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Phillip Turner

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6 Ways That On-Screen Court and Real-life Court Are Very Different

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There is no shortage of truly entertaining legal shows on TV. Filled with drama, danger, and mystery, shows like Judge Judy, People’s Court, Divorce Court, and Judge Joe Brown are popular daytime television programs.

But how accurate are they? Are they true to the happenings of legal cases in a real court room? Let’s find out! Here are 6 ways that on-screen court and real-life court differ.

  1. Confessions

When it comes to confessions, TV programs generally have the guilty admitting to their charge in open court. In real life, self-incriminating evidence is often not admissible in the courtroom.

Sometimes, this evidence is allowed after the proceeding of certain procedures. But even these procedures are not allowed to take place in the same court session.

  1. Instantaneous justice

In true TV fashion and for dramatic effect, judges usually deliver their verdict within a few minutes and alongside a grand speech. Real life justice, however, can be a long process.

Most of the time, both sides are heard and then the case enters a waiting period, where all parties involved await the judge’s verdict. This verdict may be given within a week, a month, or a year (or longer). The process is extensive and drawn out.

  1. Gavels

Every good TV court proceeding features at least one hit of the judge’s gavel. Whether it be to stop a heated argument or to officially end the session, you can rest assured that the gavel will drop.

In actuality, though, judges rarely ever use the gavel. Yes, they have it and yes they can use it- but more often than not, they don’t.

  1. Last minute evidence.

Many on-screen court cases include a healthy dose of last minute, fate-sealing evidence. You know the type- the document that the lawyer whips out of his pocket, the perfectly preserved fingerprint, etc etc.

Although this makes for a great show, it isn’t realistic. Most of the time evidence in real court proceedings is document beforehand and there are very few evident surprises, making this popular depiction nothing more than added drama for entertainment purposes.

  1. Napping

An episode of Judge Judy would be nothing more than a joke if one of the many people attending took an impromptu nap while the jury deliberated. Despite this, napping does happen in the real world.

This is mostly because of the length of any given court session; some sessions last upwards of 7 straight hours! They are also generally quite dry and filled with a lot more sleep-inducing silence than they are intense arguments.

  1. Attendance

In every episode of Law & Order, the courtroom is packed. In real court, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Most of the time, court rooms are relatively empty save for those who need to be there to testify, the judge, and the support people of both parties. Sometimes, there will be a handful of people, but generally the attendance rates are low.


How to pick the right lawyer

Finding the right lawyer is the most important step you can take toward winning a legal case and this does not have to be a hard task. Make sure to take time with the research. Try and find a lawyer that has had experience with your specific issue before and that you will get on with personally. If you take the time to find the right lawyer, it will be worth it as they may be more likely to help you win your case.

Decide what type of lawyer you need           

It is important to find a lawyer who has specialised expertise in the area that your case involves. It would be a good idea to find a lawyer that is familiar with the laws and courts of the area in which you are located. This will help your lawyer represent your interests to the best of their abilities with your case. There are many practice areas, such as bankruptcy law, criminal law, family law, employment law etc.

Review listings of Lawyers online                        

There are lots of websites online that offer free reviews of different lawyers and their businesses. There are also websites that specifically focus on helping low-income families or individuals on finding the right lawyer. Make sure to visit different sites to cross-reference reviews as this will help you with any sort of bias reviews that you may find.

Recommended lawyers from friends or family                                                         

Talk to your friends or family that have used a lawyer to find out who they hired, for what type of case and if they were pleased with the outcome. This will help with your decision making if they can recommend the lawyer or not.

Make a list

Draw up a list of potential lawyers that you have researched in your area. Include the lawyers name and address, the phone number and also the web address. This way you will be organised with your search going forward.

