Last week, Stamford Police arrested a Jerry Springer audience member for 53a-181 Breach of Peace. Surprised? I’m not. It’s not the first time this has happened. What do Stamford police expect? The Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos shows have been anchored in Stamford for years. Yet the reality is that producers and police know what they are getting—a three-ring circus of serial cheater husbands and wives, controversial and unexpected pregnancies riddled with mystery fathers, and good ol’ fashioned family brawls. So is it really a stretch to think that after these families are flown out to Stamford (with most if not all expenses paid), there’s going to be some sort of shenanigans between feuding family members either before, during or after the tapings???
It’s not a stretch at all. In fact, some could call it a setup! Here’s why…
While I have not been privy to any Jerry Springer Show or Steve Wilkos Show production meetings, what I can tell you from the Springer / Wilkos audience or guest arrests I’ve seen in criminal court around here is that some of these guests come to Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich all amped up to give a strong and compelling performance during their respective television tapings. These folks are flown out to our area, put up in nice hotels, and get wined and dined (usually on the television show’s tab) by way of a per diem expense budget. I have to wonder whether the guests are being “fluffed” by third parties who want to make sure they are sufficiently riled up for their performance. “Fluffers” are traditionally used in the pornography industry to keep the actors and actresses sufficiently excited. (Note to my literal readers: I am not suggesting that any guests on these TV show are physically fluffed as they are in pornography productions—I am merely using the term as a metaphor.) I have no idea whether Springer or Wilkos guests are proverbially “fluffed” but what I can tell you is that when I watch these shows, I often see many of these guests appear to have their adrenaline boiling, as they wear their emotions on their sleeves during tapings, and sometimes Springer producers have to step in and separate guests who look like they are about to rip each other’s heads off.
What strikes me as unfair about these recent Springer-guest arrests—or any Jerry Springer / Steve Wilkos arrest for 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct in Stamford, Greenwich or Norwalk—is that many of these guests cannot financially afford to get arrested for conduct that so many of the television audience members line up for hours outside the Stamford televisions studios to see. So when they do get arrested, two things happen: (1) the arrests get reported in the local papers and tri-state media, giving the television shows additional publicity, and more importantly, (2) the arrestee guests and audience members now face misdemeanor criminal charges and are required to report to Stamford or Norwalk Superior Courts to face 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct or 53a-181 Breach of Peace charges. As part of their criminal cases, these folks need to make a few trips back to Connecticut, hire a top Greenwich, Stamford, or Norwalk Disorderly Conduct criminal lawyer, possibly pay fines and courts costs, and hope their cases will work out at the end of the day. This is too much to ask.
The fact is that this is all entertainment and the antics and fighting should not be considered criminal. These shows bring scores of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue to Stamford. This money is made on the shoulders (and lumps on the heads) of these Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos guests. Why are we now punishing the guests for engaging in the conduct that they were expected to engage in on-camera? Comparatively, is it really any different from an ice hockey brawl? Of course the hockey players don’t get arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, or Norwalk for 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct or a 53a-181 Breach of Peace charges. They get million dollar contracts and fame. It’s simply unfair and begs the question of whether Stamford, Norwalk, and Greenwich police should extend the same courtesies and discretion that they offer to hockey players, WWE wrestlers, and other entertainers.
So if you are in town as a guest or audience member for the Jerry Springer or Steve Wilkos shows, and are facing charges in Stamford, Norwalk or Greenwich for 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct or 53a-181 Breach of Peace, call one of the experienced Stamford criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law. Having watched these shows for years, we understand your predicament and will fight aggressively for you in court—with legal arguments, however, not punches, hair-pulling and flying chairs!