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Series / Judge John Deed

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Law Procedural starring Martin Shaw as John Deed, an unorthodox and uncompromising High Court judge. Aired on The BBC from 2001 to 2007.

Provides examples of:

  • Abuse Discretion Shot: When Mrs Cooper discovers an image of child porn on John's computer, the image is seen loading slowly, with a window blind in the background, and a head of dark hair just becoming visible, before she looks away.
  • Accuse the Witness: Played with, in that it is revealed that a witness made a deal with the Crown Prosecution Service to get a lesser sentence for another crime. John questions the witness about this, and vows to increase his sentence. The witness then leaps from the box and attacks John, who punches him back.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When a boy resists handing over his mobile phone which two thieves are attempting to steal, one of them shouts "Give it to him, let him have it before we're nicked"; the other thief then stabs the boy. They are asked in court what "Give it to him, let him have it" meant.
  • "Angry Black Man" Stereotype: Jez Balfi, accused of murdering a member of a rival gang, is convinced that as a black man, he will not get a fair trial.
    Jez: I want to object to some of the jurors.
    John: Why is that, Mr Balfi?
    Jez: Check them, man! They're all white bitches.
    John: Mr Balfi, I will not tolerate racism in any form.
    Jez: How am I gonna get no fair trial from Babylon?
  • Animal Testing: In "Duty of Care," Charlie turns up with Rosie, a beagle rescued from a laboratory, and foists her on John because she can’t keep her at her student accommodation. When John’s policeman turns up at Sussex University with Rosie in tow, Charlie eventually leaves her with a friend who’s involved in the ALF.
  • Bait-and-Switch: An in-universe example. In the trial of Jan Dobbs, who is accused of murdering her husband, the foreman of the jury dislikes her. When asked in court for the verdict, he announces "guilty", to angry uproar from the rest of the jury, who say they had agreed that she is not guilty. He casually dismisses this with "I made a mistake".
  • Big "SHUT UP!": When the jury foreman announces the wrong verdict (probably deliberately), the other jurors start loudly talking at once, until the clerk of the court yells "SILENCE!".
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Row Colemore is a mason. In “Abuse of Power,” he and John carry out an off-the-books investigation into a corrupt judge with Masonic ties.
  • Caught by Arrogance: Three members of a gang gain access to the hotel room of an enemy gang member, by posing as pizza delivery boys. After shooting their victim dead, they make their mark by squashing a pizza on his face, which happens to be seen by a call-girl hiding in the bathroom, and becomes a key piece of evidence.
  • Crusading Lawyer: The title character himself, who very much believes in doing what is right, and refuses to be influenced by the government and big business.
  • Daddy's Girl: George and Charlie for their respective fathers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many of the characters, which probably comes with the territory of the law, especially Sir Ian Rochester from the Lord Chancellor's department, who has many one-liners:
    "Deed would find something controversial in a bus lane violation."
    "You could always have Deed assassinated. We'd happily supply the gun."
  • Eco-Terrorist: Charlie and Rory get arrested for vandalising a field of genetically-modified wheat in the pilot.
  • Empty Nest: John was Charlie’s primary caregiver after the divorce, so he goes through this when Charlie leaves for university. John jokingly admits that he uses Rosie as a child substitute. Part of the reason he doesn’t want Charlie to go through with her decision to have an abortion is that he feels like she’s pulling away from him.
  • Friend on the Force: Row Colemore, a friend of John's who is also a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the local police force.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: The somewhat sinister circuit administrator Lawrence James, who wears thick-framed glasses.
  • Granola Girl: Kate Rankin in "Hidden Agenda", who has rejected all conventional HIV treatment and credits her good health to diet, yoga and meditation.
  • Gender-Blender Name: George and Charlie. Also Jo, but her name is at least spelt in a feminine form that distinguishes her from Joe Channing.
  • Insanity Defence: James Brooklands tries this, backed up by an army of psychiatrists, to avoid standing trial for killing a family by dangerous driving. John is not fooled, and cleverly breaks Mr Brooklands' cover.
