Cameras in the courtroom-- Judge Craig Strong, Detroit Legal News, make cameo appearances on 'Detroit 1-8-7'

By John Minnis

Legal News

In what may likely be the one and only scene shot in a Wayne County courtroom, Judge Craig Strong made a cameo appearance in the seventh episode of the locally produced police TV drama, ''Detroit 1-8-7.''

The episode, ''Broken Engagement/Trashman,'' aired Nov. 9 and featured three unusual storylines. The first involved the murder of an up-and-coming female engineer who worked in Detroit's ''Tech Town.''

The second murder involved a young drug dealer found dead in a residential trash container in the LaSalle Gardens neighborhood where Kwame Kilpatrick's mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, lives in real life.

For a witness, the writers brought back the suspect who, very un-Detroit-like, ordered a ''soda'' in the series' first episode. This time, he properly asked for a ''pop.''

Judge Stone appeared in the third storyline where Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Alice Williams (Rochelle Aytes) was prosecuting a skinhead for killing the mother of a 10-year-old boy.

Judge Stone got one speaking part after a 19-year-old witness, who is afraid of the killer and had fled the witness room before being called, was unavailable. At that point, Williams asked for a brief adjournment and Judge Stone answered, ''Motion granted,'' and banged his gavel.

Executive Court Administrator Ronald R. Ruffin said Episode 7 has the only scene inside a Wayne County courtroom so far in the TV series.

''That is the only one used so far, '' Ruffin said, ''and the only one that will be used. Every use has to be approved by me, and no others have been requested.''

Strong was selected as the judge in the scene, Ruffin said, since he was an attendee at the show's premier. Judge Strong was unavailable for comment.

A judge in the Criminal Division of Wayne County Circuit Court, Strong's courtroom is in Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on St. Antoine at Gratiot.

Regular court attendees and clients of the Detroit Legal News may have also noticed that as the camera panned the courtroom in Episode 7, there is a clear view of the Legal News' distinct calendar on the back wall.

Unfortunately, the name, ''Detroit Legal News,'' was not visible.

''The calendar certainly lends authenticity to the scene since the calendars have been a fixture in Detroit courtrooms for decades,'' said Brad Thompson, president of the Detroit Legal News.

The future of ''Detroit 1-8-7'' after its 18-episode run is uncertain and will depend on how it stands up against other offerings in the spring. Already, the show is slated to lose its Tuesday primetime timeslot in March to a new ABC drama, ''Body of Proof.''

Published: Thu, Dec 16, 2010

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