Just in time for tonight's series premiere of Shark, CBS's new lawyer drama starring James Woods as a "charismatic, supremely self-confident defense attorney who, after a shocking outcome in one of his cases and a personal epiphany, brings his cutthroat tactics to the prosecutor's office," THR, ESQ invites an actual veteran of the L.A. district attorney's office to review how faithfully the show depicts the practice of the law:
The Hollywood Reporter, ESQ.: When lecturing the other lawyers on strategy, Shark mentions two case names. Are they real cases? John Stillman: One is referred to simply as "Kendall," which he says applies to the admissibility of a witness' sexual history. There's no such case. I think they just made up the case names. The other case he mentions is called "State of Ohio v. Pavey" on the admissibility of information obtained from equipment designed to determine whether two videos came from the same video camera. Not a real case.
THR, ESQ.: Was the law correctly stated?
Stillman: The law is that equipment such as lie detectors are not usable because they're not reliable. But there are cases that say DNA is reliable, so they use it. The issue is whether one can show the reliability of the equipment to the satisfaction of the judge. The whole way Shark wins the case is by showing that (the accused's) camera matches the camera that was used to film an earlier video. [...]
THR, ESQ.: Shark has a full mock courtroom in his house. Have you ever heard of this?
Stillman: Of course not. I've talked to other people and nobody has ever heard of one in a house. On the other hand, this guy is so outlandish, it might make sense.
While the requirements of the dramatic form sometimes lead producers to take liberties with the realities of the professions they seek to portray, Shark's should be commended for thoroughly researching, and then rejecting as false, Woods' constant, dubious claims that all Los Angeles D.A. offices are staffed entirely by nymphomaniac 20-year-olds with acute daddy issues. They did, however, reach a compromise with the star by allowing a stripper pole to be installed in his character's mock home courtroom, an idiosyncratic design touch that will be explained midway through the first season.