    John: Well, it seems eminently sensible, that to protect the public, perhaps I should commit Mr Brooklands to Broadmoor. (Said dramatically, looking Brooklands in the eyes)
    Brooklands: (horrified, suddenly breaking out of his catatonic state) No! No!! You can't.
    (The jurors turn their heads to look at him)
    Defence barrister: My Lord, that's not a proper response!
    John: (cheerfully) Yes, you're quite right, it isn't. Your client doesn't seem to think so either.
  • Insistent Terminology: John disapproves of Jo adopting an orphaned eight-year-old boy, and refers to him as "the boy". Jo angrily corrects him every time with "his name is Michael!".
  • Jailed One After Another: The titular judge never hesitates to jail anybody who commits contempt of court. In Above the law, he sends down a whole succession of family and friends of the defendants who refuse to apologise for their behaviour in court; and in another episode, he jails a group of journalists who refuse to disclose who photographed a witness in court.
    Judge John Deed: Well, it can't be too much hardship spending a night in the cells, as you've been sent there by (quoting them) a fanatical judge who's out of control.
  • Lame Rhyme Dodge: George Channing does this, when muttering under her breath in front of John.
    John: Mr Justice Everard is indisposed.
    George: (muttering) With his leg over some git.
    John: What was that?
    George: I said, "we'll miss his wit".
  • Near-Rape Experience: A rapist who was convicted by John stalks Charlie and hides under her bed. Unfortunately for him, almost as soon as he grabs Charlie, George comes back to her bedroom door and Charlie screams as soon as she knocks.
  • Northern Irish And Nasty: One episode sees John trying a case of a Real IRA informant who also happens to be a serious domestic abuser.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Mrs Cooper is normally very calm and measured, as befits a judge's clerk. On one occasion she loses her cool, when John is considering abandoning a murder trial for jury sickness.
    Mrs Cooper (with passion): People don't care about whether there's a jury or not! What they do care about is criminals getting to walk away free.
  • Ordered Apology: The judge frequently makes people apologise for contempt of court, and takes pleasure in jailing those who refuse to do so, including barristers and court staff. In particular, he does this to one of his enemies Laurence James, and makes him apologise for stealing papers, while standing in the dock in the courtroom.
    Judge John Deed: (Fully robed) What have you got to say for yourself?
    Mr James: We are very sorry for our contempt.
    Judge John Deed: It's not we who are in contempt, it's you. However, I'll accept your apology.
    Mr James: We do require the papers.
    Judge John Deed: I'm not convinced you're sincere in your apology. Perhaps a night in the local remand prison would make you more contrite.
    Mr James: (hastily) My Lord, we are utterly, totally, absolutely, irrefutably sincere in our apology. Any offence we caused is wholly wrong, and we are sorry for it.
    Judge John Deed: If that's your last word, you can go. Mrs Cooper has been kind enough to photocopy the papers.
  • Punctuality Is for Peasants: The judge does this to a wealthy defendant Mr Brooklands whom he particularly dislikes, whose lawyers are pleading that he is mentally unfit to stand trial for killing a family by dangerous driving.
    Judge John Deed: (in his chambers, to his clerk Mrs Cooper) Is the defendant present?
    Mrs Cooper: Yes, with an army of psychiatrists.
    Judge John Deed: (heavily sarcastic) Oh, I'm sure that Mr Brooklands can afford them.
    (Instead of going into court, he makes a phone call to invite somebody for coffee)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: John gives one to the journalists who have covered the reality TV show, accusing them of encouraging a love of fame, instead of exposing government corruption.
  • Retirony: Mona Haart was only £60 away from saving up for a ticket to visit her Nan in Jamaica when she was killed in a hit and run.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Briggs in Duty of Care instructs George to represent him in his corporate manslaughter despite her insistence that she isn’t a criminal lawyer.
  • Royal "We": The circuit administrator Laurence James always refers to himself as "we", and is sometimes mocked by John for doing so.
    Laurence James: And if we refuse?
    John: Well, we have several options. We can knock you down, like any thief. We can call security, or we can have you locked in a cell for contempt. You take your pick.
