We're loath to bang on about that show we all liked, but if it whetted your appetite for procedural law podcasts, here's something from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Breakdown was directly inspired by Serial, and there are surface similarities - Season 1's seven-part series is an in-depth exploration of a murder and arson case, in which the convicted person continues to insist on his innocence. But it's a different sort of beast, and not just because the circumstances of the crime are clearer (though it's still a puzzle, peopled with nefarious characters). More than the crime itself, this story is concerned with an over-stretched, under-resourced, unaccountable justice system, and how easily someone can fall through its cracks.
In each series, the show explores a criminal case in which the justice system appears to be failing. Season 1 investigated the unlikely murder conviction of a poor, disadvantaged man, and the enormous workloads under which public defenders attempt to operate. Season 2 turns in a different, no less affecting direction: toddler Cooper Harris died when his father, Justin, forgot to drop him off at daycare, leaving Cooper trapped in the car over the course of a long, hot day. At least, that's Justin's story. The state says he did it on purpose and he's on trial for murder. Though evidence of premeditation is thin on the ground, the waters are muddied by Harris' icky behaviour in other ways; he is a serial cheater who spent the day of his son's death sexting multiple women who were not his wife.
Host Bill Rankin is a senior journalist for the AJC, long familiar with the Chapman case. Early in the piece, he tells us, “I’m no Sarah Koenig. I’m used to writing stories, not speaking them.” It's an unnecessary disclaimer, because his storytelling is warm and well-paced and only helped by a lilting Southern accent; it kind of feels like you've just run into him, in some small-town bar, in some distant place.
[This is an amalgamation of two reviews, from Issue 8 & Issue 38]