I am wondering, how accurate is the depiction of the court proceedings in Law & Order?

By this I mean the vocabulary they use, and also if the sentences they make using that (legal) vocabulary have any resemblance whatsoever to what an actual lawyer might say in court.

Examples are:

  • Some lawyer says something to the judge and the judge says "So noted Mr. So and so". Do real courts do this?

  • What about the judge asking the jury things like "...murder in the second degree how do you find"? (apologies if I got the words wrong)

  • Prosecutor says "Permission to treat this witness as hostile, your honour?"
  • Judge says "Overruled" or "Sustained" when a lawyer interjects a comment opposing a question the opposition's lawyer has asked.

In response to comment: Yes, this question is about US courts.

In response to answer: Please include your qualifications if you answer this question. I am looking for an answer by someone with a legal background or similar qualification.

Also please note that I am aware of what my examples mean in the series. I am not asking for an explanation of their meaning.

  • For the US only I assume?
    – Oak
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 9:14
  • 1
    @Oak Perhaps even limited to NY, since I'm under the impression that court proceedings are different from region to region (e.g. My Cousin Vinny).
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 10:44
  • @Oak Yes, I edited the question.
    – Matt N.
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


Yes, L&O is fairly accurate about the common legal terms used.

  • So noted: It's been placed on the record for consideration.

  • Judge asking the Jury their finding on a specific charge.

  • A Lawyer needs permission from a Judge to treat a hostile witness as such, changing some rules on what and how the lawyer can ask certain questions. A specific legal term.

  • Overruled and Sustained are also specific legal terms regarding an Objection by a lawyer.

Most of these are fairly traditional key words. They don't have to phrase it like that exactly as long as they get the meaning across. A lawyer can object without referencing a specific objection type if the behavior objected to is blatant, and the judge can simply agree or tell the offending lawyer to move on. But as court cases become more serious, these terms are used more frequently out of formality.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer. May I ask: What is your legal background? Looking at your profile it looks to me like you are an electrical engineer.
    – Matt N.
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 1:28
  • Note that I am aware of what my examples mean in the series. I am not asking for an explanation of their meaning.
    – Matt N.
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 1:35

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