Can we crowdsource justice through tv? Primetime courts & audience juries

You The Jury - tv civil courts

News appeared today that NBC picked up a pilot from the man behind Law & Order, Dick Wolf, to create a show for next TV season, called You The Jury.

On the show, a civil court case will play out, and the TV-watching public will play the jury. Like with American Idol or other reality shows, people watching at home can use their digital devices to vote on the outcome they think best.

Producers from other reality competitions — Master Chef & Project Runway — will also be working on this show as well.

What does this mean, is it good or bad? One part of me is excited for more view into the realities of the legal process on primetime television — perhaps this is a democratizing effort to make the legal system more comprehensible and visible to normal people. And like other online proposals to crowdsource dispute resolution, through lots of people voicing ‘what’s right, what’s wrong’ — then there might be some model that could be useful in new dispute resolution design.

But my big fears are (1) that a narrative/reality-based show approach will oversimplify the case and lead to distorted outcomes, and (2) that like with Serial, when you open a real-life case open for public scrutiny through mass media, the public might end up pursuing mob justice on platforms like Reddit and otherwise.

Any thoughts, should we be hybridizing our justice system with entertainment channels? Is there any upside to this that makes it worth the potential risks?