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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. 


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.

WOW. Becca, you are some crazy kind of masochist!

Bravo for coming out of the lawyer closet. It makes me love you even more!!!

Becca, I loved you rants before, and I will love your rants now, nothing has changed now that I know the truth. In fact, I may love them a little more now.

But you are being silly. GH has never been a show that has done trials well - maybe 30 years ago, but certainly not in the last ten to fifteen years. Under Guza, trials and courtroom scenes are the equivalent of Road Runner cartoons. They just keep making wilder sh*t up for fun, thinking the audience is too stupid to realize they have no idea what they are doing.

And really, look at the rest of the show. Doctors who specialize in EVERYTHING and can do any procedure that comes through the door? Lawyers who commit crimes and keep right on practicing? Police that can't seem to find the nose on their face? Mobsters who terrorize, threaten, shoot and kill people over ... what exactly do they traffic because it isn't drugs or ammo or anything mobs generally deal with (this is the morally superior mob you know, minus the murder, which is only bad if it is your child you try and kill)? Or what about computer hackers who can do ANYTHING in five minutes?

We love you anyway and promise not to make any lawyer jokes...

Wow, that is the first time something I wrote actually posted in months. The curse is over!!!

I promise to TRY to make any lawyer jokes. ;-)

That should say try to NOT make any lawyer jokes.

Aww, Becca. I knew there was a reason we get along so well (in the cyberspace sense of things anyway). I too am a lawyer and I too am consistently shocked and amazed at how GH and/or Days and/or any soap can bastardize the most basic legal concepts. It's not just that they are too stupid to get even the most basic things right, it is that they are obviously intentionally trying to get ALL of it wrong.

I have a real estate nightmare going back to court in a few weeks.

(A huge waste of the court's time. And the idiot harassing our condo board should be thrown away for years of abusing the judicial system needlessly)

Anyhoo, I was totally planning on "finger gunning" a few of his lawyers in open court and giving the evil douche bag I've named Mr. Litigious Loser the evil eye as well. Now you come out and admit this is not appropriate court room behavior?!?!

I'm all for coming out, but would you mind hopping back in so I can be Colemanesque next month? Then fly your freaky lawyer flag high ;-)

GH just keeps getting worse. It makes me wonder who will be hired next... Kate Gosselin as Carly #5? Sarah Palin as the ghost of Mattie Drake? Snooki as SORAS'D Emma?

HOLY INTERWEB MIRACLE! Or am I hallucinating from a GH induced brain bleed? Did I actually write a comment and it posted????? Yipeee :-)

Sarah, I can not believe you even put Snooki as a SORAS'D Emma out into the atmosphere.

Becca, can I sue for that as it is damaging to my mental health?

It's okay that you're a lawyer. I accept it. I would like to think that since you've come clean and we're standing by you that free legal advice is on the table??? I'm not saying I need any, but you never know. GH is still on the air and someone could snap one day.

I also like that you can shed light on the craziness of this show, b/c last night I said to my tv after Coleman made his declaration, "Okay, I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure of what's acceptable, but that seems hella wrong."

Lastly, I have a confession and hope I will still be accepted: I love Dahlia Salem.

Hear me out! It may have to do with my undying love of all things Another World and that I loved her on it, but I can help but get giddy when I see her. I also know it has to do with the fact that she wants to nail Sonny's ass to the wall and knows Dante lied about the shooting. I can't help it!

Sarah, I can not even believe you put Snooki possibly being a SORAS'D Emma into the atmosphere.

Becca, can I sue for that, as it is damaging to my mental health?

I'm okay with the fact that you're a lawyer. I accept it. I would also like to think that those of us who stand by you are entitled to some free legal advice. Not that I need any, but you never know. GH is still on the air, so someone could snap one day.

I like that you can shed light on a few things concering this trial and it's craziness, b/c last night after Coleman's declaration, I said to my tv, "I'm not a lawyer, so I can't be certain, but I think what just happened is hella wrong."

Now I have a confession to make: I love Dahlia Salem.

