Open and Shut Case

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"It seems like an open-and-shut case... or is it?"

A line heard far too often in episode descriptions.

There's many variations of this ubiquitous Crime And Punishment trope, so we'll just give one:

We've got a defense lawyer with blonde highlights. She's a hot, young version of Perry Mason. One day, she gets a call from her friends in the Deep South. A black guy is only a few weeks away from the ultimate vaccination, which will stop him from getting any illnesses ever again by virtue of being dead. It seemed like (here's those dreaded words again) an "open-and-shut case":

Mr. Smith's wife and three children were found horribly murdered. Mr. Smith was arrested by the police, his shirt covered in his daughter's blood. He confessed, was tried and was sentenced to a permanent cure to his problems.

The lawyer investigates the case. She finds out that the Corrupt Hick sheriff was responsible, the confession was obtained under duress and the blood was from him cradling his dying daughter.

This one still gets going because forensic evidence, even today, is subject to interpretation.

Examples of Open and Shut Case include:
  • In The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, Inspector Lestrade believes he's got this trope concerning the case in question, citing all the evidence at hand as why. Sherlock Holmes however, discovers he wrong exactly because of all the evidence at hand: the evidence was invented so Lestrade would finger the wrong perp.