Joining the already popular shows of the Chicago franchise – Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire and Chicago Med – Chicago Justice is completing the
Dick Wolf, the TV mastermind behind shows like Law & Order, is expanding his massive resumé with this legal drama, which follows a dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators as they navigate difficult city politics while pursuing justice.
Chicago Justice follows prosecutor Peter Stone (Philip Winchester), the ambitious deputy chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau. Relentless in his quest for justice, for him it’s more than a job – it’s a purpose. The son of renowned New York City District Attorney Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty), Stone is shooting at a target that only he can see.
This often puts him in direct conflict with Mark Jefferies (Carl Weathers – yes, that Carl Weathers), the Cook County state’s attorney who sees the world through a political lens. While Jefferies believes that a good prosecutor gives the jury and the public a clear, clean, and digestible narrative, Stone is convinced the law isn’t best served in a sound bite.
Together with the rest of their team, Stone and Jefferies strive to bring much-needed justice to Chicago. Global News caught up with some of the Chicago Justice cast, along with Wolf, at the Television Critics Association winter session and they filled us in on some details about the show.
Justice is the brain of the Chicago franchise.
Wolf always thought one aspect was missing from the Chicago franchise: the legal arm. With Justice, it feels complete.
“I’ve described to other people that the four shows are a joy because it’s kind of like the human body – Fire is the crotch, P.D. is the muscle, Med is the heart, and this show is the brain,” he said.
As for why he didn’t name the series “Chicago Law,” he didn’t want it lumped in with that other little show, Law & Order.
“Chicago Justice, not ‘Chicago Law,’ for the simple reason that they are very different shows,” he explained. “I didn’t want them compared directly because there is not the bifurcated structure of Law & Order, but any comparisons are welcome. I think that the two shows are two of the smartest shows that have been on television over the past 30 years.”
In Chicago, politicians are celebrities.
Forget actual celebrities – in Chicago, the biggest names are the politicians. Rocky star Carl Weathers, as the state’s attorney, fits that bill perfectly with his tempered bravado and onscreen charisma.
“The interesting thing about that position in Chicago is that the state’s attorney, Mark Jefferies, is the second-most powerful person in the city,” said executive producer Michael S. Chernuchin. “In L.A., you see celebrities walking down the street, you see movie stars walking down the street. In Chicago, their celebrities are the politicians. So this man is a big deal when he goes out to a restaurant, when he walks down the street, and a lot of his positions in the show go through that prism [of] representing the city.”
Weathers agrees that Jefferies is in a position of power, but ultimately he’s all about the law.
“[Jefferies] has to be interested in doing the job to stay in the job. And, of course, I guess his aspirations are beyond that,” said Weathers. “I can see him absolutely being the man who [wants to be] mayor, and then perhaps moving on to governor, and then there are larger positions in the political landscape that he might move into. But, right now, I see Mark Jefferies as a guy who is really committed to his job, in doing right, living up to the letter of the law whenever he can.”
You’ll be able to catch your favourite Chicago stars on Justice.
Rejoice, Chicago franchise fans! All of the crossovers you’ve imagined in the past may just come to fruition.
“Every episode so far… see, the way that the state attorney gets a case is typically after the police have made an arrest,” said Chernuchin. “And then the state’s investigators put the case together in order to give it to the state’s attorneys to try a case. So a lot of times there are interactions. I think in almost every show, there’s at least somebody from Fire, Med, or P.D. in the episode. Not as a crossover, but more as an integration.”
The legal cases deal with modern-day issues.
With the advent of social media, things got much more complicated, especially when it comes to matters of the law. Justice does its best to keep up with the times, without sounding ridiculous.
“The incredible thing about [the show] being so modern is that we’re dealing with technology, which has a huge impact on the way we live our lives, and we have a whole episode that deals with it,” says Monica Barbaro, who stars as Anna Valdez, the assistant state’s attorney. “Are people allowed to use their phones to commit – to help them commit – a certain crime? It’s very relevant. Or if someone’s videotaped themselves on Snapchat and has saved a video, is it admissible? I mean, that must be what’s going on in the courtrooms these days, and so it’s really interesting to see that work its way in.”
Chicago Justice totally abides by the law (duh).
According to Wolf, in its 20 years on the air, Law & Order never received a single call about any legal inaccuracies. The veteran producer is hoping that Chicago Justice can follow that same path.
“[Dick Wolf said to me], ‘Look, I can promise you the words are going to be good,’ and they are amazing and it’s a huge learning curve,” said Winchester, who says he’s more comfortable jumping out of helicopters and punching people in the face during his roles, rather than playing a cerebral lawyer. “I mean, we have Jack O’Malley, the retired state’s attorney for Cook’s County in Illinois. He’s our go‑to guy and we can come to him with our problems.”
“We can come to him with basic things like, ‘Would we stand now? Would we sit now?’ And every episode, because we have different writers, some of which have been actual attorneys, we’re challenged with the dialect. They’re challenging us with the language.”
Winchester adds that if you’re upset with the outcome of an episode, don’t blame him – it’s the law.
“Sometimes people are going to be incredibly upset with the outcome, and sometimes they’re going to be really happy,” he said. “So if we can have half the audience throw their shoe at the television when the show’s over, and half the audience celebrate that decision, I think that’s a really good television show. It’s not black and white. It’s grey. And that’s the world we live in, and we need to portray that as honestly as we can.”
‘Chicago Justice’ premiered on March 1, and now moves to its regular timeslot on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global.