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The Courtroom Index

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Judge: Bailiff! Call the next case.
Bailiff: in re An index of tropes relating to law, lawyers, and courtrooms.
Judge: Order in the Court. What are the specified charges, er, I mean tropes?

Tropes (media about law)

  • Ambulance Chaser: A lawyer exaggerates their client's injuries to get more in compensation.
  • Amoral Attorney: An attorney whose practices make it easy to call them evil.
    • Evil Lawyer Joke: The work or characters within it joke about lawyers being evil.
  • Army of Lawyers: Group of lawyers (or "legal team", alternatively) used as an intimidation tactic.
  • Backfire on the Witness Stand: A witness is called to the stand, but their testimony ends up harming rather than helping the side that called them in.
  • Bail Equals Freedom: When a work treats paying bail as a one-time fine for freedom, even though that's not how it works in Real Life.
  • Black Cap of Death: A judge puts on a black cap to let all those present know that the death penalty has already been decided and will soon be passed.
  • Blind Justice: Someone who works for justice and law is also blind.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Using something besides logic and reason to win a case. Can cross over into Insane Troll Logic.
  • Circuit Judge: A judge who moves from place to place within a territory.
  • Common Nonsense Jury: A wrong verdict is passed not because of ill intent, unfair rules, etc. The jury's just plain stupid.
  • Computerized Judicial System: A justice system that relies almost entirely on computers.
  • Court-martialed: Soldiers (or anyone else living under military rule) break the law and/or get out of hand. Thus, they have to answer for it in military court.
  • Courtroom Antics: A court proceeding ends up being wacky instead of serious.
  • Courtroom Episode: An episode that focuses on a court case.
  • Crusading Lawyer: A lawyer who cares more about doing what's right, protecting the weak, and giving a fair trial than money.
  • Custody Battle: Conflict ensues when a couple gets divorced and can't agree who should get custody of the children.
  • Decoy Trial: A trial falsely accusing someone in hopes that the true guilty party will come out.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: When a company has ownership of something so specific or unexpected that it can make one ask, "Really? They own that?"
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Two characters decide to get a divorce, but deciding who gets what part of the property is a big hassle.
  • Emancipated Child: A child legally disowns themselves from their own parents.
  • Fantastic Legal Weirdness: The presence of the supernatural interacts pretty weirdly with legal processes.
  • A Fool for a Client: A character decides to represent himself/herself in court.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: A lawsuit based on a pretty flimsy reason.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: If a client is good, then the lawyer must be as well, and vice-versa.
  • Guilty Until Someone Else Is Guilty: The primary suspect is assumed guilty until the true culprit is revealed.
  • Hanging Judge: A judge who is so ruthless that everyone in the court fears him. If this judge is giving your sentence, expect it to be horrifying no matter what crime you've committed.
  • Hello, Attorney!: An attorney who provides a good bit of Fanservice.
  • Hilarity Sues: The hero saves the day or the villain wins...and then they're brought into court.
  • Hollywood Law: Any case in which the Real Life workings and proceedings for law and justice are changed for dramatic purpose.
  • Humanity on Trial: The entire human race is put on trial, usually represented by one person or a small group of people.
  • Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: Evidence that could have cleared someone of a charge disappears from the crime scene.
  • Insanity Defense: Character(s) uses the defense that they're insane in hopes of evading a death penalty.
  • Joker Jury: A hero is brought into court. Problem being, the judge and jurers are their worst enemy (or enemies, even.)
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: A single group or even one person is given all the authority when it comes to justice.
  • Judicial Wig: The long, white, curly wig worn by a judge.
  • Jury Duty: An episode/arc about a character serving jury duty or doing their best to get out of it.
    • Jury and Witness Tampering: The jury or witness is bribed or threatened into changing their testimony/decision.
    • Rogue Juror: One juror's opinion goes against the others', and it's up to them to change their minds.
  • Jury of the Damned: The accused is granted a trial with a jury, but said jury is composed of untrustworthy or even malicious people.
  • Kangaroo Court: A trial with no due process, fairness, or even order, wherein the accused has absolutely no chance of trying, let alone winning, because their verdict has already been decided; the trial is just a show, and its only purpose is to legally declare that there was a trial.
  • The Law Firm of Pun, Pun, and Wordplay: A law firm with silly, funny names.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The accused is given a sentence longer than they could possibly live. note 
  • Make the Dog Testify: A witness that is unconventional or just plain bizarre.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Any case where an innocent person is found guilty (or a guilty person is found innocent).
  • Never Filled Out Official Paperwork: A situation where not filling out proper paperwork may lead to situations like dismissal or disqualification from a judicial situation.
  • Notably Quick Deliberation: The jury comes to their decision very quickly, for any reason.
  • Notary Nonsense: Notaries and notarization depicted unrealistically in fiction, in ways that would either have no bearing in court or be outright detrimental to any case.
  • Occult Law Firm: A law firm that defends the occult or supernatural beings.
  • Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: In fiction, if you have a law degree, you can represent in any trial for any crime.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: When someone asking for a lawyer is treated as a sure sign of a guilty conscience.
  • Penultimate Outburst: Someone in a courtroom causes so much disruption that the judge warns them one more time, or else.
  • Persecuting Prosecutor: A prosecutor who will do anything and everything to win their case.
  • Scales of Justice: The literal or metaphorical image of scales in a court.
  • Sentenced Without Trial: Someone is condemned for a crime without receiving a trial, despite being specifically entitled to one by whatever legal system exists in the setting.
  • Simple Country Lawyer: A lawyer from the country who may not be rich or expensive to hire, but tries to win over the jury with their charm and appeal.
  • Spousal Privilege: Married characters have certain privileges in court, such as being free to not testify for or against their spouse.
  • Statute of Limitations: After a certain time, a character cannot be convicted of a crime.
  • Stock Legal Phrases: You know, the phrases that seem to pop up in every fictional trial. "Stop badgering the witness!" "Has the jury reached a verdict?" etc.
  • Stern Old Judge: The archetypical no-nonsense, venerable judge.
  • Streisand Effect: When attempting to use legal action to hide something minor backfires and makes it far more visible than it would have been otherwise.
  • That Was Objectionable: A lawyer objects in a trial, except they have no reason to.
  • There Is No Higher Court
  • There Should Be a Law: It's technically not illegal, but it grosses or angers a character so much that they verbally wish that there was a law against it.
  • Trial by Combat: When two parties have to settle their legal dispute by violently fighting in a duel.
  • Trial by Ordeal: When the defendant's guilt or innocence is determined by being forced into a dangerous life-or-death situation.
  • Trial of the Mystical Jury: The hero has been captured and forced into a trial, but his captors/jurors are not villains. Most likely, they have committed a crime they were not aware existed where they are.
  • The Trouble with Tickets: A character is dealt a traffic ticket and fights teeth and nail against it.
  • Unconventional Courtroom Tactics: Where characters involved in the trial engage in unconventional behavior in order to make their case.

Tropes (law about media)

Sounds like this index, but isn't

  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer (a lot of these guys are lawyers, but most of them aren't.)
  • Rules Lawyer (more about applying lawyerly behavior where it might not be called for, although there are obviously exceptions.)

Judge: And if you took the time to read all the entries all the way down here you are found guilty of spending too much time on TV Tropes. Sentence is four words. Bailiff! Call the next case.

Alternative Title(s): Courtroom Index