Which is Stranger, Fact or Fiction: “Harry’s Law”

by RICH CASSIDY on JANUARY 22, 2011

I took a break from writing a brief this evening and watched the pilot for a new television show, created by David E. Kelley, “Harry’s Law,” on NBC. Kathy Bates, as a depressed, broken-down, big-firm patent lawyer, who gets fired from her job and opens a storefront law firm in a poor neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio is, well, hilarious.

In this time of recession, the basic premise of the show is hardly unrealistic. But when the protagonist gets her first client by being struck by a person who falls — no actually jumps — from a six-story building, and her first associate — or is it partner — when later that same day he strikes her with his car, the argument that Life Imitates Art (June 25, 2010) gets a little thin.

Then her new law firm ends up being named “Harriet’s Law and Fine Shoes,” because her secretary is a shoe aficionado who insists they sell the left-over shoes from a previous tenant.

It seems like we are way outside the realm of reality. Still, in the Los Angles area there is “The Legal Grind,” a real law firm that sells “Coffee & Counsel®.”

In her first trial, Harriet pushes for jury nullification on behalf of a college-bound African-American youth who is admittedly guilty of possession of cocaine. She argues the jury should let him go rather than ruin his life by sending him to prison.

The jury finds him guilty, but the judge saves the day by sentencing him to two years in prison — all suspended — so that he can go to college.

All right, I admit it, the show is not realistic enough to take into account the impact of Ohio’s 983 statutory and regulatory collateral consequences that would very likely doom Harriet’s client anyway.

Still the show is a lot of fun. I guess I’ll have to try to tune in on Monday nights.

But remember, as Mark Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Rich

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