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[personal profile] tssandwich
Look, I understand the concept of dramatic license. But having just watched an episode of "The Good Wife," I've got to wonder who the hell is writing this crap. (Spoiler warning, but if this show continues like this, it'll be off the air by sweeps, anyway. Poor Julianna Margulies deserves better, as does Christine Baranski.)

- A million bucks for a soft tissue injury in a slip and fall? Please let me know what jurisdiction this is in, so I can move there and start a plaintiff's practice (And retire by 45). Given a positive EMG test and a good neurologist's report, we're talking $100k, tops. If she treated for a year, and if you paid a neurologist $10-15k to appear at trial. And if the insurance company's lawyer was too busy secretly subpoenaing personal info to hire a PI to follow this perfectly healthy looking woman around for a day. I have permanently disabled clients who aren't going to get anywhere near a million.

-Punitive damages? For "willful and wanton" conduct? Sure, but leaving a wire on the ground for 24 hours isn't willful or wanton-- I don't think it's even reckless, and the Supreme Court decided years ago that punitive damages can only be 10 times compensatory in any case. And a $20,000 insurance policy for a house is something out of the 1970s. And what's stopping these Hasidim from waving down a random gentile and getting them to move this light, non electric wire on Shabbat? (Actually, I suspect that a fallen eruv wire could probably be moved out of a path without violating Shabbat)

-A lawyer's bar number isn't something easily hidden. I write mine or my supervising partners' on the web or on paper about 20 times a day. If you know my real name, you can look it up at the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board's website, along with the bar number of everyone else, including the Governor, sitting judges, etc. Making up a bar number and practicing with it would probably work for about 6 weeks before you got caught. (A suspended or disbarred lawyer could probably get by for six months, but only if they were careful. A disbarred lawyer recently got his office locked by the PA Supreme Court for trying to continue to practice.) There's this thing called the Internet, see...

-Generally speaking, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of in the US, if not the common law world, you have to give the other side notice before you subpoena information. The likelihood of my surprising a witness with his or her cell phone bills at trial is approximately zero, presuming the witness has non-comatose counsel.

I'm not saying shows need to be as legally precise as Law and Order sometimes is. I'd settle for a Boston Legal (which got the law right and the ethics entirely wrong, but had the excuse of being a comedy). But yeesh. If anyone from the show actually reads this, I'll happily law-check their scripts for a flat low fee and closing title screen credit.

Date: 2009-11-11 07:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hopita.livejournal.com
I watched the show tonight.

As a non-legal person, I have to admit, all of that slipped right by me unnoticed. But now that you mention it, I can definitely see your point.

Date: 2009-11-11 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tssandwich.livejournal.com
It happens that a few weeks ago, I ran into a suspended lawyer who was still passing himself off as active and practicing (he was careful enough to not say or do anything that would compel me to call the state bar on him. Yet.), so it's fresh in my mind.

Date: 2009-11-11 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sconstant.livejournal.com
I didn't see the show, but thanks for the pointer to BMW v. Gore, which I had missed. I don't think it draws a bright line rule about 10x, but certainly limits things, and the breakdown between justices was wacky. Strange that SCOTUS has kept making law in areas outside my practice since I finished law school.

Date: 2009-11-11 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tssandwich.livejournal.com
There's actually another case after BMW v. Gore that mentions the 10x multiplier again. I think it's still a guideline, rather than actual policy, but the SCOTUS hasn't upheld any punis that are higher since, AFAIK.

Date: 2009-11-11 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] creidylad.livejournal.com
I'm kind of excited to hear that Law & Order is in the "legally precise" category.

Date: 2009-11-11 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tssandwich.livejournal.com
I haven't watched it much in recent years, and I'm mostly talking about the original show, but L&O actually has a couple of lawyers on staff to get the law right. They speed things up, which you have to do in a TV show (motions that would sit on a judge's desk for weeks get decided the next day), but the substantive law is correct, down to the case names they cite.

Date: 2009-11-11 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] creidylad.livejournal.com
The thing I find amusing is the idea that a single (well, evolving out of time) set of lawyers would be responsible for so much freaking new case law.


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