The series shows the workings of the judicial system, beginning with the arraignment and continuing through the lawyers process of building a case, investigating leads and preparing witnesses and defendants for trial.
Lennie Briscoe, now retired from the NYPD, joins the District Attorney's office as an investigator. Through him, and the various lawyers, jury members and court officials we meet along the way, the show explores the intricate workings of the jury system. Written by
The following statement appears at the beginning of each episode: "In the criminal justice system, all defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Either by confession, plea bargain, or trial by jury. This is one of those trials." See more »
The original Law & Order was 50-50 a cop/lawyer show. SVU is 90% cops. This one is 90% lawyers. The biggest innovation is that we get to be a fly on the wall as the defense attorney plots his/her defense, which has absolutely nothing to do with truth or guilt. It's all playing the system. Tony Bill, in the premiere, calmly describes how he killed the victim and the attorney, Annabella Sciorra simply listens as if this is background information that might come up in the trial and have to be dealt with.
I'm a big Perry Mason fan, where the hero is obsessed with truth and guilt and all his clients are innocent, so this is quite a change. Mason represents what we'd like our justice system to be about. However Sciorra represents who we would want to hire if we committed a crime. She clearly sees her job as getting her clients off: that's what she's paid to do.
Frankly, I think the accused has a right to an aggressive defense that forces the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a shadow of doubt. But if the lawyer knows the client is guilty, responsibility should shift to dealing with extenuating circumstances that might lead to a self-defense or insanity plea or a reduced sentence. That might be better for the client than insisting on a not guilty verdict. And what must the feeling be for a lawyer who knows he/she got a guilty man off. If it's one of satisfaction, there is something wrong.
As to the show, it's promising. I'm hoping that not all defendants turn out to be guilty, (even though all of Perry's clients were innocent), as it kind of sends the wrong message. One of the things I liked about the original show is that they weren't always right and they didn't always win.
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