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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Community does L&O

I am a big fan of the show Community, which last week did a spot-on parody of Law & Order. Two highlights:

First, a legal note. The producers had to figure out how much of what they were doing constituted fair use and what they had to pay royalties for. Probably to avoid a fight, they paid to use the "chung-chung." Was that necessary?

Second, I wanted to flag a part of the courtroom scene. Annie, playing the attractive young brunette ADA, is cross-examining the "defendant" and nails the L&O meme in which the attorney, in the guise of asking a question, launches into an inappropriate (usually sanctionable, grounds-for-a-mistrial) speech, then says "withdrawn" when there is an objection, as if that makes it OK. Here, Annie didn't even bother waiting for an objection:

Is that why you hit your wife? Withdrawn! Is that why you smoke pot and pop pills? Withdrawn! Are you a virgin? Withdrawn!

Funny stuff.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 28, 2012 at 07:36 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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Love "Community" and love Alison Brie in both "Community" and "Mad Men." Those questions remind me of United States v. Leisure, 844 F.2d 1347 (8th Cir. 1988), in which the prosecution asked a defense witness, "Are you the same Pigface that [the defendant] had go in the Hobby Shop and buy some remote control devices for him?" Of course, there was no testimony at trial that anyone named “Pigface” had gone to a Hobby Shop or purchased a remote control device. Defense counsel objected, and the prosecution withdrew the question.

On the defendant's ensuing appeal, the State raised the argument that you might expect any number of lawyers on any number of TV shows to raise: The question wasn't prejudicial because the witness didn't answer it.

The Eighth Circuit disagreed, stating,

"We reject...the government's argument that the trial context of this question was less prejudicial because the witness did not answer it. There is no excuse for this type of rhetorical question, posed without foundation."

That said, the Eighth Circuit still found that the district court didn't abuse its discretion in denying the defendant's motion for a mistrial.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Apr 28, 2012 1:01:06 PM

Agreed--great episode. Plus a cameo by Omar Little takes us back the The Wire. There's got to be a way to use this episode in criminal procedure and evidence classes...

Posted by: Steven R. Morrison | Apr 28, 2012 9:44:03 AM

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