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Judge H. Lee Sarokin Headshot

The Good Wife Does More Harm to the Judiciary Than Newt Gingrich

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I am mindful of how Vice President Dan Quayle was mocked for criticizing Murphy Brown, a fictional TV character, for choosing to have a baby as a single mother. He suggested the program contributed to the "poverty of values," which, in turn, caused the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Nonetheless, I am willing to take the risk of ridicule in suggesting that The Good Wife, despite being a fictional program about the law serves to demean it.

Every episode that I have watched (and watching is mandatory in my house) has depicted judges as fools and idiots. They are portrayed not only as arrogant and pompous but deranged as well. Psychiatrists delve into one's past to determine current attitudes, and I can only assume that one or more of the writers of this program has had an unpleasant experience with a judge. Otherwise, it is difficult to account for this consistent derogatory portrayal.

While on the subject, I cannot help but wonder whether or not the writers have the benefit of advisers on the law. Not only are judges portrayed as half-wits, but the plots involving the law are often ridiculous or ludicrous. No trial takes place without someone running in at the last minute with new evidence or evidence is presented to an appellate court -- neither of which actually happens in the real world. There are other examples too numerous to mention. Dramatic license is understandable, but being authentic isn't that difficult.

If there were a decision that a "President" Newt Gingrich did not like, he would either have the guilty judge removed, have Congress overrule the decision, reduce the judge's budget or at a minimum shut off the judge's chamber lights. But even Newt does not condemn all judges -- just the ones who do not rule as he wishes. As contrasted to The Good Wife, he criticizes judges; he does not ridicule them. The Good Wife is very popular and boasts a viewership of about 13 million. Having that many people seeing judges (even fictional ones) depicted as pompous idiots week-in and week-out takes its toll on respect for the judiciary. I concede that I may be overly sensitive, but I suspect that surgeons would be offended by a hospital TV show that depicted doctors bungling operations on a weekly basis.

With conservatives constantly railing that too many judges are getting it wrong -- activists thwarting the will of the people -- it does not help to have such a popular program declaring that they are jerks and creeps as well. Before anyone goes ape that I am violating the free speech rights of the producers, I make no claim that they cannot do what they are doing. But if they continue -- maybe in the name of full disclosure -- they should call the show The Good Wife and the Bad Judge.