If you’re anything like us, you’ve likely spent countless hours of your life watching episodes of Law and Order and (often) thinking you would have done things a bit differently in the courtroom. Well, courtesy of NBC’s new series Law and Order: You the Jury, you can finally have the say you deserve.
Here’s how it works — You the Jury essentially delivers on the implied promise of its name by making you the jury. A live, non-fictionalized version of NBC’s beloved long-running Law and Order franchise, the one-hour docuseries allows the audience to determine the verdict of live court cases.
While NBC has yet to release many details on what kinds of cases we the audience will weigh in on, we do know it won’t be murder trials. Viewers will also have the chance to vote at various points during each episode as to the “veracity of witnesses and persuasiveness of evidence.”
This got us thinking. If we could go back in time and apply the principles of You the Jury to some of our favorite Law and Order episodes, would we have done things differently? Would we have changed the outcome of certain trials? You betcha. Here are some standout verdicts we’d veto.
1. “Forgiving Rollins”
It took a while for us to warm up to Detective Rollins, but now that we have, we can’t imagine the team without her. Not to mention, learning about some of the trauma in her past really helped to give us a different perspective of her. A huge part of that past — and trauma, of course — was her former boss in Atlanta, Deputy Chief Patton, a misogynist who very clearly subscribed to the boy school of thought and who raped Rollins at one point. So when Patton’s new protégée, Detective Reese Taymor, came forward to reveal he raped her, we felt for sure he was finally going to get his comeuppance. Instead, he gets a proverbial slap on the wrist: In return for pleading guilty to sexual abuse in the third degree and being added to the sex offender registry, he doesn’t serve any time in jail. If we had our druthers, though, we would have pushed for the maximum sentence for the crime. Raping two women definitely deserves time in jail and abusing your power as a veteran cop should come with dire consequences.
OK, so we’re wading in treacherous waters here, because this episode centered on the hot-button topic of childhood vaccines. When a young mother (played memorably by Hilary Duff) covers up the unexplained death of her child out of guilt and fear that she somehow caused it, it seems like an open and shut case. Until, that is, the medical examiner pinpoints the cause of death as measles. Ultimately, it’s traced to the son of a well-known anti-vaccination mom who took her kid to the park to play despite him having just gotten over (or so she thought) measles. This directly resulted in the death of the young child. However, the non-vaccinating mother gets off scot-free, blaming the young mother for her own daughter’s death on the way out. In the end, this leads to another death… the death of the little girl’s grandfather. Because the anti-vaccinating mother knew her son was just getting over measles, she should have been held responsible in some way. Negligence? Reckless endangerment?
3. “Devastating Story”
What happens when someone entrusted with the impressionable minds of young people chooses to bend their influence for an agenda? That’s the heart of the matter in this tragic episode. In a story ripped straight from the headlines, a freshman at Hudson University comes forward saying she was sexually assaulted by her date and three of his friends. The girl, Heather, is joined at the station by her women’s studies professor. The story goes national when it airs on America’s Worst Crimes, fueling fervor and turning Heather into the self-professed “face of a movement.” The hockey players she accuses deny the sex wasn’t consensual and it later comes out some of of them are telling the truth. So, the case gets dropped, despite overwhelming evidence against one of the guys. So, here’s what we would have liked to see: some sort of charges levied at the women’s studies professor, who goaded Heather into fabricating the story in the first place.
4. “American Tragedy”
Since this is a murder trial, we technically wouldn’t be able to weigh in on this kind of case via You the Jury. But, still, we can’t get it out of our heads, so it bears mentioning. At the start of the episode, we see the detectives on the search for a serial rapist. Unfortunately, they have little evidence and the only description they have is “young black male.” While they try to close in on they perp, they wind up at Jolene Castille, a wealthy restaurateur/TV personality who’d just shot a young black man. She claims it was self-defense, but the audience soon learns she has a history of racism and her story doesn’t add up. Nevertheless, the jury finds her not guilty. But the truth is, murder is murder and it should be treated as such — particularly since the young black man had a clean past and there was no evidence he was guilty of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
5. “Pornstar’s Requiem”
When a porn star is violently raped, many people involved with the case have trouble separating what she does from the assault. One of the young men accused of raping her even goes so far as to say he didn’t think you could rape “a girl like that.” Still, after seeing the brutal manner in which the girl, Evie, was assaulted, the jury comes back with a logical verdict — the main suspect is found guilty of rape. Then, the shocking twist: The judge overturns the ruling, saying he couldn’t conclude Evie’s “no” was a true no. (What?!) Broken, Evie goes back into adult entertainment. The boys who raped Evie both merited a guilty verdict and the judge should have been slapped with a judicial misconduct charge.