Review websites

  • Review every lawyer’s website to find out information on what type of law; he or she practices.
  • Check what sort of background information you can find on the lawyer, such what law school and the areas they specialise in.
  • Research some general information about the type of case you need help with.
  • Most lawyers that have websites should provide information on each lawyer that is working for the business. Check out each one of their work history and educational background.
  • Try and look for a lawyer that has at least two to five years of experience practising the type of law that you are looking for help with. Usually you should find a lawyer that is currently practising in your type of case.
  • Lots of lawyers are now on social media such as face book etc. Check out their profi

Arrange an appointment

Make an appointment with the lawyers you have chosen from your list of research. Most lawyers do not charge for consultation appointments. If so they may charge a small fee but make sure for certain if you are going to be charged or not. Do your research beforehand. Also if you do not live in the same area as the lawyer, you may be able to organise a phone conversation instead of a personal meeting. You will probably want your lawyer to appear with you for your court appearance, so it’s probably best to find a local one in your area who will represent you.

Hope this will help with your research on finding the right lawyer for you and your case. Remember, researching and gathering lots of information is the key to do this.


The benefits of watching legal stories

If you are looking to stock up on shows that will give you the opportunity to enjoy a nice mix of fact and fiction, legal stories are the way to go. With shows like Law and Order having some of the longest runs of any similar show in television history, there are plenty to choose between and plenty of reasons that people enjoy legal stories. To make sure that you are able to make the most out of these legal stories, read on in order to learn all about these benefits.

#1: You get to learn about court procedure

One of the biggest benefits of these television shows is that they are great at providing an insight into real life. Court procedure is something that affects everybody in some form or another and will give you an opportunity to understand the highly exciting world of the judicial system. There are a lot of television shows that focus on court procedure, so make sure that you do your due diligence in this regard.

#2: This is one of the best ways to build drama in a series

When it comes to legal stories, there are a lots of opportunities out there to enjoy the shows. They are so enjoyable first and foremost because it is one of the natural and most incredible ways to build drama. By knowing that a crime has taken place, a person has been arrested and arraigned on charges, there are plenty of opportunities for twists and turns and you will not know the outcome until the very end. This leaves plenty of room to build drama whenever you are deciding to tune in for an hour-long episode

#3: Legal stories provide an unparalleled high stakes thrill ride

You also need to understand that these shows are excellent because the stakes are some of the highest that you will see in any show. You know the stakes going into it and this lets you identify with the characters in order to immediately begin compiling your own evidence and figure out whether you think the person committed the crime or not. These are stories that have insanely high-stakes built-in and it will allow you to to watch intently, in order to enjoy everything that comes with the the ride.

photo of the word legal

So if you are looking to figure out which legal stories will be entertaining to you, do a quick web search to see which court room shows are currently on the air. Doing this will provide you the opportunity to enjoy television and Will make sure that you are deciding on which shows are as entertaining to US you would like. Research the shows to the best of your ability and make sure that you look up their ratings by searching the web. These shows have incredible fan bases and you will be able to get a taste of the show in order to figure out if it is what you are looking for.


Check out my About page if you’d like to get to know more about me. 🙂

Blog Law Stories

It seems nothing is Exempt from Court Action – Even Landscaping!

You know, it seems that nothing is exempt from court action these days. I thought I had seen it all in court rooms, but I never considered that I might read about a case involving landscaping. Perhaps the following case has a lesson for us all, in relation to having friends doing tasks for us that maybe should be done by professionals.


This case happened in London, England, where a couple received a quote from a reputable landscaping firm, for works to be carried out on their gardens. The price they received was not agreeable to them, so they instead asked their friend, whom they thought had a landscaping background, to do the work, at a much reduced cost.

Now, rather than following through and getting a residential landscaping henderson firm as one might in the LV area, they instead got their friend in to start the work. This is when the problems began.

No Contract:

No contract or formal agreement had been drawn up in relation to the works. The friend organised other friends of his to come in and help in getting the work done. But ultimately, they ended up pretty much destroying the couple’s garden. The judge presiding over the case ruled that the friend, who was an architect, had a duty of care, while he counter argued that he was merely a friend, who happened to have a professional background.

men in suits


In the end, the couple still ended up having to hire the very same professional firm they got the original quote from, in order to right the damage done to their garden, at much greater cost than the original quote. The judge recommended that mediation take place between the parties, so a suitable outcome could be arrived at.