Hear me out! It may have something to do with my undying love for all things Another World and that I loved her on it, but I also love that Claire is on a mission to nail Sonny's ass to the wall. Will she succeed? Of course not! But he sure is looking scared and I love it and her for it! I can't help it!

Sorry for the double post. It was there, then gone, then I retyped what I could from memory.

But yay for my posts posting!

I too am a lawyer! And a soap fan! And (apparently) a masochist! I'm so excited by this news I am using gratuitous exclamation points!

I did give up on GH ages ago (aside from some clip watching). But you guys got me hooked on AMC solely for David and Greenlee...just in time for a soap trial. I'm sure I'm be joining you in aneurysm-land soon enough. (Though nothing can be worse than a Sonny/Jason trial, so you still have my sympathy.)

Now that you're out of the closet, i think i love you even more <3

omg, eeeeee! commenting in firefox works finally! eee!

What? Commenting is once again an option...?


Maybe they are thinking of you Becca because this trial hasn't included past insanities such as the witnesses watching other testimony on closed circuit television AND talking with the defendent privately in the witness room or whatever the techinical term for it was (jason's trial for alcazar's murder) or the victim's father prosecuting the case and teh step-grandfather of the accused's girlfriend on the jury (Johnny's trial for Logan's death). So maybe the Awesome Writer is fighting the small battles to keep you from exploding?

As for the lawyer jokes...it's not nearly as hard as if you told us you were in fact a Weeble and we'd have to retire all those jokes....we can deal with lawyers.

Wow! This "trial" must be killing you! I thought it was bad for me as a second year law student currently enrolled in classes on Evidence, Criminal Procedure and Professional Responsibility. I generally result to hysterical laughter at all courtroom scenes to restrain myself from throwing my remote at my television.

I guess I better try and see if my comment will post. It has not for such a long time. Well for all things Ricky Martin....you a lawyer that is fantastic. Wishing you all the best in your day job, hopefully it will pay for all the medication you will need to keep watching this show.

Hey, I'm a lawyer as well & I'm thinking if enough of us got together we might be able to do a class action suit against Guza for the mental anguish and possible physical harm he is doing to all lawyers who insanely still watch GH. Everyday of any trial or police activity, which let's be honest on GH is almost everyday as it is Mob based, I have to talk myself down.

I mean, when two cops watched Sonny hold a gun on to Ethan's head and threaten to kill him and then just let him walk away without charging him with....oh, I don't know, A CRIME!!! I thought that stroke I fear was all but assured.

Also, how Coleman, who Dante KNOWS pays protection money to Sonny is on the jury is just beyond me.

At least L&O and a few other's get it right enough for TV and a 48 minute format. Guza has DAYS/WEEKS/MONTHS to tell his damn stories and he can't get the most BASIC crap right.

Really would like to look into that class action case....any joiners?

I don't know if this will post or not because I haven't been able to post in months but...I too am a lawyer!! Strength in numbers!! I quit GH months ago and a GH trial certainly isn't going to induce me to watch. But, I'm still addicted to this blog. :)

I don't know if this will post or not because I haven't been able to post in months but...I too am a lawyer!! Strength in numbers!! I quit GH months ago and a GH trial certainly isn't going to induce me to watch. But, I'm still addicted to this blog. :)

Ohhh, how I love this, Becca! The idiocy of these GH trials makes me want to throw my TV out the window. I'm not a lawyer, but I read Helter-Skelter as a teenager and Coleman (not to mention Alice) would never even have MADE it on the jury, much less stayed there after an outburst like that!

It must take a special kind of stupid to be this dumb about trials. So thank you for pointing it out and giving me a good laugh!

zou2 - expand the class action suit to mental anguish for the avearge viewer with reasonable intelligence (ie - aware the people in the little box aren't real) and I for one will sign up.

To add to your list: As well, no "surprise witnesses" or "suprise pieces of evidence" ponied through at the last minute by the prosecution, only to leave a shocked and dismayed defense attorney in their wake. I'm a lowly stenographer, and even I know that.

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.

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