I have talked with a lot of people who are unaware that they can venture into any courthouse in our country, including any in Pensacola or anywhere in Florida, and watch real life drama unfold. Sometimes, is special cases, for example child abuse cases, the courtroom may be closed when a child testifies. However, 95% of all cases, state or federal, are open to the public to observe. Through the years I have seen “court room junkies,” people, usually retired, who go from courtroom to courtroom watching trials that interest them. Unlike television, many trials are not full of excitement unless you consider watching golf on t.v. an exciting, action packed sport. (No offense to golfers). White collar cases, where large amounts of paperwork are admitted into evidence are generally a bit boring. Also, personal injury cases, although handled sometimes by excellent lawyers, are generally not full of what most of us would consider excitement.
However, there is nothing like a murder case to get one’s interest peaked. Crime scene testimony, photographs, suspect statements, witnesses testimony, etc., can all be observed and heard first hand if one merely wants to take the time to go to the courthouse to watch. The judges in Pensacola welcome observers in the audience. You will see that the magical feats performed on CSI and other crime shows are not often present in real life trials. A good method of finding where “the action is” is to ask a courthouse security person or bailiff which judge is handling a felony trial or if there are any murder, drug, sexual battery cases, etc. being tried that week. Generally, in almost all courthouses, including Pensacola, you will find something interesting to watch. Something else you will find out if you watch trials down at your county courthouse: the O.J. trial was almost “make believe.” It’s too bad, in my opinion, that many people believe that the O.J. case is just another example of how our criminal justice system works. The O.J. case was a more of an entertainment show, not a trial. But that is another story in and of itself.