Starting off your career as a lawyer

I’d just like to give prospective legal wannabes an idea of what a lawyer is and where they go to work. If you’re hoping to enter this wonderful world of legalities, I have put together some basic “need-to-knows” below:

  • What is a lawyer?
  • Where do they work?
  • Salary and more career information

What is a lawyer?

Hollywood has given us a warped view of what lawyers do and how they behave. There is a lot of exaggeration in many portrayals of lawyers as slick, wealthy professionals. In most cases, the more well-known firms’ lawyers do in fact make very good money. But most lawyers put in an awful lot of time and energy to earn the big dollars.

The District Attorneys (DA), like we see on Television, do prosecute defendants accused of committing heinous crimes. But on the other hand, some lawyers never see the walls of a courtroom or indeed speak a single word before a judge. These lawyers sit behind desks with tonnes of paperwork, doing research or drafting up contracts.

At the most basic level, lawyers advise and represent businesses, individuals and/or government agencies in criminal and/or civil legal affairs.

lawyer career

Where do lawyers work?

Lawyers can work for big firms or small practices in a private manner, or they can work for the government as public servants.

Lawyers may find jobs as district attorneys or as defenders to a member of the public. They could also work for the federal government.

Private sector work attracts many lawyers to the big firms, where they will usually specialise in a specific area such as tax, divorce, environmental law or data protection. I’m not sure which is the most attractive to me, what do you think?

Salary and more information

  • In America, the average lawyer’s salary is approximately $115,000 per annum.
  • Lawyers can expect to work long hours in the office beyond the typical “9 to 5”.

The Freedom of Speech; Cyberbullying!

The dawn of the digital age, brings a voice to anyone with an internet connection. People can voice their views upon the ears and eyes of the world. I think, with this dawn and the levelling of the playing field brings many positives along with some negatives. Take cyber bullying for example and freedom of expression.

 cyberbullying image

Dealing with students freedom of speech

For example, although Texan laws ban cyberbullying, students’ First Amendment rights actually limit how schools react in terms of disciplining students for speech that may be posted on the internet and away from campus.

The free-speech protections for students were faced with a major challenge in the 1960s. The principal of a school in Des Moines, Iowa, took the decision to suspend a students for wearing black armbands in protest to the war in Vietnam. Although the school district had claimed that this was a disruptive act, the US Supreme Court actually sided with the students: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

It was ruled by the court that in justifying the censorship of student speech, the school administration would need to prove that the speech would somehow “substantially and materially” interfere with the school’s operations.

Ever since, federal courts have reverted to this standard when attempting to deal with student speech which happens off campus, even while trying to deal with what one could consider as cyberbullying.

So I ask, what does this mean now in this digital age?

Notable case 1

J.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified School District (2009). J.C. was 13 years old and a student in California. The student went with some friends to a restaurant off-campus. J.C. video recorded them using profanities to ridicule some other student there, C.C. Using the computer at home, J.C. uploaded this to the internet as a Youtube video and let other students know, including C.C., who naturally became very upset about it and subsequently reported it to their school.

School administrators decided to suspended J.C. although there wasn’t any evidence that any student saw the video on school property. The school district took the argument that they had to deal with an upset parent and that student along with five other students missing classes due to the investigation.

Who won the case? STUDENT. The district court took sides with J.C., ruling that the aforementioned things didn’t justify enough, any meaningful disruption at the school.

Notable case 2

Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools (2011). Kara Kowalski was a senior at a high school in South Carolina. She used her own computer to set up her MySpace page, S.A.S.H.. This acronym stood for Students Against Shay’s Herpes. Kara then invited other students to join this group, which made fun of a fellow student. One student did join this group while on a school computer. Shay’s parents and Shay decided to complain to the school officials. After which, she decided to leave school due to feeling uncomfortable. Officials did punish Kara due to establishing the “hate website.” Although Kara later attempted to sue.

Who won? SCHOOL.


