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« Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered | Main | Soap Blog Coalition »

March 31, 2010

Much Like Ricky Martin, I Must Share My Truth

General Hospital with its criminal trials...I just cannot deal anymore.  The preceding sentence is not my aforementioned truth, but it's related.

Judge Carroll:  What just took place in this courtroom was a mockery of jurisprudence, an open and egregious assault on the rule of law.  And I hold all the participants equally responsible.

How very meta.

There is something I have not shared with you, faithful readers, through our years together.  Something I didn't feel comfortable opening up about, because of the way society tends to judge people like me.  The jokes, the scorn -- in some circles they are unrelenting.  People question my choice, my direction, the peers I surround myself with.  It's often all too much to bear.  But propelled by the last few episodes of General Hospital, I am empowered to tell you the truth about my real life.  It's something some of you may have suspected based on my prior rants, but I wasn't ready to be fully honest with you back then, in the dark days of the mid- to late-aughts.  So here goes.

I am....a lawyer.

::deep breath::

In fact, I used to be a criminal prosecutor.

::deeper breath::

And I watch General Hospital.  I'm sure you understand why I am therefore convinced that this show is going to kill me, via rage-induced aneurysm. 

I do not expect soap operas to be legal documentaries.  I understand that many things about trials, including aspects I geekily adored, do not translate as interesting onscreen.  So the fact that shows, even very good ones, must fudge the details a bit is totally understandable.  The fact that crappy shows have to do so even more is also a concept I accept.  (Partly because I am a bit of a masochist, and I figure if I willingly watch crap then it should really insult my intelligence on as many levels as possible.)  But I am assured by other, non-lawyer viewers (including the esteemed Mallory, who has seen every episode of Law & Order and SVU ever but is not technically admitted to the New York bar) that the liberties GH takes with the simplest of legal concepts are beyond what we as a crappy-TV-show-watching public have graciously agreed to accept and are obvious even to those fortunate enough not to have law school loans roughly equivalent to some small countries' GNPs. 

Let's start with just a few of the basic legal principles this show -- which is shot in Los Angeles and therefore has access to a bajillion attorneys (many currently in search of work!) that it could easily consult about such things -- has massacred in the last couple of days alone:

  • Prosecutors don't get to talk to defendants who are represented by counsel.  That leads to little inconveniences like being disbarred.  In fact, attorneys in general can't speak to represented parties.  It's not an especially twisty concept to grasp.
  • Jurors aren't allowed to know and have clear opinions about the defendant or other witnesses at the trial.  Perhaps the GH showrunners took "jury of one's peers" a bit too literally?  They do tend to misunderstand lots of other basic ideas.  You know, like "quality television programming" and "misogyny is bad." 
  • Jurors also don't get to stand up and say that they are biased and won't find the defendant guilty, and remain on the jury.  These kinds of thing would interfere with the right to an impartial jury, which isn't really one of the important rights, I guess, unless you think stuff in the constitution has any particular significance.  (It also violates my equally important right not to be forced to roll my eyes so hard that I give myself a migraine. That right is only in my state constitution, though, so obviously it's less important.)
  • Judges don't get to "stipulate" to random shit a juror spouts out, especially something like "the defendant and the witness clearly hate each other."  Finger-gunning the judge is also frowned upon.  Some people have actually advocated for the abolition of finger-gunning in all circumstances.  I am a fan of those people.
  • Witnesses aren't allowed to testify as if it is fact about what other people thought.  This is called "speculation," and also "something that requires ESP."
  • Prosecutors don't get to have bizarre enunciation patterns and smile at the most inappropriate times.  Okay, there are no rules against those things per se, but my god Dahlia Salem makes some acting choices that should be illegal.

I can't keep listing these things out, because it will be boring for you and will contribute to my rapidly rising blood pressure.  There is only so much Ketel One a girl can drink on a worknight, after all, especially when you know what they say about the alcoholism rate among attorneys.  (I have not seen statistics, but I suspect it is even higher among the thousands of us who are both attorneys and soap bloggers.)

So there you go; you know my truth.  I am a fortunate lawyer.  I am a less fortunate lawyer-moonlighting-as-soap-blogger, because I have to watch this effing show. 

Comments

Oh, wow... an actual lawyer watching soap operas, where guilty parties routinely get off scott free or never even go to trial, people can rape other people and then become beloved characters within a year, and oh my god, how do you do it? Seriously, how??

