Picturing Justice

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					    Picturing Justice

The on-line journal of law and
       popular culture

    Issue 3 - 1999

       John Denvir
       Paul Joseph
       Rob Waring


Silverscreen Articles:

Law’s Shadow by John Denvir

Personal Politics by John Denvir

Return of the Heroic Lawyers . . . and the Heroic Clients: The
Winslow Boy and The Castle By Michael Asimow

Mamet’s The Winslow Boy: Traps and Loopholes by Chris Jackson

How Zealous is Too Zealous? And Are Zealous Defenders of the
Guilty Truly Devil’s Advocates? : A Discussion of the Movie The
Devil’s Advocate, and Why I Will Never Practice Criminal Law
by Kristen M. Lynch

Analyze This! John Grisham's Lawyers Form a Megafirm by
Michael Asimow

Twelve [More] Angry Men by Ramon Palacio

Small Screen Articles:

From Baltimore to Providence: It’s Farther than You Think
by Chris Jackson

The Music of Inner Justice in Ally McBeal by Chris Jackson

Don't Call Me 'Ally' by Lisa Friedman

Severed Heads on the Practice By Professor Michael Asimow
 Law’s Shadow by John Denvir                    Novak) he is hired to follow. He has been
                                                told by her husband that Madeleine has
                                                threatened suicide and Scotty earnestly
                                                tries to save her from that fate, but he is

I    used to listen to a radio show when I
    was a boy which began with a deep
    bass voice saying, ―Who knows what
evil lurks within the hearts of men? The
                                                unsuccessful. When she does die, he
                                                blames himself for her death and falls into
                                                deep depression.
Shadow knows.‖ Movies know, too. Films            A year later he sees a young woman on
make the human psyche visible as heroes         the street who looks like a working–class
and villains act out scripts we already         image of his lost love. He follows her to
have in our imaginations; they give us a        her hotel where she claims to be Judy
glimpse of the human psychology behind          Barton, a salesgirl in a San Francisco
law-breaking–and law–making.                    department store. He asks her out. Here
                                                the sadism begins. Hitchcock changes the
  Alfred Hitchcock‘s Vertigo is a good          perspective of the film from that of Scotty
example of film revealing the ―darker‖          to that of Judy, his new "love." But the
side of human nature. When we first meet        audience quickly sees that Scotty has no
"Scotty" Ferguson (James Stewart) we            interest in Judy other than in recreating
immediately recognize him as a man who          her in the image of the dead Madeleine.
puts a premium on "control" in his life.        Accordingly, we see from Judy's
Not a surprising personality trait in a         perspective his badgering need to change
former lawyer who is now a retired San          her hair color, her hair style, her clothes,
Francisco police detective. Scotty has          every detail of behavior which allows her
little interest in life, and less in sex. His   to be herself. No excuse can stop him
only friend is Midge (Barbara Bel               from bending her towards the goal of
Geddes), whose painfully obvious love for       recreating his necrophiliac fantasy.
him he ignores; in fact, the only sexual
interest he exhibits is the mixture of            Eventually he discovers that she is in
fascination, fear and disdain he                fact his lost love, and that he has been the
demonstrates in inspecting a bra he finds       victim of a ruse to conceal a murder.
in her apartment.                               Despite her relative innocence and pleas
                                                that she has risked discovery only because
  Scotty seems a harmless, if lonely, man,      she so loves him, Scotty finds no
but Hitchcock shows us that he has the          forgiveness within himself and hounds
potential to become a sadist, a monster         Judy to her death.
whose need to remake the world and
people in the image of his fantasies leads        Scotty's sadistic treatment of Judy is
to violence.                                    even more troubling when we consider
                                                how he got involved with her as Madeline
  During the first hour of the film, Scotty     in the first place. He took the job of
forms an erotic attachment to a frosty          following her, not for the money, but
blonde aristocrat named Madeleine (Kim          because he was intrigued by the story told
about her and wanted to solve the             criminal acts perpetrated by the
mystery; then he became protective of her     protagonists in A Simple Plan, it is only
as a lost innocent whom he wanted to save     because I can identify with their greed
from a suicidal fate. Finally, he became      that I find the movie engrossing. On the
sexually obsessed with her. So we see the     other hand, it would be a mistake to
Madeleine/Judy transformed in Scotty's        accept films like Vertigo and The
mind from a piece in an intellectual          Searchers as accurate social reportage,
puzzle, to an innocent victim, to romantic    proof of an incontrovertible sexism and
love, to sexual icon, to duplicitous fraud,   racism which poisons the white male
to object of revenge. Yet all along it was    psyche. This view confuses fiction with
just working–class Judy Barton, a woman       reality.
Scotty never knew at all.
                                                I think watching films like Vertigo and
  This phenomenon of a male a character       The Searchers should convince us that, no
setting out to "save" a woman only to end     matter how many times your Torts
up as her executioner is not limited to       professor told you otherwise, there is no
Vertigo or to Hitchcock. We see a similar     such thing as the ―reasonable person‖; we
phenomenon in John Ford's The                 are all affected by unconscious
Searchers. Ethan Edwards (John Wayne)         motivations which color our social
shows us a similar transformation from        interactions.    Most      likely    these
savior to sadist in his actions towards his   unconscious motivations are even stronger
niece Debbie (Natalie Wood). The young        when sex and/or race are involved.
pre- pubescent Debbie has been kidnaped
by red Indians and the "search" starts as       The New England Journal of Medicine
an attempt to rescue her, but as the years    recently published a study which showed
pass and it becomes clear that she has        that when patients of different races and
become a woman cohabiting with an             sexes all reported the same symptoms to
Indian warrior, the object of the search      doctors, they received radically different
changes from saving Debbie to                 diagnoses. The white male patients were
exterminating her because her ―purity‖        selected for the highest quality care. I
has been polluted by sleeping with a          don‘t think this means these doctors were
nonwhite.                                     ―racists‖ or ―sexists‖ in any active sense
                                              of those words, but it does appear that
  In both films, the audience recognizes      they unconsciously attributed greater
that the protagonists are being driven by     ―value‖ to white male patients.
factors beyond their control, or even
conscious knowledge. How should we              The Supreme Court decided a case a
react to films like these? Are they telling   few years ago which made the same point.
us something of value? Some say we            The plaintiff was an African-American
should      treat    movies     as    mere    who had been convicted in Georgia of
entertainments with no connection to          murder and sentenced to death. He
―real‖ life. But this seems a short-sighted   challenged his conviction on the theory
view. The reason we are attracted to film     that racial motivation had influenced the
narratives is because in some sense we        white prosecutor‘s decision to ask for the
identify with the characters‘ emotions. For   death penalty and the white jury‘s
instance, while I would never commit the      decision to vote to inflict it. In support of
his suit, his lawyers presented a              sentence. One senses that the Court felt
sophisticated statistical study which          that accepting the existence of
showed that a black man accused of             unconscious racial motivation would
killing a white was eight times more           somehow undermine the public‘s belief in
likely to receive the death penalty in         the neutrality of the law. It would be
Georgia than a white who killed a black.       reassuring to believe that unconscious
The study was entirely consistent with         racial prejudice doesn‘t affect our justice
The New England Journal of Medicine            system from top to bottom just as it would
study; a white life was just considered        be reassuring to believe that it was mere
more valuable.                                 coincidence that the unarmed man the
                                               New York police shot forty-one times was
  This, of course, does not mean that the      a minority. But we do know that it is not
prosecutors or juries in Georgia were          true. The interesting question is not
―racist‖ in the sense of consciously           whether unconscious racial sexual
applying different standards on the basis      prejudice exists, but what we, including
of race, but it does seem likely that racial   the Supreme Court, are willing to do
stereotypes unconsciously influenced their     about it. Because, no matter how strident
decision.                                      the Court‘s denials, the Shadow knows.