I think there is a fine line between where cyberbullying starts and finishes. It’s difficult to quantify and the fact that social media is so prevalent now it makes it very difficult to police, especially from a school’s perspective. I think new legal frameworks should be worked on to deal with the potential of future cyber bullying cases.


Top 5 famous trials

So what makes a good trial? Well, it depends on who’s side your’e looking at the trial from!

Through the eyes of the plaintiff or the defendant?

But there’s a third perspective. We the public, the viewers, the observers. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the most famous court trials in history over the past two decades. These are the trials that had the most media coverage and controversy surrounding the trials from a public view point. I’m not sure which one I am fascinated with most.

oj simpson photo

Top 5 famous trials (in my opinion)

  1. J. Simpson. June 1994 – October 1995

This trial really did set the benchmark for 24/7 coverage in the media and was this case which raised the profile of one TV network to the household name it is today — truth.

The case had an array of characters across the spectrum from good to evil, from the likes of Johnnie Cochran, the leading lawyer in the defence and acquittal of O.J., Judge Lance Ito presiding over the case while on the bench, to Kato Kaelin the media personality who gained fame as a witness during the trial, to Mark Fuhrman the detective on the investigation of the murder case.

Even today, O.J. Simpson’s case is still regarded as the de facto in sensational court cases across the world. What was crazy about this case was the fact the whole country including me gasped in shock on that faithful day in October 1995? The jury returned a “not guilty”!

To date, which other court trial can safely say it had the nation on the edge of their seat?

  1. Martha Stewart. June 2003 – July 2004

ImClone Systems. Martha Stewart. Guilty. Inside trading of its stock. With Martha’s pristine image, television shows and newspapers fell over themselves to get a shot at covering her as she fell from her gracious living. Who would have ever thought that America’s glitzy hostess, who had built her media empire from fine dining, design and decor, would end up in the prison doldrums? In July 2004, the verdict was returned. Five months in the slammer for Stewart!

  1. 3, Michael Jackson. November 2003 – June 2005

Beyond Michael Jackson’s musical talent and work ethic, his life’s legacy will be forever tarnished by one sick and perverted storyline. The King of Pop’s first allegations of the molestation of children against him were introduced in 1993, although the charges did fall apart under careful scrutiny. Fast forward ten years on and the iconic Martin Bashir documentary brought enough questionable content to the surface that Jacko was arrested that November 2003. He was then indicted on seven different counts of child molestation among related charges. News channels followed it as it was such a hot topic for a music star of this stature. However, in less than two years from then, Michael Jackson was acquitted on all of the charges brought against him.

  1. Timothy McVeigh. August 1995 – June 1997

Arguably America’s most notorious domestic terrorist, Timothy McVeigh orchestrated, along with Terry Nichols, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma, which famously become know as the Oklahoma bombings. This resulted in the killing of 168 people that faithful day in April 1995. Without a doubt, until the 9/11 attacks in 2001, this was the deadliest act of terror on American turf.

  1. Rod Blagojevich. December 2008 – June 2011

The former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich soon found out the good old fashioned way that the under the counter deals in politics that worked in the past simply won’t be a runner anymore. In June of 2011, Blagojevich was found guilty of a total of 17 charges on corruption, including the soliciting of bribes to fill Obama’s seat in the Senate.


I think these trials all have one thing in common. Ans that is, they were all game changers in their respective social circles, from music greats to media moguls, from politicians to American football stars. We gained interest in these trials as they engaged us and showed us that even the people we view as the pillars of society are merely only other human beings like the rest of us. They simply made bad decisions and paid the price.

A friend of mine has also voiced his opinion lately about this issue as well. His favourite celebrity trial was undoubtedly the OJ Simpson case, where he firmly believes that OJ was 100% guilty. The only reason he got away was on a technicality.

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Courtroom Dramas Are Becoming A Thing Of The Past

Courtroom dramas are always fun to watch because they give you the meat of what is going on without all of the boring details. Switching from detective work to the courtroom scene, you get to see the prosecutors grill defendants and witnesses on the stand like they just ate their Wheaties aren’t aren’t taking no for an answer. While real life courtroom drama may not play out the same exact way, there are of course some similarities.

