Source of article Legal Stage (Art of Communication).

By Katherine James


Once again Bull showed us that Good Television and real life are not the same thing. BUT once again, there were many fantastic nuggets of truth in this week’s highly entertaining episode. I am not going to give you all of them – but I am going to talk about the ones that I work with in my very real life as a trial consultant. Again, I will leave other trial consultants to talk about their areas of specialization as they relate to this episode. I’m also going to include a little Hollywood tidbit at the end … in case you are interested at all in “how it works” in the land of glitz and glitter.

I will, as I did last blog, distinguish fact from fantasy in what I discuss in this way. I shall label facts “FACTS” and fantasies “OOMPA LOOMPAS” because I got so much positive feedback to that comparison in my previous blog. Basically, I am alluding to the difference between how M&M’s are made (a factual process that may actually be able to be observed) and how the little chocolate candies were made in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. I will say again that I would much rather watch Gene Wilder right now than anyone in the Hershey’s Factory.

Dr. Bull was just the most brilliant of witness preparers again this week. As I said last time, these are the parts of each of the episodes to which I relate the most closely since that’s what I spend so much of my time doing. This week’s client/witness (OOMPA LOOMPA warning – a member of his team is an attorney and tried the case. Against his former girlfriend. Sexy sparks flew. Good Television!) was subject to panic attacks. I loved that he had her count out of order because “the mind doesn’t allow you to count out loud out of order and have a panic attack.” FACT: In real life I run into panicky witnesses all the time. I generally have them breathe slowly and deeply. I then work on getting them to put their faith and trust in their lawyers. I find a lot of people are just completely terrified and think they are alone. They are never alone. They always have their lawyer either guarding them against the enemy or right by their sides. Sometimes it just takes a little loving glue to make a bridge between that most important of relationships – lawyer and client. OOMPA LOOMPA: Of course, Dr. Bull never seems to work with an attorney in the room. I always do. I guess attorney client privilege is not Good Television. And during the trial when she started having a panic attack during cross she looked right at Dr. Bull who nodded at her, and they both had tears in their eyes? Bad courtroom practice in reality, but gosh that was Good Television.

This week’s case involves a criminal Pro Bono case. FACT: trial consultants, like attorneys, do Pro Bono cases. The American Society Of Trial Consultants has a Pro Bono Committee dedicated to this effort. I myself have at least one big Pro Bono client that I am working with at any given time (right now I am working with Public Counsel here in Los Angeles). I also work on cases when asked. My rule? If the attorney is doing the case Pro Bono then I’ll help when appropriate. OOMPA LOOMPA: no trial consultant I know goes and visits someone who is incarcerated and tells them that they can turn their case and life around single handedly. But it sure was fun to watch that adorable Michael Weatherly (Dr. Bull) do just that. So personable. Good Television!

Now, there is another aspect to the series that I understand because of my background. The “How A Show Is Put Together In Hollywood” aspect. So…Dr. Bull is The Star and is going to wear pretty much all of the hats and be the protagonist who wins the day. His crack team is going to carry bits and pieces, but he is where the money is being invested in this show and he is expected to carry it. Did you notice that when at the victory party it was announced that the real killer was the coach of the college team that the murder victim played on? How it was just brushed off? Okay. So. The kid who was on the stand playing the best friend of the murder victim was an actor who was hired for one day – appropriately enough he is known as “A Day Player”. The coach and the rest of the team, who were in the courtroom scene when he testified – oooo, you don’t remember them? That’s because they were all extras. They didn’t talk. They would never talk. They are just extras. They fill out the atmosphere of the scene. They are, in fact called “The Atmosphere.” FACT: You can’t have a big dramatic scene where the real culprit is arrested and confesses if that culprit is played by an extra because unless they do it with no words…he can’t talk. Actually, if he had been put in cuffs and walked out he’d get a bump in salary because that would be called “A FEATURED BIT”. But it was better for the show for it just to be a throw away line in the party. Spoken, of course by Dr. Bull.

Get how it works? Did you follow the money? You bet Steven Spielberg – one of this show’s executive producers – does.

I know I will keep watching. And reporting about the FACTS and OOMPA LOOMPAS as I see them in this highly entertaining look at the world of Trial Consulting in this blog. With a bit of Hollywood info thrown in for good measure. Happy viewing!