What's All This Then?

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

If there’s one thing the legal profession doesn’t need, it is to have lawyers make spectacles of themselves on the public airways day after day - providing ammunition for those who maintain that there is substance at the heart of all those demeaning lawyer jokes.

But that’s what’s been happening with CNN’s coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, via the Larry King show and the newly inaugurated Nancy Grace show. And it’s not just that we’ve been subjected to the sleaze that we all knew was somewhere in the heart of ALL lawyers - it’s that CNN in its wisdom, decided to do it with female lawyers!!

If I had to pick the worst of them, it would have to be Nancy Grace. This lady is a former prosecutor who it seems no longer practices law. I wasn’t familiar with her until the Jackson trial began. Apparently, she left her job in the Atlanta Fulton County District Attorney’s office to become a commentator for Court TV. I never watched Court TV so I didn’t know of her existence before I saw her as an analyst on other cable programs covering the trial. I don't recall where I first saw her but I know she's been a frequent guest on Larry King Live - and now she has her own cable show.

According to her biography, furnished online by Court TV.com - Ms Grace never lost a case during her tenure as a prosecutor. Nearly 100 cases tried and not a single loss!! Having watched her perform on television, I can understand that record. She must have scared jurors half to death. They likely figured if they didn’t vote her way she’d come after them!! And let me tell you - I think I’d rather be chased by Genghis Kahn!!

If I had to pick one word to conjure up a vision of this lady lawyer, I think it would have to be venom!! On her new show, her role is that of host. On the trial re-creation show on which she appeared, it was that of analyst - and I gather that was what she was supposed to be on Court TV. But what comes across is prosecutor!! It’s as though she can’t leave her past life behind. Her "analysis" of the Michael Jackson trial has been prosecutorial throughout. She not only doesn’t try to hide her belief that Jackson is guilty, but she also makes it pretty darned clear that she doesn’t like the guy.

Having watched her enough times now, this isn’t any kind of surprise to me. My impression of the lady is that she doesn’t like anybody and she has little time for anyone who disagrees with her. If I couldn’t use the word "venom," I’d be happy using "nasty" as a substitute. I can imagine myself having sat through one of her trials as a member of the jury and having to go home and take a long hot shower at the end of each day’s proceedings. To stop the shudders from running up and down my back.

A couple of other ladies who at least appear to be practicing law when they’re not appearing as "analysts" on CNN are Stacey Horrowitz, identified as an assistant States Attorney in Florida and Susan Filan, also identified as an assistant States Attorney, in her case from Connecticut. Both were on with Larry King a couple of nights ago and both came across as budding disciples of the Nancy Grace school of trial analysis for TV.

Stacey Horrowitz has to be grateful that jury members in cases that she prosecutes, don’t get to see what we see at home - a close up of a face that appears to be contorted in anger whenever she is trying to make a point. And her voice doesn’t detract from her facial expressions - except perhaps that she sounds as annoyingly angry as she looks. The woman sneers, With curled lip yet.

Susan Filan wants to talk over other people, often with innocuous points that have little to do with substance but with some obscure point of law that the average viewer - and juror - could care less about.. Her facial expressions aren’t quite as bad as Horrowitz’s, but it’s obvious that she didn’t grow up practicing in front of a camera.

I’m about as far removed from being a misogynist as one could be. I like women. I like them more than men. I don’t agree with Professor Henry Higgins when he asks

"Why can't a woman be more like a man? Men are so honest, so thoroughly square Eternally noble, historically fair Who when you win will always give your back a pat Why can't a woman be like that?"
But I must say that the demeanor of the male lawyers who have appeared on these programs, have, in stark contrast to their female counterparts, appeared to be more reasonable and fair minded.

But I regret to say that it’s not just the lady lawyers who come across so badly. There is a woman who appears on these Jackson trial analysis programs who is identified as a Michael Jackson "spokesperson." Her name is Raymone Bain and if you check her name on line, you find that she is a principle of Davis, Bain & Associates, Inc - a Washington DC based PR firm and that she has been a spokesperson for several high profile clients including tennis star Serena Williams and recording artists Babyface and Boyz II Men.

We can thus assume that she was hired by Jackson and is being paid to make him look good on these television programs and elsewhere. He’s not getting his money’s worth.

Ms Baine doesn’t convey the sense of nastiness that exudes from the lady lawyers, but as a defender of Jackson, she is a one trick pony who can’t even perform that trick at a professional level. No matter what questions are put to her, her answers are pretty much the same. Michael is innocent. He would never do the things they say he did. He’s saddened by all these people that he helped and was nice to, turning on him like this. And she insists that if Jackson testifies, he will be a fine witness -focused and articulate. Only she pronounces it a-ticulate - an indication that she is not.

I can’t begin to imagine what she has been able to accomplish being a spokesperson for Serena Williams and others. Maybe they really didn’t need explaining to the public at large and all she did was issue written statements. But in a TV panel setting where she is representing one of the world’s oddest entertainers whose very life is on the line, and where sharp lawyers are challenging every aspect the way he lives and questioning his relationships with children - she is totally ineffective. On the odd chance that jurors on the case who are not sequestered, may be watching programs on which Ms Baine appears - Jackson has to hope that she will bore them to tears and they will switch to watching a different soap opera. They are not going to be influenced positively about her client by what they hear from her. No matter how many times she insists that he is a-ticulate.