If you have ever watched real criminal courtroom proceedings on television, the lawyers are a bit tedious. They go over every fine detail. While they do grill people on the stand, it isn’t in hero formation. It is more like watching an accountant crunch numbers, very boring. But watching a fictional courtroom drama on television is anything but boring.

One of my favorite courtroom TV dramas was Matlock. The man was a superstar every time he entered the courtroom. The show made it out to be like what he was doing saved the day every time. Not every case, every dramatic event or every turning point in life is going to feature the same hero. As a matter of fact, being a hero has nothing to do with being able to pull of something like that. That is why it is fiction, courtroom drama on television, sensationalizing the way we think about attorneys and courtroom proceedings.

photo of courtroom hammer

Then you have Law and Order, LA Law and more. After the Law and Order spinoffs, we have seen a shortage of these kinds of shows. It makes you wonder if anything like it is coming back around. You know that people are tired of courtroom dramas. They have made some of the best movie scenes, too.

Do you still watch these courtroom drama television shows? If so, then you might have noticed that Law and Order SVU is still running; however, it has received a significant facelift to stay up with the times. Law and Order SVU used to be one of my favorite TV shows. Times change and people change. I do catch a new episode from time to time, but when it comes to courtroom dramas, I guess for the most part, it is time for something new.

We can still watch our favorite shows and catch the new SVU, but courtroom dramas need another big hit for representation. Do you think there will be another hit show coming along anytime soon? We will have to wait and see because so far, the listings are scrambled with shows that just don’t look much like what people used to watch.

Times are changing, but courtroom drama in real life is always out there. If they can reinvent it again to keep people’s attention, I suppose that will happen. One thing for sure there is the courtroom dramas the way we always knew them are now in the books folks. So reminisce and watch your reruns, but it is time to move forward and see what comes out next.

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Shows from the archives

September 2011 – Our director for the children’s theatre production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever had to drop the project. Therefore, we currently have no children’s theatre planned. We are looking for someone to step up to direct a show for our children’s theatre production. Come to our meeting this Sunday, September 11 at the Story City Mall in our costume shop space and propose a show!

photo of judge story group

Judge Story Theatrical Troupe – Board Meeting

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Story City Outlet Mall

Attending: Lars Skaar – President, LeRoy Kester – Secretary, Linda Narigon – Secretary. Board Members: Julie Ferrell, Rhonda Hampton, Carol Reed. JSTT members: Veronica Skaar, Marian Olive, Walt Hermanson, Todd Reed, Lynnay Hites, Danny Ellis

Secretary Report

Last Regular meeting was held on April 10, 2011 at the Outlet Mall. A special meeting was held at Viking Hall on May 30, 2011. Meeting minutes were read for both meetings and approved.

Treasurer’s Report

Accounts are at around $4,488 less program and ticket printing bill of $1,258 = about $3,230.

Still receiving invoices and receipts from little women. Outstanding fees include: Creative Apparel, programs, sound system, makeup, dry cleaning, misc props and set items, other misc items to be turned in yet. Will be getting security deposit back from scripts.

Old Business

1. Discussed donation to Charleston Building. A motion was made to make a donation in the amount of $1,000. Discussion included the need for and proposed use of the building, can we afford this and is this something the theater troupe should support.

The building will house the GCC that presently pays rent. The GCC will rent out the apartments above to help sustain itself. It was determined we have the funds to afford this donation at this time and that an active downtown district and community is vital to the theater troupe’s future success. Motion passed (with zero nays and one abstained vote).

2.Little Women: The show went GREAT.

