I caught the preview episode on Sunday night of ABC’s new “In Justice,” which will be airing on Friday nights, starting this week. If you like court shows, it’s worth a look-see. The series focuses on the lawyers of the National Justice Project, a take-off on the real-life Innocence Project. Both the factual and fictional versions of this group revisit old criminal cases in an attempt to free prisoners who were, in their eyes, wrongly convicted.
The real-life Innocence Project, co-founded by Barry Scheck 0f O.J. Simpson Trial fame, focuses specifically on using DNA techniques that were unavailable when its cases were originally tried. The fictional National Justice Project employees on more general, and TV-generic, gumshoe detective techniques–which is another way of saying it relies on a heavy dose of faith in deciding which convicts’ stories to believe and how doggedly to pursue their case, even when the evidence continues pointing to their guilt. Their decision-making process–whom to believe? which stories grab a lawyer’s attention? how much of that is based on pure facts and how much on emotion or personal interest?–is a good reminder that there is always a large dose of the fallible human element in the justice system.
Bonus for those interested in pop-culture and religion: “In Justice” has an extraneous subplot in which two lawyers, already divorced, are seeking an annulment from the Catholic Church, but are told they must first undergo eight months of counseling. The story they concocted to get their annulment involved the husband falsely admitting to years of infidelity. Not sure where that’s going, but it ought to be fun to watch.