On May 28, CBS News will premiere a new six-part documentary series Brooklyn DA from the team behind 48 Hours following a group of career assistant district attorneys as they juggle tough, high profile cases.
The King’s County District Attorney’s Office is one of the largest in the country, with 500 lawyers who handle 80,000 cases a year. “There were bound to be some that would work for TV,” says series creator and executive producer Patti Aronofsky.
The idea for the series came from a 48 Hours story Aronofsky did with Lesley Stahl in 2005 about a judge taking bribes in child custody cases, where she met some of the office’s ADAs. So when CBS came looking for summer programming, a law and justice documentary series seemed a natural fit for both the 48 Hours team and the network’s procedural-heavy primetime schedule.
“We were approaching them with six shows, it wasn’t endless, it was a limited run show,” says senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky of getting the attorneys to agree to participate.
As for future seasons, perhaps set in another city as ABC News has done with its documentary franchise of Boston Med and NY Med, Zirinsky says she’s not thinking past Brooklyn right now. “The truth is we’re focused on this and making this work,” she says.
Brooklyn DA will follow 12-15 attorneys; the final count is not known because the crew, which started filming in mid-February, will be shooting until the last day of the final episode. Aronofsky says the series should appeal to fans of Law & Order and 48 Hours, to see how the real district attorneys make arguments and put cases together.
“You see them win, you see them lose, you see them fail,” she says. “You see everything. You see one case they work for two years fall apart in the first episode.”
And though Brooklyn DA will show a limited amount of the attorney’s personal lives to gives the context of who they are, how they release their stress and who are their support mechanism, Zirinsky stresses that it is a news documentary series and won’t manipulate the action as reality series sometimes do.
“The course of events is what would happen if we weren’t there or we were there,” she says.
Brooklyn DA premieres Tuesday, May 28 at 10 p.m. ET. Watch profiles of some of the series’ subjects here and watch a trailer for the show below: