1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 5 (USA)
Day in Court – the first daily ABC show to air before 3.00 pm since The Breakfast Club in 1954 – can be considered that network’s equivalent to CBS’s The Verdict Is Yours. Like that series, Day in Court stressed realism in its trial dramas, using actual lawyers, court clerks, and probation officers as well as actors.
Some 65 to 80 actors per week acted as plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses. Most were unknowns, but by 1963 several veteran movie character actors had guested, including Mae Clarke, Neil Hamilton, and Benny Rubin.
The Hollywood-based series had several cases per show, with the debut featuring indecent exposure, drunkenness, and property damage. Six UCLA law students scoured trial transcripts and legal journals for ideas the writers could use for stories.
While the drama in the courtroom was scripted, there was room for ad-libbing, An attorney’s failure to question one witness as planned in one episode gave the opposing counsel three minutes of airtime to destroy the case and made the judge reverse the originally scripted ending!
From 10 December 1958 to 30 September 1959, the show also aired on ABC Wednesdays at 9:30 pm under the title Accused, with the same cast. In 1960, ABC tried a second version at 11.00 am titled Morning Court with a different cast. It lasted seven months.
Although never a ratings winner, Day in Court did well enough to last an impressive seven seasons.