April 15, 2013
Legal hearings as depicted on The Practice or Boston Legal are ideal examples of how never to behave. In several episodes of each show, attorneys not only contradicted judges in open court, they rudely insulted them. This was usually countered with a sharp glare or a stern, “Be careful, counselor.”
This will not happen in actual practice. In such a situation the least you should expect is a public reprimand (which goes on your permanent record), the fair possibility of a bench fine (several thousand dollars if you are deliberately demeaning), and you might be thrown in jail for contempt.
What’s known as the “CSI effect” is a phenomenon where juries believe that every technological advance they see on television should be reproducible in court. Aside from the fact that television is fictional and often merely invents science, broadcasters sometimes charge $100,000 for a 30-second commercial while jurors are paid anywhere from $4 to $50 a day.
In other words, there is no money for high-tech investigations in any but the most high-profile cases. If a burglar enters your home in many jurisdictions, the department won’t even dust for fingerprints. It’s not that they don’t want to catch the perpetrator; they simply don’t have the resources to treat everyone as if he’s after the Crown Jewels.
For good or ill (mostly ill), intermittent glimpses of the legal system have done nothing to increase either the public esteem or the general understanding of jurisprudence. Hollywood’s cameras have played a far greater role in developing common notions of justice than have public cameras in the courthouse.