Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Criminal Defense Lawyer Video Game?

I used to worry about what my kids thought of my job when I was a public defender and they were in elementary school, hearing constantly from groups like MADD and DARE about how the police put bad guys behind bars, where they belonged. How would they rationalize, in their young minds, the fact that Daddy later stood beside these "bad guys" in court, trying to keep them out of jail, where all the authorities seemed to say they belonged.

I always thought I'd have to wait and explain this when they were old enough to see shades of gray in what their teachers described or when they realized that even the police need policing and the truth in Lord Acton's famous phrase about "all power corrupt"ing and "absolute power" tending to corrupt absolutely.

But then my daughter comes home with a new video game on her Nintendo DS called Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

Yes, that's right criminal defense lawyers, a children's video game has one of us as the hero. His catchphrase? "OBJECTION!" delivered with his hand pointing directly at the bad guy, the prosecutor! As the Gamespot website describes the game:

"The game has you controlling Phoenix Wright, a lawyer fresh off the bar who is, initially, more than a little nervous. The first case you take on, a murder trial in defense of Phoenix's dopey best friend, Larry Butz, serves as a tutorial in which law firm chief Mia Fey guides you through the ins and outs of courtroom procedure...
. In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, discovering the killer is not the surprise; instead, it's the way in which you bring him or her to justice. The events surrounding the murder always end up leading to the false accusations of innocent witnesses, and as a defense attorney, it's Phoenix's job to get a verdict of "not guilty," despite the lying witnesses, shady prosecutors, and a judge who sometimes forgets the letter of the law. "

Hilarious. And it seems to be finding a great reception in America after its introduction in Japan. According to Wikipedia:

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was very hard to find in stores shortly after its North American release because of a shortage due to unexpectedly high demand...
The game received generally favorable reviews, most of which cited its interesting stories and enjoyable characters as strengths... Gamespot bestowed a "great" 8.8 score.

But, in a review that's bound to garner lots of respect for our profession's much maligned role in in the halls of corporate law firms, Marilyn Manson described the game as "$%#@ amazing" during an interview with E!

So, no more hemming and hawing when people ask you what kind of law you practice or say "how could you?" Just say, like PeeWee Herman said to Dottie at the end of his Big Adventure, "I don't have to play Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney; I live it."


Mark Bennett said...

$%#@ awesome. Even better, there are at least four games in the series. Does the game appear suitable for a bright 7-year-old?

Dave Tarrell said...

Thanks for the comment. The answer is a little humbling as I asked an "expert witness," my 14 year old daughter, and she said that although the game requires you to read quite a bit to cross examine the witnesses, she thinks a bright 7-year old could do it. (I hope that doesn't mean they could also do our jobs!)

Leowxec said...

$%#@ awesome. Even better, there are at least four games in the series. Does the game appear suitable for a bright 7-year-old?