The cliche for the digital age: “There’s an app for that!”
We can honestly say, “Court adjourned,” as the very last app idea to be conjured is now available, and it’s geared toward the legally obsessed.
Alison Triessl has introduced Exhibit A: Wild About Trial, the only mobile app for criminal trial lovers, bursting with up-to-the-minute information on the current trials nationwide that are your biggest guilty pleasures. In the palm of your hands, and on the go, you’ll get updates and even streaming video on select cases, with gavel-to-gavel exposure to our criminal justice system in action.
Yo, app user! Wild About Trial makes you the thirteenth juror. Have a seat! Actually no, scratch that from the court record. Instead, deliberate while you’re on the treadmill at the gym. It’s like the best jury duty ever, but you’re duty free.
Alison, who is an LA-based criminal defense attorney herself, knows that phones have evolved into a natural extention of our hand, and the app is a natural evolution of her own never-ending intrigue with criminal trials. In our new normal, justice on the go seems like a perfect fit that let’s us acquit our intense curiousity for the fate of good guys and bad guys. These days, we’re even tweeting from the courtroom, with no objection.
“Cases that have social significance get the attention that they deserve,” Alison says. “[Social media] also plays a role in policing people and makes them much more open to scrutiny. Ten years ago [many of these trials] would have gone unnoticed. But with social media, it opens up discussions. The flip side, of course is that [people on trial] are often vilified immediately. And it’s very hard, once the genie is out of the bottle, to ever put it back in. Often, when a trial catches fire on social media, [public opinion] becomes the gospel, and that should not always be the case. Social media has its dangers, but it also sheds light on these stories. People are now watching [trials] that would have gone unnoticed throughout history, I think that’s a good thing.”
Wild About Trials picks up in this century where Court TV left off in the last.
“I was a huge Court TV junkie,” Alison tells me. “I watched trials all the time.”
Of course, while we’re on a slow-speed chase down Memory Lane, we remember that OJ taught us a thing or three about how a trial can hold our attention as a nation. It can bring us together and painfully divide us, all at once.
“I would constantly miss my law school classes for Court TV,” she reminisces about the good-old-OJ days before the Internet. “I followed every word. The lawyering for the defense was superb. Whether you liked the verdict or not, all credit goes to Johnnie Cochran, who put on an amazing case.”
With the American justice system’s waiting list extending into infinity, the content pickings are anything but slim. Alison, though, has a plan.
“We literarlly scour the country, looking at cases that have some public interest,” she says of her selection process for the app. “The court has to allow cameras in it. There are certain places that are more willing, like Arizona and Florida. New York doesn’t allow cameras in a courtroom. Then a lot of cases get settled, so you have to be able to follow it through. We always want to be on the pulse. We want to see what cases are most interesting. And we have a good banter with our viewers.”
Although there are many female public defenders, Alison is one of the few private female defense attorneys, which allows her to give us a unique perspective on the most dramatic and heart-wrenching of trials.
“You have to have the stomach for it, and you have to be willing to stay in the kitchen when there is a lot of heat,” she says of her profession. “You can’t be easily affected.”
Alison knows from media and public scrutiny. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Pasadena Recovery Center, a 98-bed drug and alcohol treatment center which she co-founded in 2000 with her father, the renowned psychiatrist Dr. Lee Bloom. Pasadena Recovery Center’s residential treatment program is the home of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which gets viewers’ (and non-viewers’) dander up, season after season.
Of her famous father, who dreamed of a facility that could help people affordably, and with dignity, she says, “He wanted to treat people from Yale to jail, from Park Place to park bench. That was his motto.”
Now, it’s Dr. Drew Pinsky who absorbs the media heat from his intense sessions with celebs on the mend (including some who did not do as well, like the late actor Jeff Conaway, who succumbed to his addictions).
On Dr. Drew, Alison says he’s the real deal: “When there are no cameras, and when there is no newsmaking to be had, he is there. If he has a client in Pasadena, he will come without fanfare, and work with them and treat them and talk to them. He is a mensch of a person. He is a decent human being. And he happens to be a very effective clinician and doctor. He shares many of the same values that my dad did.”
There is an unofficial jury rushing to judgment about the series and Dr. Drew himself, and Alison explains it this way.
“Whenever you have someone who is in the media, you are always going to have someone who is going to scrutinize whatever you are doing. You just have to expect that there are going to be critics. And you combine that with the fact that so much of addiction is associated with shame and closeting and ‘don’t talk about it.’ The fact is that Drew and my father brought those things to light; people need to understand that there is a way out of addiction and that this should be publicly discussed. But it brings criticism.”
In other words, we’re all humans first, maybe even mammals. As a mother of three, Alison is quite the people person when it comes to being wild about trials.
“When it’s a tough case, I do have to look at it from a parents’ perspective,” she says. “I’m a mom first.”
Find out more about Alison and get the Wild About Trial app here.