A throwback to our collective fascination with courtroom dramas, such as Law & Order, Perry Mason, and Matlock – the Fox TV legal series You the Jury is a new crime-reality show. Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, a former prosecutor, judge, and TV courtroom veteran, is the host of the show. Additionally, well-known attorneys such as Benjamin Crump and Jose Baez will star in the show.
Crump represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown. Jose Baez, who successfully defended the infamous Casey Anthony, will join Crump and Pirro. Anthony, with the help of Baez, was found not guilty of first-degree murder and the other most serious charges against her in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
When Fox premieres You the Jury, viewers will have the chance to perform as jurors and decide the verdict in civil cases. The show “will give the biggest jury pool in history—America—the power to decide the outcome of some of the most explosive, real-life, ripped-from-the-headline civil cases,” according to Fox.
The verdicts are final and binding. Litigants signed contracts which say so.
The Los Angeles Times reports viewers will have five minutes to vote from home via text or the Fox Now app to determine the outcome. To get around differences in time zone, votes in the Pacific time zone can change the cumulative total of votes and overturn the verdict.
Fox offered a synopsis of the show:
“[You The Jury] will address hot-button issues that define America today. Whether it’s online trolling and the limits of free speech; the constitutional clash of gay rights with religious freedom; or whether someone’s death was the result of a tragic accident or something far more sinister, You the Jury will investigate the law and the intense human stories behind it. In a dramatic twist, the closing arguments will be presented by the plaintiff and the defendant as they sit across from one another.”
It will be interesting to observe whether the demographics and political views of the current Fox viewership will have an effect on the verdicts. This will be an interesting study on impartiality.
Crump is widely known for his work on those infamous police shooting cases. Still, the show’s advertisements have been criticized for billing Crump as a “celebrity lawyer” since his clients gained notoriety as families of black children slain by law enforcement. Critics state these families are not “celebrities.” Rather, they are victims of tragedies that would undoubtedly trade any fame for having their loved ones back.
Crump’s decision to participate in the show brings to mind the “Fifty Million Merits” episode of the television series Black Mirror where the one righteous character in the system, (played by Daniel Kaluuya from the movie Get Out) is convinced to trade his virtuous fight against the powers that be for a lucrative career in front of the camera.
The first trial aired on April 7th. According to the Orlando Sentinel who reviewed the ratings, with just 1.6 million viewers, you didn’t care.