Brow Beat

John Oliver Tells us How an Accurate Law & Order About the Public Defender System Would Look

Public defenders are so often under-resourced and overworked. And now the system around them has gotten the Last Week Tonight treatment, in Oliver’s first episode back after his hiatus. “If Law & Order reflected reality, their episodes would be pretty short,” said Oliver. “It’d basically just be, ‘How does your client plead?’ ‘Guilty, your honor.’ ”

“Fifty years after the Supreme Court gave everyone the fundamental right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one, we now have a system where the most vulnerable people are potentially being charged for access to a hideously broken system,” Oliver notes. More succinctly: “This is the American judicial system, not Candy Crush!”

Until we fix our criminal justice system, Oliver says, our police procedurals should probably look a little different. To give shows like Law & Order some inspiration, he enlists the help of several actors—including Dennis Quaid, Law & Order: SVU veterans Robert John Burke and Danny Pino, Josh Lucas, Regina King, and more—to read some revised Miranda rights.