And Now Appearing as Professor Farnsworth...

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Apparently I've got it all backwards. Why turn legal practice into a sitcom when you can turn sitcoms into legal practice?

One of the first things you realize when you hold any kind of position at a law firm is that there's a whole hidden economy surrounding the legal practice made up of companies that do nothing but work for law firms. Document production services, process servers, court reporters, wordprocessors, and now this. Actors. Playing witness. In court. I imagine this type of thing gets screaming objections from the other side, likely followed by convoluted and inevitably ignored limiting instructions from the bench.

According to an article I read this morning, no appellate court has smacked down the practice, and there may not be grounds to. Deposition transcripts can be read in court by people other than the witnesses what gave them. The standard practice is to have a secretary or paralegal from the office read the transcript, which is usually a guaranteed way to put the jury to sleep. Having a trained actor do the reading is no doubt more exciting, but the dangers of prejudice or misleading the jury seem pretty severe. If the actor reads a line in a particular way, adds an inflection or facial expression that wasn't there originally, the jury starts to look beyond the words on the paper. A monotonous reading by an office admin is dull, but at least the jury can add their own ideas of what the witness may have sounded like without being clouded by the artificial, coached courtroom performance of an out-of-work actor.

Still, the idea is entertaining. My favorite part is the cast page. The choice of photographs screams, "Whether you need a hot girl, a fatherly doctor, or a glass-ceiling professional woman, we're here to meet your fake witness needs." At the very least they could farm themselves out for mock trial classes.

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That's just weird. And scary. A little too much life imitating art.

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on August 12, 2004 9:27 AM.

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