New Business

1. 2012 Show: How to Succeed in Business without Trying (H2$).

a. Prior tentative approval for rights expired. Reapplying for rights.

b. Cast of 40 to 50

2. Fall Children’s Theatre Proposal. Todd Reed submitted a proposal for “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson.

a. Discussed cast and crew.

b. Proposed Policy and Procedures form for Parents and Actors

c. Schedule – will coordinate with school schedule. Auditions around mid September with Rehearsals beginning in mid October. Shows around first week of December. Venue?

d. Motion made to accept proposal. Motion passed.

3. March Show Proposal. Rhonda Todd noted “Arsenic and Old Lace or “Harvey” as possibilities.

4. Carl Hermanson is purchasing one dozen music stands for the Troupe.

5. Additional General Discussion:

a. Paul Weirson Barn Cleanout. Sometime this summer. Food, Water, Pop, Juices to be donated. Linda will discuss date with Paul Weirson.

b. Letter to Editor about Theater Troupe to educate community of its history and function. Discussed possible people to write letter.

c. Possible future donation concert for fundraiser?

d. Consider raising ticket costs for future shows.

e. Consider reserved seating tickets for Children’s Theater. Many young and elderly waited in a long line in very cold weather last winter and some were turned away at the door due to sold out shows.

6. Adjourned

Next meeting on July, 10th at 5:00 PM at the Outlet Mall (enter on the East side).

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda Narigon – JSTT Secretary


Judge Story Theatrical Troupe– Board Meeting

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Story City Outlet Mall

Attending: Lars Skaar – President, Cathy Hermanson – Vice-President, Linda Narigon -Secretary. Board Members: Julie Ferrell, Rhonda Hampton, Carol Reed. JSTT members: Veronica Skaar

Secretary Report

Last Regular meeting was held on June 12, 2011 at the Outlet Mall. A correction was made to the meeting minutes – in New Business, Item 3, Todd Reed recommended the March shows. Revised minutes were approved.


(This was not discussed at the meeting)

Since the last meeting, final bills were paid for Little Women, the last CD matured and was cashed in, and mall rental fees were paid for the year. As of the end of August 2011, there was $6,323.18 in savings and $2,406.72 in checking.

Old Business

1.Little Women: The show went GREAT.

New Business

1.Fall Children’s Theatre: No new proposals. No volunteer(s) for directing. No Children’s Theater show this fall.

2. Iowa Community Theater Association Grant Application discussion. $500 grant opportunity. We need a volunteer to facilitate this. No action taken.

3. Possible Barn Clean-up. Discussed dates. October 2nd selected. Linda will contact Paul – tentatively 2:00 to 6:00 and will send e-mail to group. Food and Drinks are being donated.

4. Web site updates. Lars has been updating the website this summer. Check it out!

5.2012 Show: How to Succeed in Business without Trying (H2$).

a. We are looking for an “Executive Desk” to use in the production. Possibly one with a marble inlay or a glass top.

6.2013 Scandi Days Musical  Proposals or Ideas? Cathy suggests Joseph for what will be the Theater’s 100th anniversary. Cathy will prepare a proposal to submit to the Troupe.

7.2012 March Show Proposal or Ideas. Todd Reed had ideas of “Arsenic and Old Lace” or “Harvey” at the June meeting. Discussed possibility of hors d’oeuvres or dinner theater. We need a volunteer director and an official proposal to the troupe.

8. Additional General Discussion:

a. Walt Hermanson is in the Actor’s show “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten”. Performances: September 23, 24, 30, October 1, 7, 8 at 7:30 PM; October 2, 9 at 2:00 PM. $15 tickets. Gallery 319, 310 Main Street, Ames,(515) 232-2354. Tickets available at the door subject to availability.

b. Julie Ferrell is in Iowa State’s production of “A Christmas Carol” in which she plays Mrs. Cratchit. December 2, 3, 9, and 10 at 7:30 p.m.; December 4 at 1p.m. and December 11 at 2 p.m. at Fisher Theater – Ames. Adults $16, students $8. Single tickets are now available through the Stephens Box Office in Ames or any TicketMaster.

9. Adjourned.

Next meeting on October, 9th at 5:00 PM at the Outlet Mall (enter on the East side).

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda Narigon – JSTT Secretary