TV Lawyers

Perry Mason and Della Street

I remember watching Perry Mason literally sitting on my fathers knee in some rented house in Everett as a child. Like everything in the early 1960’s, the show was in black and white, and I do believe we as a country expected the law to be as stark; right and wrong.

Dad was in law school and as I was a child, the intimidating theme music from Perry Mason scared me, played while as the credits rolled past at the end of the show past those stacked law books which implies a legal system of swift and sure justice for anyone who steps out of line.

I am afraid I have to report that things have slid a bit since those days of black and white television, and black and white laws, values, core beliefs.  Stepping out of line is instead a value in and of itself. Everyone is in color now, not even shades of grey. Everything seems possible.

As such people expect the same clarity of results can be produced in real life courtrooms using all the tools as shown on TV. The lawyer just has to ask the right questions and the opponent will break down and confess his inferior character. Or juries want to know why the state did not produce the DNA evidence linking the defendant to the crime, like on television.

Dr. Bull, Marisa, and Bennie

The answer is that television has a larger budget that the local prosecutor.

And let’s face it, no one I know has a “jury consultant” like Dr. Jason Bull. The idea Dr. Bull****  has a mirror jury running while the real jury hears the evidence too, ( how, it is never explained ) all of this is displayed in an easy to understand room sized display of green and red grid boxes representing how each juror will vote. It is a remarkable work of fiction. I pray none of the juries I encounter in the future believe I have something like that running back in the confines of Newton Kight LLP.

Like most professions I suppose, you really are never going to know what it is really like unless you live it. For lawyers that means stumbling into law school with some kind of bachelors degree that rarely prepares the student for the discipline required to think like a lawyer.

Professor Kingsfield, The Paper Chase

What follows is three years of hardship; a mind bending experience where all thought of art and beauty is extinguished and instead one thinks solely of torts, crimes, pleadings and procedure.

And one never thinks in color again. The lawyer remains in a world of black and white.



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