Norton, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-393-31928-6
Humor, 1999 (Reissue)
In Disorder in the Court, Charles M Sevilla attempts to show that members of his much maligned profession can be funny too. This book is a collection of anecdotes sent by various people, sometimes anonymously, to Mr Sevilla revolving around the ha-ha-ha’s of the courtroom. There is a section on witnesses, another on the defendants, and everything, from the judges to the evidence presentation all get a fair share of the spotlight here. The humor revolves around the things that are said in the courtroom.
Okay, there are some amusing anecdotes here, although a part of me is also somewhat scared by the number of racist or prejudiced judges running wild around the place, along with jury members that seem to be recruited from a distant planet where everyone inhales alcohol fumes instead of oxygen. And then there are the lawyers. The one who asked the forensics expert whether some poor soul was dead after an autopsy was completed on that poor fellow is one for the hall of the fame, heh. Then there is the account that exposes how ridiculous those tests conducted to determine whether one is DUI can be – that one makes me laugh as much as it makes me cringe at what dunderheads cops can be at times.
However, a significant amount of the humor here relies greatly on the reader’s familiarity with courtroom protocols and jargon. If you don’t know what the usual word used in a certain situation is, after all, you certainly won’t get the punchline that is someone using the wrong word in that situation. Unfortunately, my familiarity with courtroom drama never extends beyond watching episodes of LA Law and The Practice, so a lot of times I find myself scratching my head as I attempt to play spot-the-punchline with this book.
This one isn’t bad for a quick read, for those moments such as when one is stuck in a long bus ride or something, I guess. But because I don’t have an in with the courthouse, it is nowhere as funny as it is hyped to be.