re out” scenario for me and reason enough for me to totally give up on our judicial system—which, by the way, I am not always so thrilled with.
But this time it worked out exactly as it should have, and the defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder. There were other choices, such as second-degree murder and third-degree murder, also known as manslaughter. When the verdict was handed down, I was so elated. We’re not supposed to rejoice at the suffering of another human being or be happy that someone might be put to death. In general I go along with that, but this was one of those times when I could not restrain myself. To put it succinctly, I was thrilled. This came as no surprise to many, as I received calls from family and friend congratulating me on the victory! By the time the day ended I felt as if I were the prosecutor.
The goings-on are still not over. There is more to be considered. Apparently, within the law, everything has subcategories. There is felony murder, premeditated murder, etc. There is also a penalty phase to a trial. It doesn’t end with finding a person guilty. Does she get life in prison or the death penalty? To some they would seem to be one and the same, since a lifetime of incarceration is akin to a death. But I am digressing here. Given the fact that I watch these court cases, I should know more than I do. I should be far more educated about the law, but I am not because I don’t focus on that. My focus is on other things and I pay too little attention to the law itself.
The sometimes lurid and grizzly details, as well as the personalities of the defendants and the suffering of their victims’ survivors, are what keep me riveted. I have been known to skip a yoga class, to cancel a lunch date, and even to change a doctor’s appointment in order not to miss important trials, specifically when I know there will be testimony from an important witness. And this was one of those times. The Jodi Arias trial ranked right up there with OJ and Casey.
When my husband, Arnie, and I would have an argument over something that I had done (or not done), I was usually able to weasel out of it. No one is better at getting out of trouble than I am. That’s because I have so much practice! As a result, after we would make up, Hubby inevitably concluded our heated discussion with the same comment: “I swear, Hannah, you should have been a lawyer.” He was not too far off.
But he had no idea that there was so much more to it than that. I didn’t know it myself at the time, until I got hooked on some of these high-profile court cases. To date, there have been just the three aforementioned ones that have captivated me. This is not to say that during these televised trials I do nothing else. Occasionally I wash a dish or do the laundry. That’s what commercials are for.
That’s the way it is! v
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.