In 2001, CBS debuted The Guardian, a drama about a young superstar lawyer who escapes disbarment by assisting his local children’s legal services office. Leading character Nick Fallin learns to move between two parallel universes as he works off his drug conviction while continuing to help his father in their corporate firm.
In season two of the show, which is set in Pittsburgh, fans saw Nick hiring hotshot criminal defense attorney Clay Simms (played by Mark Kiely) into the firm of Fallin & Fallin. Simms, based on widely known New York City lawyer Joe Tacopina, soon takes on the same type of high-profile cases that have distinguished the career of his real-life counterpart.
Tacopina, principal in the Madison Avenue law offices of Tacopina Seigel & Turano, P.C., captured public attention early in his career for his ability to connect with juries and argue and win cases thought unwinnable by many of his peers. Among his best-known clients are one of the “Morgue Boys,” whom police accused of running a drug-money operation, and Thomas Wiese, one of the New York City police officers charged with assaulting Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in the late 1990s.
With a lovingly re-created Pittsburgh as its backdrop, The Guardian brought viewers a series of gritty and well-written story lines and a memorable cast of characters until its cancellation in 2004.