We all love Law & Order. And, whether we’ll all admit it or not, we’ve learned a lot.
When we worked at a firm that still required “blue backs” on documents in New York’s state courts, the only reason we had any idea what they were is because Jack McCoy always handed his papers to the judge with a blue sheet on the back.
Last night, The Paley centre for Media honored 20 years of Law & Order with a panel featuring creator Dick Wolf, executive producer Rene Balcer, Jack McCoy himself, Sam Waterston, and S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lt. Van Buren.
Though, disappointingly, they discussed mostly the television aspects of the show, rather than Jack McCoy’s brilliant legal career, there were some tidbits for the lawyers among us:
- Waterston said a female “high-powered Washington attorney” recently told him that she and her colleagues have a standing discussion of the legal issues in the show, substituting these conversations for analysis of actual, real life issues.
- Waterston is told all of the time by young lawyers that they went to law school because of him and the show.
- Waterston is thankful the show gets him scripts with plenty of time to prepare. He shuddered at the thought of getting a “summation” late at night that he had to deliver the next day. (All lawyers should be so prepared!)
- Merkerson served on a grand jury, and a lawyer kept looking at her when saying this was “real life,” not Law & Order.
- Merkerson also recalled an exchange she had when she was in litigation with people who did work on her apartment. The opposing counsel was a huge fan, and wanted to discuss all aspects of the show with her. She had to remind him he was suing her, and that she therefore had little interest in sitting down for a long chat.
An audience member asked how, considering the Justice Department’s announcement this week, the show might address the 9/11 trials being held in New York. Executive producer Balcer said that, just yesterday, the producers had discussed doing an episode where the six main characters testify about their participation in different aspects of 9/11 (one who helped rescue, one who had interviews suspects, etc). So they would not have direct participation in the federal prosecution, but would show how the event impacted the different areas of law enforcement.
He pointed out that, like the actual trials, that episode is probably years away.
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