I admire your strength and perseverance. Be strong, Becca.

I understand your pain. I have a degree in psychology and this show and its treatments of anything related to mental health makes me want to cry. I actually don't really watch anymore, I'd much rather read your blog and hear how terrible it is. I have always hated the way GH represents the legal system. I had the biggest rant after Alexis' custody hearing with Ric. I can't quite remember what had me so upset, I have repressed it. Thank you for doing this for us though ladies. You have saved a lot of people a lot of suffering. You are doing a public service! :)

Everyone who reads this blog is a lawyer or works in a courtroom in some way AND we can comment again????? Wow, what a day! I am commenting even though I have nothing to say just because I CAN!!!!!

@ Leah: I also remember being irate of the custody battle and also seem to have repressed why. I've handled a few pro bono divorces for domestic violence victims (I'm a big bad corporate lawyer in my day job), and it's certainly not just the criminal trials they get insanely wrong. Also, with a psychology degree, you may be even braver than us lawyers. You must hide under the bed any time that Lainey appears on screen.

P.S. Adding to the chorus: YAY! Typepad no longer hates Google Chrome. Happy days are here again!

Emmy, Hopefully in the upcoming AMC trial the defense won't present its case first! Yeah, they did that in Adam's trial a few months.

look Becca..you coming out of the lawyer closet enabled us all to post again! Sharing your truth is good.

"Hi, I'm Becca, and I'm a lwayer. Hi Becca!" ;)

Stay strong, woman! And the mute and fast-forward buttons are your friends!

Don't watch Thursday's episode if you are having any headaches, it's definitely a brain bleed red alert episode :-(

Jurors are sequestered @ a 4 Star Hotel, the ever exploding MC of course. And the jurors get to have sleepovers with celebrity ex fiancees who were shot in the chest at their wedding to the accused. That;s right, and for a bonus taste of crazy the judge sees Kate and Coleman post coital and still he's on the damn jury!

And then it gets even more obscene and bizarre. Pod Robin takes the stand as a "surprise" witness.....

I had to comment just because it appears that I finally can.

I am a reformed lawyer--gave it up 20 years ago--but these trials still kill me. Coleman's "cuteness" is wearing very thin. I actually think Diane sometimes sounds like she knows what she is doing, but the dialogue with the jury and the ridiculously leading questioning give me a proper headache.

The only soap I've ever seen do a trial kind of well is Y&R. I don't watch that show very often, so I don't know if that is typical or I just got them on a good day.

I guess the thing that frosts me the most is the total disrespect for the intelligence of the audience, lawyer or not.

I can post? Shut up!

I love that Ron Carlivati (OLTL HW) is a lawyer....and always enjoy their courtroom scenes...

And I think the guy that plays Andrew Carpenter is now a RL lawyer...

oooooooooooh, can I try to post, can I , can I? Let us see......

Holy hockey sticks! I am too excited now, it finally works, I wonder if it was a firefox thing, that is what I have no too...As a total aside, reading the above I wonder how many lawyers do watch this show!

Haha. I am (also) an attorney and a regular reader of your blog. I applaud you for coming out (!) and the other feat of great courage you have shown...actually watching these damn stupid, angry-making trial scenes. All it took was those first idiotic scenes of the jury pool/voir dire to compel my finger on the ff button every time I see that courtroom set. I get irritated. Very irritated. Not because the writers are too lazy to search "jury trial" on wikipedia, but because tptb assumes its viewing audience is truly and utterly ignorant. Your rant is catharsis for those of us with JD's,and I imagine for all those who have passed a 7th grade civics class.

I am also a lawyer and a GH fan for more years than I care to admit. The courtroom scenes are the comedy scenes right?? Diane is so over the top and the prosecutor is ridiculous--no prosecutor has the time to go visit all the witnesses and the defendant as much as she does! But I throw all logical reasoning out the window and watch...and laugh....and lust after Jason :)

Hoping this posts...

Like many people, I have quite a few relatives and friends who practice, so along with everyone here, I don't hold it against you what your real profession is.

I'm in federal law enforcement although I don't get to see the trial aspect at all due to my position, but even I know enough to find any story dealing with the police or lawyers to be laughable. To this day, one of my favorite legal shows is Night Court. Now that was realistic! I keep hoping they'll put out more seasons on DVD.

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