New Courtroom Drama

By Trent Hale*

The New York Times has recently put a new spin on the realm of “courtroom dramas.” In a new Op-Docs series entitled Verbatim, word-for-word courtroom transcripts are dramatized and brought to life again on video. In the first video of the series, “Photocopier,” a 2011 Ohio deposition serves as the script for a comedic exchange about the definition of a photocopy machine. Apart from the entertainment value of the video, the verbatim script allows for a glimpse into the proceedings, legal maneuvering and strategies, and the occasional humorous realities of the United States judicial system.

As pointed out by Miriam Rozen of Texas Lawyer, the legal world has before provided us with classic moments of drama and laughter. In particular, Rozen makes reference to the 1992 Texas deposition which has become known as “Hairpiece v. Fat Boy” after lawyers Joe Jamail and Edward Carstarphen resigned themselves to name-calling amidst the heat of the intense deposition. What we may be surprised to uncover, as the New York Times has, is that the drama of the legal process occurs just as much in the reality of the courtroom as it does on our TV screens as we watch our favorite primetime courtroom shows.

The New York Times aims to continue collecting legal transcripts that are sure to provide a surprisingly hilarious, strange, or curious insight into the inner workings of our nation’s halls of justice.

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