In the twenty third and final installment of his weekly column in Law360, DOAR’s real-life New York City Jury Consultant and Psychologist reviews the fictional NYC Jury Consultant/Psychologist on the television series “Bull,” focusing on what litigation is really like in the trenches.
In a fitting end to the season, Bull provides us with a confusing, nonsensical, yet entertaining season finale.
The Case of the Loving Siblings
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raids a house during a boy’s birthday party and finds a stockpile of heroin under the porch. Mom is arrested, and we learn that she is the civilian sister of a major drug trafficker. The brother hires J.P. Nunnelly’s (Eliza Dushku’s) firm to defend his sister, and Nunnelly’s firm hires Bull, who does his new thing of anguishing over whether he can work for a drug trafficker.
The trial takes place in Miami. The judge decides that the potential jurors are afraid to sit for the case, so he puts up a wall in front of the jury box and has an anonymous jury.
Bull, because he is a genius, does the equivalent of a blind wine tasting for his master sommelier exam. He listens to each potential juror’s voice through the wall during voir dire and gleans full lives that he can use to create a mirror jury, murmuring to Marissa that one man’s voice, for instance, makes it clear that he is Caucasian and heavyset.
Meanwhile, the team has a recording of the phone call that tipped off the DEA to raid the house. The caller uses vocal distortion, but the team analyses the recording and decides that it was the mom’s nine-year old son. The mom had previously rejected the suggestion to turn against her brother, and viewers had to sit through a long maudlin speech about why (something about love). When the mom is presented with the news that her son called the feds though, she decides to turn against her brother to free herself. Once your nine-year-old son is trying to imprison you, your brother is no longer the one you should fear. (No homework again tonight, son. Just don’t send me to the cornfield).
She does not want her brother or the cartel to realize she is turning though, but Bull knows what to do. Behind his attorney’s back, Bull colludes with the prosecutor and the judge to stage a fake ending to the woman’s trial that appears to free her on a technicality with Nunnelly’s unwitting cooperation. The woman is free and the brother is arrested.
This plan works because judges are always game to rig and falsify court proceedings, and because drug cartels are too dumb and distracted to murder everyone involved in a plot like this. Not shown: The nine-year old takes over the cartel and never eats a vegetable for the rest of his life.
So Bull wins again! He has a perfect record for season one.
Is That What Jury Consulting is Like?
After 23 episodes and 23 columns, I turn the question over to you: Is this what jury consulting is like?
The original mission of this column was to use this new show about a smarmy genius jury consultant as a vehicle to teach people about the hidden world of jury consulting, but mostly to crack jokes. You are now qualified to answer this question and to start your own consulting practices. As a teacher who gives and gives, I don’t ask for your thanks. I only ask for 10 percent of all future revenues.
The answer to the question, of course, is no, this is a highly entertaining, if not factually accurate, depiction of what jury consulting is like. Granted, most of the jury consulting on the show has consisted of illegal and unethical behavior amid nonsensical trial practices, but at the end of the day, the show has probably not done permanent damage to the U.S. legal system. So far.
This is not just the season finale, but also the column finale. If you have read this far into my snotty commentary of a dorky show, then, to incorrectly paraphrase Lester Bangs on the occasion of Elvis’ death, we will never again agree on anything like we agree on this. So I will not say goodbye to Bull. I will say goodbye to you.
Thank you for joining me on our journey.