In the real world, criminal defense attorneys, like this one, represent individuals charged with serious crimes. These crimes include DWI & DUI, theft and fraud, drug crimes, and much more. Criminal defense attorneys dedicate their lives to protecting the rights and interests of the accused.
While real criminal defense attorneys, like this Austin criminal lawyer Ian Inglis, provide a necessary service, I am particularly captivated by how these attorneys are representation on television and in Hollywood. These attorneys are sensationalized and have very strong personalities. As a film/television buff, I decided to write about some of my favorite portrayals of the criminal defense attorney.
I’ll start with my favorite, Saul Goodman, as seen in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Goodman, formerly known as Jimmy McGill, is a fictional criminal defense attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Attorney Goodman decided to change his name to sound like the phrase, “S’all good, man.” He is known for putting over-the-top commercials on TV and as being a “criminal” attorney. Over the course of the series Breaking Bad, Goodman represents numerous drug lords, including the show’s main character, Walter White. SPOILER ALERT: Saul Goodman’s legal career comes to an abrupt halt, and he ends up serving as manager at a Cinnabon. In a way, his story is especially tragic, because he went from the fast and thrilling life as a criminal defense attorney to a calmer lifestyle as a Cinnabon manager. In fact, Saul Goodman is once shown looking back on the glory days when he pops in a VHS tape of one of his old commercials after he gets off his Cinnabon shift.
My second favorite, (and in my opinion, the most humorous) criminal defense attorney as seen on TV is Barry Zuckerhorn. Zuckerhorn represents the Bluth family in the show Arrested Development, and he defends George Bluth in his criminal fraud trial. Attorney Zuckerhorn often finds himself in a lot of legal trouble, and not many of the other attorneys in the legal community think too fondly of him. His character is centered around his incompetency as a lawyer. It is no surprise that given his inability to be a good lawyer, Zuckerhorn paid someone to take the California Bar exam for him. Eventually, the Bluth family gets tired of having Zuckerhorn as their attorney, so they fired him and replaced him with another attorney. Zuckerhorn himself hired this new attorney to represent him when he received later criminal charges.
Lastly, every list must include Attorney Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Unlike Zuckerhorn, Finch is an effective advocate for his criminal defendants. Furthermore, unlike Goodman, Finch takes his work very seriously. He is unaffected by the terrible racial views and customs of his era. In fact, he is seen staunchly defending an accused African American client, contrary to the customs of his town in that era. Finch is portrayed as an honorable, effective advocate that gives a good name for criminal defense attorneys in the real world.