Benjamin Crump, most well-known as the lawyer for the families of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown Jr., is building on his fame in a new reality courtroom show premiering Friday on Fox.
According to Fox, You the Jury “will address hot-button issues that define America today. Whether it’s online trolling and the limits of free speech; the constitutional clash of gay rights with religious freedom; or whether someone’s death was the result of a tragic accident or something far more sinister, You the Jury will investigate the law and the intense human stories behind it. In a dramatic twist, the closing arguments will be presented by the plaintiff and the defendant as they sit across from one another.”
The true-crime reality show will be hosted by Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, a former prosecutor, judge and TV courtroom star. It “will give the biggest jury pool in history—America—the power to decide the outcome of some of the most explosive, real-life, ripped-from-the-headline civil cases.”
The contracts that litigants signed are binding, and the verdicts, which will be decided by viewers across the country American Idol-style, are final.
According to the Los Angeles Times, viewers will have just five minutes after the East Coast airing to vote from home, via text or the Fox Now mobile app, and render a verdict. If votes swing the other way after the West Coast airing, the verdict will be overturned.
Jose Baez, the attorney who successfully defended the infamous Casey Anthony, the Florida woman who stood accused of murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caley, will join Crump, Joseph Tacopina, Areva Martin, Mike Cavalluzzi and Charla Aldous in “question[ing] and cross-examin[ing] the litigants and expert witnesses, as they present their arguments to America and former judge of the Superior Court of California LaDoris Cordell,” according to Fox.
Cordell is Northern California’s first African-American judge.
Despite Fox’s billing, Crump is not a “celebrity” lawyer. His clients, the families of black children gunned down by law enforcement, are not “celebrities.”
Their children were victims of a white supremacist police state. And if this were a just world, we would have no reason to even know their names.
So this is an interesting choice for Crump, who also served as legal counsel for nine of former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw’s rape victims, particularly since Fox News personalities took great pleasure in vilifying Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Technically, Fox News is a separate entity from Fox Network because of the corporation’s structure, but Rupert Murdoch cashes the checks just the same.
Fox News has been staunchly anti-black, anti-woman and anti-justice, while Fox programming, including such shows as Empire and Shots Fired, continues to make a push for black audiences.
It is clear that Fox, by placing Crump front and center in advertising You the Jury and mentioning Trayvon’s name in press materials, is now hoping to entice even more black viewers by using the memory of a fiercely beloved dead black child as a transparent marketing ploy.
I find this to be just as disgusting as Pepsi co-opting the Movement for Black Lives to sell soda and revise the reality of state-sanctioned violence and the militarized police forces that carry it out.
Still, questions remain: Will Crump have the opportunity to discuss police brutality and an injustice system that works to ensure that so many killers with badges and deputized white supremacists walk free?
If he does, will he take it? Or will he use Trayvon’s body as a runway—gathering momentum on top of it in order to soar to higher heights?
The jury is out.