Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Lesson from a Breakdown

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Really. Nobody does.

But, you know, if you've done something wrong, there are certain things that perhaps might not be so surprising.

I only mention this because my car broke down last week. No, I wasn't expecting it to break down, but it wasn't all that shocking. I took it in to the dealer and settled down to wait.

There are large TVs in the waiting area and, in between reading a magazine and checking for email, I glanced up at one of them.

After about an hour of Fran Drescher (who seemed to be doing a remarkable impression of Mike Myers in drag on a Saturday Night Live talk show), on came a program called Judge Pirro.

I'd never heard of Judge Pirro before but it struck me then that women are remarkably well-represented in the television judiciary. Real life has a lot to learn from television.

But that wasn't what really caught my attention. The most amazing thing about this program was the commercials.

The best and most frightening one was for a bail bond company. It consisted of seemingly tranquil middle class life suddenly interrupted by a narrator announcing, "No one expects to be arrested!"


Any of us could be arrested at any time?

I found myself looking around the room for signs of police presence.

This was followed by a commercial explaining how insurance companies swoop down on victims of disaster and get 90% of them to settle for far less than they're due. If only they'd had the lawyer who bought this TV ad to help them out.

I was beginning to lose faith in the judicial system that seemed so fair when Judge Pirro was in charge.

Fortunately, soon thereafter came a commercial for the law firm of Binder & Binder with the catch phrase: "Nobody intimidates our clients! Nobody!"

I felt a little intimidated just hearing that.

I looked around the room for signs of Binder & Binder clients. Fortunately, no one looked that fearsome.

What can we learn from this?

I had to think about this for a while. I was waiting for the car so I didn't have anything better to do.

Could it mean that the audience for TV judging shows is made up of criminals and fraud victims? Could TV judging shows be inspiring criminals to take advantage of the kind of people who end up on TV judging shows?

Both are plausible explanations but I prefer this: the shows are inspiring millions to become criminals or victims so that they can get on the shows. And not everybody gets to be on TV so they end up needing lawyers and bail bondsmen.

The quest for fame in Hollywood has never been easy.

CREDIBILITY. OK, I know this probably didn't bother anyone else, but I thought it was strange.

The December issue of the California Bar e-Journal sports this top headline: "Chief justice-elect rolls up her sleeves."

Right below it is a picture of the new chief - wearing a short-sleeve shirt.

This is a publication that needs a fact-checker.

By the way, later in the story we're told the chief justice "wears three hats."

This is just above another picture of the justice - bare-headed.

It's probably just me....

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.