I never practiced as an attorney, but I have spent a fair amount of time inside a courtroom, both during and after law school (and even some before), and I always found it extraordinary just how ordinary it is, and those of you who have spent time on a jury know this very well. It’s not at all what we are accustomed to seeing on television. The lawyers are not incredibly attractive and well spoken; objections are not raised with dramatic precision; papers are shuffled; there’s lots of pauses and dead air; even the most dramatic of cases are ultimately kind of boring and mundane.
Sarah Koenig and the magic of editing will find the intrigue in the humdrum in the third season Serial, which will return on September 20th with two new episodes followed by weekly episodes. This season, the podcast will tackle the criminal justice system not from one single case, but holistically. As Koenig says in the season three trailer, the Adnan Syed case in the first season, while fascinating, wasn’t particularly representative of America’s criminal justice system — it was an extraordinary case.
Koenig, instead, wants to turn her focus to the ordinary, and she and her team spent an entire year inside one Cleveland courtroom (because it’s the one place that would let her record everything), and she followed multiples cases each week to get a better sense of how the criminal justice system actually works from the inside of a “regular prosecution.” Even in the “regular prosecutions,” however, Koenig and the Serial team find a “litany of things that shouldn’t be allowed: Extra charges loaded onto a case, pressure to plead, shoddy police work, a police officer possibly lying on the stand, eleventh hour evidence shoehorned into a trial, overworked attorneys, dozing jurors, dozing judges, and outsized prison sentences.”
As Koenig notes, however, no one cares about these cases because no one is watching.
Now, the rest of the country will be watching, and over the course of the third season, we’ll likely find out exactly how flawed our ordinary criminal justice system is and, I’m guessing, how extraordinary it can also be, flaws and all.
Check out the Season 3 trailer. The podcast returns on September 20th, and it will also be available for free on Pandora via an exclusive streaming partnership.
Header Image Source: Serial Productions