  • Shout-Out: One episode is about a "TV Dungeon" reality TV show, a very obvious reference to Big Brother.
  • Slumming It: Charlie decides to go to Sussex rather than accepting an offer of a place at Oxford, much to the ire of George and Joe. Joe in particular feels that Oxford is where Charlie really belongs. When she gets in trouble with the police, Joe offers to grease the wheels to make her arrest go away, but only on the condition that she ditch Sussex and read law at Brasenose instead.
  • The Squadette: Coop is revealed to be a former soldier when detailing the Rape as Backstory of a friend in ‘’Rough Justice.’’
  • Stern Old Judge: Although John is more middle-aged than elderly, he tolerates no nonsense in his court.
  • Strictly Formula: There are many recurring themes.
    • On at least three occasions, Jo comes storming round to where John lives, ranting that somebody has died as a result of his ruling.
    • John frequently makes controversial decisions, against what the government or powerful corporations would like. As a result, the Lord Chancellor's Department and court staff try to stall him in any way they can: with a hoax bomb scare, telling him a court cannot be used because of asbestos, planting child pornography on his computer, and even calling him for jury service.
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: John sleeps with his therapist Rachel Crawcheck, despite having sought therapy with the intention of being more mentally fit to have a relationship with one woman.
  • Tranquil Fury: John often speaks in tranquil fury, especially when he suspects somebody is lying to him.
    John: (to a very senior police officer, suspecting a cover-up) Do you know the penalty for lying to a high court judge? If I find out I am being lied to, somebody is going to prison, and I don't care if it's the Commissioner himself, do I make myself clear?
  • The Unapologetic: In "Exacting Justice," George says she’ll die before she apologises to John for arguing against his ruling in court. She does eventually send him a note from the cells that reads, “I apologise, you swine!” so she can purge her contempt.
  • Unconventional Courtroom Tactics:
    • In the episode "above the law", a trio of young men accused of gang murder try everything to avoid conviction: heckling and jeering from the dock, bringing large numbers of family and friends to court to do the same, threatening the witnesses and having one killed, forming a Finger Gun at the jury, intimidating the jury so that they go off sick, almost causing the trial to be abandoned. John puts the dissenters very firmly in their place, sending them to the cells one by one; and when the trial is over, he charges them with contempt, and orders all of them to apologise. Most of them refuse to do so, and are all sent to the cells.
    • In a family case, a mother tries to bring the wishes of her dead son into the court, by sifting through his ashes, even after John has stated that it would have no bearing in court.
      John: How would your son feel about my lifting the order entirely?
      Mother: (sifting through the ashes) He's not very keen on that.
      John: Well, that's too bad, because that's what I'm going to do. I think you deserve each other, and you shouldn't waste any more of the court's time.
    • When an argumentative lawyer is himself a defendant, he tries everything he can to avoid conviction, including bullying his co-accused sister into pleading not guilty.
    • John himself often intervenes in ways which the lawyers consider improper. He frequently questions witnesses himself; and when several jurors allegedly fall ill, John visits them at home to persuade them to return to court.
    • When John receives a diary belonging to a murder victim, which provides incriminating evidence just after the prosecution has closed its case, he tries to present this evidence discreetly when he questions witnesses himself.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: In "Appropriate Response", Row suggests that Charlie’s worries about being stalked by a rapist who John had convicted and sentenced are a post-divorce cry for attention from her dad. John believes Charlie, whose concerns turn out to have been well-founded, but over the course of the episode we find out that it's George who Charlie feels ignored by.
    ”She’s busy. She’s always too busy.”
  • Writer on Board: One episode featured a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Andrew Wakefield as a heroic campaigner against dangerous vaccines being pushed by sinister government and pharmaceutical figures. When a letter to the Radio Times complained about this slanted treatment of the subject, the showrunner responded with vague remarks about "Big Pharma" that bordered on conspiracy theory. The episode was subsequently found to breach impartiality guidelines and the BBC undertook not to repeat it or release it on DVD.