I did get to watch half of the premiere of Shark the other night too. I missed maybe the first 20-30 minutes.

I had seen a commercial for Shark a few weeks ago, and, basically, here's the premise:
Sebastian Stark reevaluates his life after a wife beater he once defended finally ends up killing her. To atone, he takes a job with the high-profile crime unit of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Before I even saw the show, I had a problem with the premise. I just don't think that defense attorneys think this way. If a guilty client goes free, I don't feel bad - I think that's the way the system works, and the police and prosecutors should have done their job. Our system is imperfect - innocent people go to prison, guilty people go free. I think defense attorneys (especially one described as "a notorious defense attorney," leading me to believe he's been around the block a few times) know this.

Sure, it would be disturbing to know that the person you represented later killed someone. But I don't think defense attorneys are responsible for every later act of their clients. If I represent a completely innocent person and after his acquittal he goes out and kills someone, either accidentally or purposely - am I somehow responsible for that death? No. Likewise, it's not my Nobel Prize if he wins one either. I only deal with the crime charged, the single accusation - not my client's whole life - good or bad.

So, a defense attorney's client kills someone and the defense attorney "reevaluates" and "atones." Do you think that when my clients go on to do something good with their lives, the prosecutors ever "reevaluate" and "atone?"

Fine. Let's concede that it's just a premise. Then he goes to the DA's office (to atone) and has to try a pop-star accused of murder within 48 hours. He has a staff of little underlings (ala House) who run around doing his work (and being his conscience- ala House).

Part of this trial prep occurs in his home, where he's built a perfect replica of a courtroom - complete with jury feedback, video screens, and anything else you can imagine in your dream Barbie courtroom. That's kind of cool.

Despite all this prep, when the time comes, this "notorious" defense attorney, tells his little prodigy to sit down and, instead, decides not to cross-examine the pop-star accused of murder because she reminds him too much of his daughter.

(Can you imagine a real murder trial where a defendant testified and the prosecutor didn't cross-examine?)

Later, though, he reconsiders and decides to cross-examine her. And, is somehow allowed to.

Here, Shark falls into the trap mentioned in the comments of the previous post - rather than elicit evidence through testimony, the attorney just gets up and testifies.

To paraphrase, "Why is it then, that the LAPD crime lab says with 99% accuracy that the video found in that camera matches the camera you used to make your first music video?"

Umm, did they? Did you reopen the prosecution case to elicit that testimony that you just discovered that morning? Or does the fact that you are saying it make it true? Objection!

But don't worry about that. The defense attorney doesn't object, and, the next thing we know, the little pop-star is confessing and crying on the stand, "I didn't mean to kill him..."

And all the defense attorney can say is "Can we have a recess?" - The surest sign that the case has just been lost.

It's ok. Legal shows don't have to be perfectly realistic. In fact, if they were, they probably wouldn't be worth watching. (Although, I always worry that jurors that watch too much TV are thinking, "Why can't she just get up there and say 'Isn't it true...' and tell us what happened? Why is she doing this whole slow process of asking questions? Is she stupid or something?")

Then there was a whole secondary plot about his wife and his daughter, none of which I cared much about, but I'm sure it was there either because (1) this is the premiere, so they're setting up the characters or (2) people like my mother like that sort of thing.

Overall, though, I think Shark was far better than Injustice, and I may end up watching another episode. If you're interested in seeing the Series Premiere, it seems like you might be able to watch it on the CBS website by following that link.

And, finally, call me blonde, but I didn't get why the show is called Shark when his name is Stark. Maybe it's because there are a lot of lawyer jokes out there about Sharks, or this guy is a "shark in the courtroom" - but then why does his name have to be Stark, which is just so close to Shark?

I kept thinking throughout the episode, "Am I hearing them wrong? Did they just say Stark or Shark? What's his name again? What's the name of this show again?" And then I was thinking "Maybe it's like the Cosby show, where there was nobody on the show named Cosby, since they were the Huxtables, and it was named for one of the actors..." and trying to figure out the names of all the actors.

Why distract me like that (I got it! James Woods! Wait, that doesn't make sense...)? It's not based on a real person, the writers could pick whatever name they wanted, so why not just name him Shark (look at House, they named the main character House) or call the show Stark?


  1. I loved reading your thoughts on this! I've never heard of this show, but it sounds interesting.

    And I would totally buy a Barbie Dream Courtroom..what should we do to try to get one on the market?

  2. My husband and I have an agreement about watching those shows now - we don't do it. Apparently law school has made me annoying to watch lawyer shows with - who knew?

    So I may never see an episode of Shark. Sad.

  3. Hey BJ,

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  4. I think it's a couple episodes down the road, but they do eventually explain that when Stark was a defense attorney his nickname was Shark (because of the similarity? Because the writers are dumb? Your guess is as good as mine.) and that he hates his nickname now because it reminds him too much of "the bad old days."

    What I hate about this show is how they portray private defense attorneys as these gods who almost always win (same problem I have with Justice) and when they lose it's because their clients are *gasp* lying to them. So they bring in this fancy defense attorney who has funds and the dream courtroom to "turn around" the prosecutor's office. Please.

  5. My favorite law show is Boston Legal. Not because it is accurate--in fact, the opposite. Because it is so out there it is hilarious. Sometimes I think that some producers have this sense that their shows should be realistic, but then they also realize that non-lawyers might find law boring (and maybe some lawyers too). It is then when the first case handed to Shark is a murder case of a celebrity and whatnot.

    Now Barbie Dream Courtroom--that is genious. A whole line of not houses, but workplaces for Barbie to go--i.e. Barbie Dream Hospital; Barbie Dream High-rise office complex; Barbie Dream Daycare to drop off the little ones before work. Perhaps that is just the thing to get Barbie back into the mainstream. You'd better patent that courthouse before Mattel reads this blog!

  6. I want to remember James Woods as the pot-smoking attorney, Eddie Dodd, in True Believer....

    I always wanted to smoke a joint in my office like he did....

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  8. 'Do you think that when my clients go on to do something good with their lives, the prosecutors ever "reevaluate" and "atone?"'

    Most prosecutors won't admit wrongdoing even when it's proven that they sent an innocent person to prison for a couple of decades.

  9. Can't past the visual of Hades every time Woods opens his mouth.

    Had a hard time with a prosecution for ordering too many clothes on too short a deadline as well.

    Switched channels 20 minutes in.

  10. The only thing worse than watching "reality" law shows is when in "real life," (whatever that is anymore), a third-party organization like The Innocence Project, is able to get a prisoner's dna retested, the retest exonerates the prisoner after decades in prison, and then the AG/DA contests the prisoner's release.

    I think justice would be better served when the AG/DA was given the privilege of serving an equal amount of time. Especially in cases where they, or law enforcement, were found to have withheld evidence or some such nefarious behavior.

    Ah hell while I'm at it: Why is it that police officers/DA types regularly admit that when talking with someone they assume the perrson is lying, but juries regularly just assume the PO/DA types are telling the truth? The Supreme Court has said it is acceptable for them to lie to people and they regularly do. Isn't is a great country? Every thing is so regular.

    Beware GESTAPO 911.

    Have a nice day.

  11. I completely feel your pain. I am not in a law profession, but I work in a lab. When I watch crime dramas (CSI, Law and Order, etc), I always scream at the TV. Nothing in a lab works that fast, especially government funded labs, and some of the stuff they claim is practically impossible. Sucks the joy right out of those shows. Oh btw, just a lurker of a soon-to-be lawyer.


  12. lurker "friend" of a soon to be lawyer, I just love typos.

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