"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All Is Not Well In PD Land

For those who are not part of the paltry 5 million who watched the last episode, the insufferable David Feige, former PD in the Bronx, having written a ridiculous book about his experiences there, has now sold Stephen Bochco on producing a cable series for TNT, Raising the Bar, which continues his book's theme of crooked cops, crooked prosecutors, bad judges (they convict his clients) and-- surprise! -- virtuous, noble PD's. Being cable, plenty of promiscuous sex had to be thrown in to get folks to tune in. (Ken has a great summary of the show and characters).


The Boston Herald, finding the show "guilty of inanity," was rude enough to point out that:

In this universe, justice is dispensed on the basis of personal relationships between the court representatives. The defendants are pawns between rivals, roommates or lovers who look to one-up each other.
Never has the justice system looked so silly.

Or so hairy, for that matter, based on the overflowing locks of the hero of the show (Feige himself, but handsome and able to get lots of babes?)



But, oh dear, not even all the faithful are happy. The exquisitely sensitive Seth Abramson, himself a literary PD (he's a poet, dontcha know?) has lots of problems with Feige's little show, which he derides (quite accurately) as loaded down with "trashy talk, sex, skimpy clothing, and absurd courtroom melodrama." He's got ten questions about the absurdly unrealistic show (seconded by A Public Defender) , and Feige responds to him here. Interestingly, Feige offers no defense for the show beyond 1) it shows how much the PDs "care" for their really, truly, human clients; and 2) it shows how the "system" is broken, a recurrent theme for Feige.


Feige's problem has always been that he confuses losing cases as a defender with the "system" being "broken." But as I've mentioned before, even Feige admits the "error rate" (i.e., wrongful convictions) is very small, in the neighborhood of .5%. No one wants any error, but given the fact that the justice system only asks for proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction and not metaphysical certitude, the system is far from being broken.


Which may explain why TNT needs all the long hair, skimpy clothing, and sex to sell this show to viewers.



1 comment:

Art Deco said...

I think you have misplaced a decimal point. In post linked to, you attributed to him a claim of 0.5% error, not 0.05%.

There was an article in my home town paper about a year ago on the subject of the disposition of DWI cases. It seems that lawyers who make this sort of work their specialty prefer bench trials for those cases which go to trial. (At one time here in New York, 98% of all indictments were resolved through pleas - don't know the current figure or that for DWI cases). This surprised me as I have been told by other lawyers in general practice (about a decade ago) that your client very seldom benefits from a bench trial. The lawyers interviewed said juries are unpredictable and get sidetracked by irrelevant issues. What do you make of that?