Our friend Alex Bunin, Houston public defender extraordinaire, recently posted a hilarious dissection of the latest courtroom t.v. series “all rise” (the lowercase title signifying resistance to capitalization privilege). The show features a slinky hot-cha judge who cares deeply about criminal defendants, and a number of what Alex calls “that-does-not-really-happen” moments.
Why is it that no courtroom drama from “Merchant of Venice” to Judge Judy shows what really happens? Here now is an unexpurgated picture of the really-happening moments in a typical New York courtroom.
9:30 Judge Suburbia’s courtroom. It’s empty except for her robe draped over the judge’s chair and a burly court officer in a bulletproof vest sitting at the prosecutor’s table reading the NY Post. Headline: Judge Frees Tot Slayer Perv.
9:40 Court officer turns the page.
9:45 Enter BEWILDERED MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC clutching a crumpled piece of paper.
Bewildered Member of the Public: Um, excuse me? (no answer) Excuse me? Sir? (Court officer finishes the Post, puts it on the judge’s bench) Am I in the right place?
Court Officer: You gotta ask downstairs. (Bewildered Member of the Public shuffles out)
10:00 Enter MORE COURT OFFICERS IN BULLETPROOF VESTS.
Court Officers: (to one another) Hiya huwa howa hubba hoba hubba! (etc.)
10:30 Enter SAVVY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WHO’VE BEEN COMING TO THIS SAME COURTROOM ON THEIR CASES FOR THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF.
Savvy Members of the Public: (filling up the benches) Murmur, murmur, murmur.
Court Officer: NO TALKING!
Savvy Members of the Public: Murmur, murmur, murmur.
Court Officer: NO TALKING NO CELL PHONES NO NEWSPAPERS!
11:00 Enter BEWILDERED MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC
Bewildered Member of the Public: They said this is where I’m supposed to go.
Court Officer: TAKE A SEAT AND NO TALKING!
11:15 Enter HARRIED DEFENSE LAWYER
Harried Defense Lawyer: (to Savvy Members of the Public) Mr. Rodriguez? Is Mr. Rodriguez here? (no answer. Harried Defense Lawyer leaves).
11:30 Enter GIRL PROSECUTORS IN IDENTICAL BLACK SUITS TOTING LARGE CARDBOARD BOXES OF FILES.
Girl Prosecutors: (to one another) Cheep cheep chirpy chirpy cheep (etc.)
11:35 Enter COURT REPORTER and CLERK
11:40 Enter JUDGE SUBURBIA in a tight red dress, holding a bunch of car keys in one hand and a large cup of takeout coffee in the other.
Clerk: All rise! (everybody stands).
Judge Suburbia: Be seated. (to CLERK) What have we got today, Joe?
Clerk: (handing her a file) It’s a 240.70 and an attempted 98.6. (Judge sits at the bench drinking coffee and reading the file)
12:30 Judge Suburbia: Are the parties present?
(Court officers in black leather gloves bring DEFENDANT out from the back to the defense table where HARRIED DEFENSE LAWYER is standing).
Judge Suburbia: Is there a disposition?
Girl Prosecutor: Your Honor, may we approach? (Girl Prosecutor and Harried Defense Lawyer go up to the bench and confer inaudibly).
Very Young Member of the Public: GGGGhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Court Officer: Take that baby outside!
12:50 Judge Suburbia: Okay, the People say they need more time to get the victim’s flu vaccination records. We’ll put this over to July 15th.
Prosecutor: I’m on trial that day.
Judge Suburbia: Very well, make it October 15th. My goodness, it’s nearly 1:00, we have to break for lunch. I won’t be here this afternoon. I’m the keynote speaker in the judicial conference on efficiency in the courts.
Clerk: All rise! (exit Judge Suburbia)
Bewildered Member of the Public: But —
Court Officer: Step outside, the courtroom is closed.