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February 25, 2006

Conviction? Oh, that's clever.

Dick Wolf, Mr. Law and Order, has a new show that sings the praises of the beloved prosecutor. The show is called “Conviction.” You know, that's what prosecutors get b/c that's what they have.

(Excuse me. I just had to pause there to get a drink because I was starting to gag a little.)

From the name alone you can tell this is just going to be a top-notch show. And the opening scenes do not disappoint, setting up the whole cliched sympathy story about Nick Potter, the hot-shot law student who went to a great school (NYU) and has rich and powerful parents and friends but who turns down the big money firm job ($150k/year!) because “I really want to try cases.” You might think that's a bit of a dropped ball; if the guy really had conviction, wouldn't his motivation be to protect the public and put the bad guys behind bars? Of course it would! But don't worry, the show knows what it's doing—Potter can't just be born with the required conviction, he's going to have to earn it.

As Potter goes about this task, the show makes sure to hammer us over the head with the righteousness of the prosecutor's profession just about as often as it can. Take, for example, our young hero's first meeting with his supervisor. As young Harry, er, Nick Potter is leaving his supervisor's office he points to a picture of a young, blonde, white girl pinned to the supervisor's bulletin board. “Is that your daughter?” Potter asks. “No. Murder victim,” the supervisor mutters. Hammer, meet head.

But it gets even better when a prosecutor is killed “in the line of duty.” (Because, well, you know, that kind of thing happens all the time.) The message is clear: Just like the cops, these valiant prosecutors are putting their lives on the line every day just to keep the streets safe for you, dear viewer. Don't you love and admire them?

To its credit, the show does not depict prosecutors as saints. They oversleep, drink too much, and have problems in their relationships. Sometimes they even make little blonde girls (there's a theme here, it seems) cry in order to make them testify so they can put the bad guys behind bars. Of course, that prosecutor had to make that little girl cry because of the cruel injustice that is the rule against hearsay and the defendant's right to cross examine witnesses against him. If not for that, the prosecutor could do the right thing and lock the bad guy up on the basis of videotaped testimony alone. Damn that pesky Constitution!

To further make the point that prosecutors are only human (but nobly so, because of their, um, conviction), one of them even leaves evidence laying around in a public place, thereby destroying the chain of custody and making the evidence inadmissible against her defendant. Lucky for us, the vulnerable and innocent public, the judge is there to save silly prosecutors like this from their own stupidity and help them keep increasing the prison population; the good judge just chooses to ignore this glaring violation of the rules of evidence. Hooray for the objective factfinder who is guided only by the rule off law!

In sum, the show is basically what you'd expect from the creator of Law & Order—another pean to the people that work so hard and sacrifice so much to keep us all safe. I for one, could hardly be more thankful. *cough*

Sarcasm aside, you know I'm going to keep watching the show. The over/under on Potter has him at three months. I'd say the over/under on this show is about three weeks. If you've seen it, would you take the over or the under?

Posted February 25, 2006 04:05 PM | crimlaw tv land

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» I have con-viction and con-viction in me! from a Public Defender
Ambimb has a funny and insightful take on Dick Wolf's new Law and Order incarnation: Conviction. [Read More]

Tracked on February 27, 2006 10:46 AM

I'll take the under. The show is on Friday night and that's the death knell for any new show right off the bat.

I watched it too. I was struck by the same things that you were struck by. You know it would be nice if someone did a show about public defenders or something. You would think the public would get tired of the same rehashed stuff (I guess I can't talk, I do watch all of the Law and Orders).

Posted by: DG at February 26, 2006 08:41 AM

AmbImb, I thought of you when I saw the commercials for this show. Didn't bother to watch it though. I'd rather read your blog anyway.

Posted by: Sui Generis at February 27, 2006 09:33 AM

Hee. The first time I saw the preview for this show, I immediately wondered what you'd have to say about it. Especially since, you know, the average age of a prosecutor is 28, or whatever. Only 28! Babes in the woods, I tell you! Guaranteed to create drama and hilarity! Did we mention they are only 28? (Has 28 become the new 22?)

Posted by: raquel at February 27, 2006 09:33 AM

I, for one, am certainly going to be watching this show religiously. I can't wait to see the hard-working prosecutors finally getting the recognition they deserve for putting the scum of the earth behind bars forever. There could not have been a better concept for a show.

What a name, too! Perfect!


Posted by: Gideon at February 27, 2006 10:30 AM

Live it, don't need to see it. One point. Chain of custody goes to weight,not admissibility.[-)

Oh, yes. Prosecutors killed in the line of duty. Not a big number, but not a big selling point, either. See:

Posted by: misterDA at March 2, 2006 04:22 PM

I take over. I liked it. I agree it's a little over-the-top, and I often get concerned about what shows like this make the public think about prosecutors vs. defense lawyers. In my limited experience, it's always the prosecutors doing the unethical stuff, leading to wrongful convictions. But it was exciting and interesting. I am addicted to all the law & orders, though, so this is perfect for someone like me :)

What's happened to that show about the innocence project? is that still on?

Posted by: MF at March 8, 2006 10:26 AM

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