Law School from Television Shows?

Law School from Television Shows?

Fake Illinois Attorney Had No Formal Training

Recently the American Bar Association posted an article which reported that a 47 year old man was arrested in Illinois for practicing law. The man was an ex-convict and had never attended law school. However, he became a “lawyer” and was paid to represent clients in criminal court in Chicago, Illinois. He never took a case to trial though.

Held in contempt last month and jailed after being accused of representing clients in dozens of Illinois cases, Tahir Malik, 47, was charged with two counts of impersonation, WGN reported. He never attended a day of law school, the television station says, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart suspects the accused bogus lawyer picked up his trial skills from his own experiences of being arrested and prosecuted as a defendant.

But Malik also may have benefited from another source of nontraditional legal training, his father told the Chicago Tribune—watching legal dramas on television.

Apparently the non-lawyer attorney was not caught because of substandard performance, but was recognized by a Criminal Court Clerk as a former criminal Defendant. This was not surprising to many of the attorneys who posted comments on the article.

Television Legal Dramas Are Not Reality

However, legal dramas on television are hardly reality. “LA Law”, “The Practice”, “The Good Wife”, and many other lawyer shows depict a system which is far removed from real life court cases. For instance, often times on television the Defendant is arrested, arraigned and goes to trial within a few days or weeks. This is hardly reality! The legal process from arrest to trial takes months, if not, years. There are hundreds of criminal and civil cases on a court’s docket every week. Law firms and attorneys do not usually devote the entire firm to a single case.

The seemingly endless barrage of legal shows, and police dramas on television has create a false impression among the general public. Often times people are shocked at the length of time it takes for a legal case to proceed through the court. Jurors are now looking for that perfect DNA evidence, or the Perry Mason/Ben Matlock moment where someone confesses on the witness stand. In reality very few courtroom confessions are extracted, and attorneys usually do have the same pizazz as television actors.

Criminal Defendants, Victims and Jurors Have Unrealistic Expectations

Criminal Defendants and victims alike have unrealistic expectations as to technology which is utilized by the police. Some of the technology which is featured on shows like CSI, or NCIS is available, but it is very expensive, in high demand, and not always successful. The perfect piece of DNA evidence is often times not presented.

Remember that life is not a television show. The writers, actors, and producers of legal dramas are paid to entertain, not investigate real crimes, or defend real people. So if you are involved in a real life legal matter, civil or criminal, put your television fantasies aside, and rely upon the advice and counsel of a real attorney. If you want to be sure that your attorney is licensed and actually admitted to practice law in Tennessee you can check the status of any Tennessee lawyer.

Attorney James D. Purple, Sr., is a graduate of Memphis State Law School, and is licensed in the State of Tennessee, and is in good standing since 1982.

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