TV show provides glimpse into case

April 12, 2011
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Normally, when I read Indiana Court of Appeals opinions, I have no knowledge of the background of the case. Sometimes, the court gets a case that has received extensive news coverage, so I recognize a party’s name or I wrote a preview of the case’s oral arguments.

Today, I came across a new reason as to why a case was familiar: I watched the crime investigation unfold on television.

I was a big fan of the show “The Shift” that aired on the Investigation Discovery channel. I’ve always enjoyed “reality” detective/cop shows yet can’t get into shows like CSI or Law and Order. When I learned that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide division was going to be featured in a TV show because of its solving rate of murders, I tuned in every week it was on.

That’s how I learned about Lamar Crawford’s case before it appeared on the Court of Appeals’ website today.

Crawford appealed his murder conviction, which included a challenge to the production company of the show to turn over footage and interviews relating to the investigation. He lost the challenge.

While watching “The Shift,” I did wonder how it would affect the trials of the accused. I vaguely remember a news article in which someone arrested and shown on the show challenged the footage because he wouldn’t get a fair trial. It’s a valid concern. I’m not sure how many people watched the show, as it was on a channel that you would have to have a pretty extensive cable/satellite package to get. I haven’t seen it on the schedule in months, although information about the show is still up on the ID channel’s website.  

As an attorney or judge, what do you think about reality shows that identify people accused of crimes? Are they a good way to inform the general public about the work police do or another thing that can cause problems in obtaining a fair trial?



 

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