In Praise of Court TV

This —praising court TV —may sound strange coming from me.  I try to stay above the fray.  No Night Court for me!  I am a professional.

So you will understand why I am not truly proud of finding myself “glued to the tube” for the last two days watching a televised hearing in the Georgia case involving the allegations of election interference against former President Trump.  The hearing is, in my opinion, a great departure and distraction from the important issues involved in the case, nevertheless I recognize that it has value.  For law junkies like me, but, most important, for law students and entry-level lawyers.

I am a child of the law.  My interest in law started when I was a small child and my lawyer Dad took me to his office from time to time.  On some of those days, he and I would walk to the courthouse where I would sit on a bench in the hallway while my Dad met briefly with the judge or with the clerk of court to file a paper.  I had no idea what those papers were all about, but I loved just being in the historic courthouse with its high ceilings and huge portraits of men in black robes too high for me to see clearly but lending to the feel of serious business.

The rest is history.  I never gave up those early feelings of reverence that blossomed full into what I am today and have been for the last 45 years of my life.  A law junkie.  And that law junkie part of me has been on full view over the last few days.  Whether I like it or not.

Some people, including me, wish that cameras were allowed in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court.  That could be very instructive and provide the opportunity to see and hear some of the great legal minds of our times at work, both judges and litigants.  But it is not the best opportunity to view what is most important for young lawyers to know and to learn.

That distinction goes to the trial courts where cameras are allowed in many jurisdictions today.  That is where you learn how to address the judge, how to question a witness, how to respond to objections from opposing counsel, how to move documents into evidence, and how to make persuasive arguments pertaining to both the facts and the law. It is where you are not impressed by the stateliness of the surroundings and where those in the courtroom remind you of the common folks you see and hear every day.  Those are the courtrooms and the people of your future, at least for most of you.

So, tune in with me and watch what is going on in a trial court in Georgia.  And visit local trial courts in person.  Take a break from studying contracts or billing hours.  Sit in the back of the courtroom for awhile and take it all in.  Imagine yourself doing it.

Oops …  I have to go.  Court is back in session!

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