NBC’s “Bad Judge” might be the worst show on network TV. The only group of people that it makes look worse than those in the legal profession is women in positions of power and influence in our society.
Just before I started law school, I wondered why there weren’t more lawyer/law school TV shows like there are for the medical profession, such as “Grey’s” or my personal favorite, “Scrubs.” I even decided to keep a column in the school’s newspaper, The Argonaut, about life as a first-year law student because of this.
It didn’t take more than a few weeks of law school to realize that the reason for the lack of TV shows about law school, and lawyers, is that nothing dramatic happens. No one walks into a classroom or office and shouts, “I need a will, STAT!”
Instead, all of law school occurs in a classroom and the lectures aren’t anywhere near entertaining enough to be on television. Most of being a lawyer occurs in an office, on the phone with opposing party or in documents.
Court is better than anything that happens on reality TV. Literally anything can happen and sometimes it does. But generally, few cases go to trial and unsurprisingly, most of the entertaining moments occur from an unrepresented, or pro se, parties.
While not much happens in the classroom entertainment wise, there is no shortage of drama outside of it. With all the drama, law school is a lot like high school with two exceptions: you can legally drink alcohol and you never have to check in with your parents. There’s gossip, there’s people talking shit about their classmates and pretending to be friends with them in person, cliches and a prom. The most interesting thing that occurs in law school occurs Friday night at the bar.
So I was interested to see NBC’s new show, “Bad Judge” when it first came out knowing that not enough occurs in a courtroom a network to fill a 22-minute show for an entire season. There was also the Kate Walsh factor. She’s generally pretty awesome. She might still be awesome, but she doesn’t have a script to showcase her talents.
Instead, she has a script that is weak on plot and heavy on gender stereotypes and fantasy. Walsh’s character, Rebecca Wright, is supposed to be a maverick judge, instead, she continuously disregards the profession’s professional and ethical rules (called canons).
She breaks at least one law in every episode, including stealing special brownies from the evidence locker and talks to lawyers in her chambers prior to trial without the other lawyer present, a huge no-go before considering she promises lawyers to help them win their case. She flips off cameras, takes recesses for naps and keeps jury members who are clearly biased towards the defendant.
When the opposing party appealed in a case, they met with her boss and he reached a decision the same day. Never mind that’s not how appeals work or that her boss doesn’t have the power to overrule her decisions.
No one expects a television show to be legally accurate, but the show goes past showing inaccurate facts to a blatant display of professional misconduct that sets the profession back more than any amount of lawyer jokes could.
People need to have confidence that when they find themselves in front of a judge, they are in front of an unbiased individual whose job it is to interrupt the law and ensure everyone gets a fair shot at this country’s legal system. Instead, I get texts from friends asking if judges can actually order people to do insane punishments.
If the show’s inaccurate portrayal of judges weren’t bad enough, the show goes one step further and fails at portraying women as professionals. Judge Wright sleeps with lawyers in her chambers, sleeps with expert witnesses and calls 911 while high.
When another female lawyer shares her courtroom, she is only successful because she relies on her ability to seduce the male members of the jury. (She also attempts to remove all women from the jury, which is you know, not permitted.)
Women, in all professions, constantly have to battle sexism in the workplace on a daily basis and fight to overcome stereotypes. It’s a battle that doesn’t need any additional footage provided weekly.
Women are qualified to serve as judges and represent clients for reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Unfortunately, there are people that still don’t believe that. Fortunately, NBC dismissed the show from its lineup earlier this week.