When I was growing up (a long, long time ago) I would watch Perry Mason episodes on television. That show, and E.G. Marshall starring in The Defenders, presented my first awareness of the legal process. I have been called on by one faculty member who uses video clips in her presentations to locate Perry Mason segments where Perry thunders at a witness (“May I remind the witness that you are under oath!”) with facts derived from Paul Drake’s investigations. The result more often than not brought a surprise confession from the witness or someone in the gallery. District Attorney Hamilton Burger would, more often than not, sheepishly approach the bench and ask for some variation of dismissing the charges. In these days of regulated discovery, even in criminal cases, I’m not so sure these courtroom encounters would pass legal muster. They made for riveting entertainment nonetheless. I often enjoyed searching for these clips as it was more entertaining than locating cases on certain aspects of employment discrimination.
Mason was created by author Erle Stanley Gardner and published the first of a long line of Mason novels in 1933 with The Case of The Velvet Claw. Much to my surprise, the American Bar Association is rereleasing the first five Mason novels on Ankerwycke, its consumer imprint. More information is available here. I think I may go back and wander through some of the clips I’ve collected in the course of reference service.