Friends help attorney Crump celebrate appearance on Fox reality show
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
The offer to be one of the featured attorneys on Fox’s new courtroom television reality show should have been enticing enough for Benjamin Crump to jump on board.
But it wasn’t until the Tallahassee civil rights lawyer saw the opportunity to bring some of the nation’s hot-button issues into the spotlight that he said yes to the producers. Crump made the first of three scheduled appearances on the primetime reality series, “You the Jury” last Friday night.
His role was to prove that a 3-year-old child was subjected to racist comments after his photo was used on the Facebook profile of a White man. It was right in Crump’s wheelhouse – he’s spent most of his career advocating for children’s rights.
“When I go in courtrooms across America, we are trying to raise the consciousness in those communities,” Crump said. “If we are talking about important compelling issues from the headlines and I have the whole of America as the audience, then that’s an opportunity to raise the conscious level in the national conversation about these important issues. That’s what persuaded me to do it.”
While millions of Americans were witnessing Crump in a courtroom setting for the first time, he and about 50 other people were at the Parks and Crump law office enjoying a watch party in Tallahassee. They joined viewers across the country in deciding the outcome of the case by texting their decision during a three-minute window.
A hush came over the crowd as former judge of the Superior Court of California LaDoris Cordell announced the verdict cast by voters. It was a victory for the plaintiff.
Crump pumped a fist in the air and his partner Daryl Parks beckoned the crowd to celebrate with a champagne toast.
“Thanks for sharing justice,” said Joe Bullard, a Tallahassee radio personality. “Thanks for being yourself and thanks for representing us.”
For awhile the watch party had the feel of the launching of a new career for Crump. However, he insisted that his off-screen career has his full attention.
“What I hope will come from all of this is that we will continue to be able to use the platform that God has blessed us with to try to help our community and our children and try to make sure that we can give them a brighter future,” he said.
Crump will appear in two more episodes. He also confirmed that he’ll make appearances on two other television shows – “Evidence of Innocence” on TV One and A&E’s “A Search for Justice.”
But he isn’t ready to pack and leave his hometown in Tallahassee for Hollywood.
“I’m still a country lawyer trying to fight for our communities in the courtroom,” he said, “but Hollywood has presented several platforms for me to try to advance the advocacy.”
Most of the show is taped, with only the casting of votes shown live.
“You the Jury” also features other prominent defense attorneys, including Jose Baez, who defended Casey Anthony, celebrity attorney Joseph Tacopina. Areva Martin, Mike Cavalluzzi and Charla Aldous also are featured on the show.
During his argument in front of Cordell, Crump showed the same mannerism as he has in any other case. His passion was obvious by the strength of his argument.
Not even the fact that he was appearing on a TV show could make him sway.
“You do see elements of real life Ben Crump,” he said.