Tomorrow, let’s hope the news steps away from our President calling NFL players S.O.B.’s, or uninviting the Warriors to the White House as he continues to “Make America Great Again”. However, on Tuesday, I can’t promise whether America has attained greatness (my vote is yes), but America will get another opportunity to watch a television series on the Menendez Brothers Murders.
My hunch is the series will once again show “the real story” on details that took place before, during, and after the ultimate convictions of both brothers. This article is not about the case that has been factually covered by many, but the impact it has had on our country with respect to how our legal system works. Although court TV was relatively new, the Menendez case brought mainstream into the judicial process, not just because the crime was so heinous combined with wealth and Hollywood lifestyles, but the power television can play on a real-life event, hence opening the door for “reality television”.
Two years prior to the “trial of our lifetime” (Orenthal), I remember just how unusual it seemed to watch a murder trial on television, and as the facts unfolded, it became increasingly bizarre. Nationally televised events are generally well done, and I have a vivid recollection of the Menendez trial primarily because of the presentation. It was similar to Monday Night Football, with a main commentator, some famous attorney providing colorful commentary, as well as the sideline announcers that would periodically step in to describe the look of the defendants, or some testimonial about the body movement of a juror.
During the first trial (which was televised) I remember a commentator pointing out that Defense Attorney, Leslie Abramson, would consistently call the Menendez brothers, “the boys”, as a subliminal message to jurors that their self-defense argument would be more persuasive, opposed to seeing a couple of adults claiming various levels of verbal and physical abuse.
Today, I can seriously look back and realize that the media was the strongest component during the Menendez Brothers trial. Regardless of whether the prosecution or the defense was more credible or displayed guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the underlying memories embedded within me were primarily generated from the media, along with a factually horrifying case. Leslie Abramson was coined the tough, true believing defense counsel, and the stories etched in my mind were the media boosted “purchase of 3 Rolex watches”, a car, private tennis lessons, and numerous stories so outlandish, that even Jim Carrey parodied the 911 call in the movie, The Cable Guy, to insure pop-culture had been engulfed in the sad, crazy, and bizarre case of the People of California vs Lyle and Erik Menendez.
The event did little for exposing how the legal process works in the typical case, it didn’t create an enduring legal precedent other than the issue of whether or not the counselor, Oziel, had to testify against his right of confidentially, due to his life being threatened by one of the “boys” which lead to his testimony.
In the end, my memory is filled with statements presented by the media, most of which would never be heard by a judge, and the crazy antics of the Menendez brothers immediately after committing these unthinkable acts against their parents, and of course for those of us that continued to follow…I believe both of the Menendez brother’s either are married or were married to females that established their relationship as pen pals. So, this case, if anything else, was a warm up for the media across the Globe for the trial that two years later, left us with, “if the glove don’t fit..you must acquit”.