Thursday, February 22, 2007

Was the Judge in the Anna Nicole Smith Case 'Bizarre' for Choking Up While Reading His Ruling?

Ann Althouse thinks so. Some of her commenters agree. Others think that Judge Larry Seidlin was crying in a calculated play for media attention. (See clip of the judge's ruling, linked by Althouse here.)

I think that these comments are unfair. So I threw a cat among the pigeons to say so:
I haven't really followed this case, although I note that MSNBC, under the questionable leadership of Dan Abrams, and Fox News have covered the thing like it was the most important event in the world.

But, based on this clip and gleanings derived from surfing away from constant news channel coverage of the case, I can't feel at all critical of this judge.

Nor do I think he was being disingenuine, [as some of Althouse's commenters suggested].

It was obvious that he was glad to be done with the case. So I think it's absurd to think that he was making a play for face time on 'Larry King Live,' though LK will no doubt hound him for an exclusive interview.

The judge gave a hint as to why he was so emotional when he commented that the media frenzy, something with which Smith had dealt through much of her adult life, had almost laid him out, even though he'd endured it [for] only a week-and-a-half.

Smith, of course, craved media attention. But we have seen in recent days by way of the bizarre behavior of Britney Spears, just how unnatural, dehumanizing, and pressure-inducing being in the middle of a media circus can be, even for someone who seeks attention and celebrity.

One can only imagine how much harder it is to handle for one who hasn't courted the sort of attention given to the judge in this case.

The clip to which you linked, Ann, is all I saw of this judge. I wouldn't call him bizarre. He seemed to me both human and thorough.

I could be proven wrong about this guy. The cynics may be proven correct that this was all a show. Or others may be shown to be correct in characterizing his performance as bizarre, reflective of some sort of emotional instability.

But I feel that the criticisms leveled against him here are terribly unfair.
I'm not a fan of melodrama. But how would those of us of relatively normal psyches, with no need to be the center of attention, react if suddenly we were constantly encircled by TV cameras, paparazzi, and crowds of thrill-seekers, inundated by telephone calls and other contact? These are not the normal experiences of local judges. Seidlin has rendered a ruling. He did his job. So what if he choked up? The guy deserves a break!

And the media needs to find important stories to cover.

(For tangential comments dealing with the vapidity of contemporary culture as seen in the attention given Smith's death, see here.)

[THANKS TO: the editors of AOL's entertainment page for linking to this post.]

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