For The People raises the bar on courtroom dramas

Screen captured image.
Screen capture of a scene featuring Susannah Flood and Vondie Curtis-Hall as AUSA Kate Littlejohn and Judge Nicholas Byrne, respectively, in the Claudia Yarmy directed "One Big Happy Family."

Is it possible the Paul William Davies created drama “For The People”  has surpassed “Law & Order” is THE courtroom drama to watch? The drama, five episodes into the current season, exceeds expectations. It is bold, brash and funny. There are no negative federal public defender tropes. This series presents both public defender and prosecutors accurately.

Televised on Thursday, 4 April 2019, the Claudia Yarmy directed “One Big Happy Family” addresses impartiality and equality under the law. Lady Justice wears a blindfold for a reason. It is a tangible representation of impartiality.

Further to creating “For The People,” Davies also worked on shows such as “Betrayal” and “Scandal.” Like the courtroom drama, both of the aforementioned productions had embedded within them a high degree of realism.


Image Credit: "For The People" Poster. IMDb image.
Image Credit: The image of the poster for the ABC courtroom drama “For The People” was provided by the entertainment website IMDb.


In this fifth episode, after receiving a letter from 12-year-old Emma Collins (Alison Fernandez), FPD (Federal Public Defender) Sandra Bell (Britt Robertson) seeks out AUSA (Assistant US Attorney) Kate Littlejohn (Susannah Flood) to prosecute Judge Grant Fitzgerald (Robert Curtis Brown). Because the judge took kickbacks from a for-profit detention centre, Bell felt Fitzgerald’s behaviour is criminally negligent.

Bell, not being a prosecutor, does not have the power to bring a case against Fitzgerald. Consequently, Bell brought the case to Littlejohn’s attention. Since the two attorneys had successfully worked together on previous cases, the federal public defender was confident her counterpart would at least consider the case on its merits. Because Littlejohn initially declined to prosecute the case, Bell recruited Ted (Charles Michael Davis) to assist her. After discovering significant financial irregularities in the judge’s background, Bell and Ted took their findings to the assistant U.S. attorney. After careful consideration of the evidence, Littlejohn agreed to move forwards with prosecuting Fitzgerald.


Discovery, as it pertains to the legal system, is the process though which defendants find out about the prosecutor’s case. For example, in this episode, Ted presents Littlejohn with a folder of documents showing Fitzgerald was taking kickbacks from a for-profit correctional facility. Normally people doing Ted’s job in the real would are providing such evidence for the defence.

Littlejohn’s decision to prosecute Fitzgerald was neither ego nor was it vanity. Because of her passion for the law, the attorney firmly believes “the law applies equally to everyone.” The law applying equally to everyone is more a theoretical construct than it is a practical application. Consequently, there exists a vast gulf between what is taught at law school and what is practised in the real world.


Even though “For The People” is not the real world, the people responsible for writing the teleplays for each episode draw from real life incidents to make the show realistic. the courtroom scenes in this episode, for instance. These scenes have an air of authenticity. Consequently, with the success of the first season, that is why we are enjoying the second one.

Littlejohn’s passion for the law is real. It is in her blood. The attorney firmly believes in “the public interest and impartial justice” being just cause for prosecuting a case.

For-profit detention centres are similar to hotels in that their success depends on occupancy. The more inmates a for-profit facility holds, the less likely such centres would close.

Does the law apply to everyone equally? According to Littlejohn and people like her, it is. She adamantly believes in equality under the law. Littlejohn prosecutes every case that crosses her desk with this belief in mind. In an ideal world, the AUSA is correct. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world.


Meanwhile, AUSA Seth Oliver (Ben Rappaport) takes FPD Jay Simmons (Wesam Keesh) up on his offer to stay at his parent’s home while leaky piping is repaired in the apartment building.

Jay lives with his parents. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, despite it being more common in other parts of the world, there are many multi-generational households in these United States.

Upon arriving at the Simmons’ home, Jay’s parents Sam (Arthur Darbinyan) and Vera (Anna Khaja) welcomed their guest with a well-prepared home-cooked meal. Considering the quality of Vera’s cooking, it is not surprising Seth was looking to stay longer. Since all good things must end, Seth returned to his own apartment.