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Wanting Hype: Sara Azari on Being a Legal Talking Head

Wanting Hype: Sara Azari on Being a Legal Talking Head

We recently spoke with Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Sara Azari for the Q&A, “Fearless,” in this year’s Southern California Rising Stars magazine, but not all of our conversation made it into print. In the unpublished excerpt below, Azari talks about the difficulty of appearing on TV to analyze high-profile, celebrity cases…

There’s a video on your site where you’re a talking head on Hollywood 411. Is that a national show?
I think it is national, because it’s on the TV Guide network. I did a thing on E! and now they have me in this rotation. When a celebrity gets in trouble, they call.

sara-azari.jpgThe one I saw, you were talking about the case against Dr. Murray–Michael Jackson’s physician. How accurately can you talk about a case like that from the outside? We only know some of the facts.
Exactly. You’re never going to know what’s in the police report, what’s in the prosecutor’s hands, what the defense has been given, and what the defense knows that might be good or bad for Dr. Murray, so you’re just going by whatever the media is feeding everybody. You’re just using your legal skills to try to make some sense out of what you hear.

The first time I did one of these, I thought, “Oh my god, I better really know this case.” But there’s no way I’m going to know this case–it’s not my case. So I was all concerned about having the right analysis and knowing everything possible about this case, and then I realized what they really want is … hype. They want to hear somebody talk about one side and the other person talk about the other side. That’s why they call them talking heads. It’s not about what is really going on.

You must be a downer on those shows. Because if you’re not advocating one side against the other, you’re not playing the game.
I actually did on that particular clip. My adversary had graduated law school but doesn’t practice, and they had me sitting with him. He was doing what he thought the prosecutors are looking for, and I was discussing what [Dr. Murray’s] defense should be. But I was also saying: “Even though I think this is what his lawyers are going to do, his defense is pretty weak.” Because how could you legitimize administering a drug you’re not supposed to administer in a home–it’s only for a hospital–in a home, then leaving?

I was stating what his defense needs to be to knock down the charges. At the same time, I was saying, “I don’t know who would buy that.”

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