  The Supreme Court rejected the
plaintiff‘s study and upheld his death


    Personal Politics By John                     The main protagonist is Jim McAllister
                 Denvir                        (Matthew Broderick), who is a "popular"
                                               history teacher, three-time winner of the
      ip O‘Neill was famous for the            "best teacher award." "Mr. M" (as he is

T     aphorism "All politics is local." In
      his film "Election," Alexander
Payne adds a new twist, "All politics is
                                               called) is a "good citizen" type. He drives
                                               a beat-up Ford Fiesta to school where he
                                               explains the difference between "ethics
                                               and morality" to students who have
                                               arrived in Lexuses. He roots hard for the
   The plot surrounds an election for          school football team and tries even harder
student body president at Carver High in       to impregnate his mousy wife. McAllister
Omaha, Nebraska. Four main characters          is fond of telling us how lucky he is; that‘s
carry the narrative load. Each is the object   always a bad sign.
of Payne‘s satire; yet he never reduces
them to cartoon characters; each is shown         His nemesis is Tracy Flick (Reese
to have his or her own understandable          Witherspoon), a tight little bundle of
motivations. That‘s what makes the film        blonde energy who is determined to win
so scary.                                      the election for student body President, a
                                               post which she sees as a stepping stone to
                                               . . . well, Elizabeth Dole is one of her
                                               heroes. Tracy is from a one-parent family
short on cash, but long on ambition. She          wannabe workaholic to pad his or her
represents what we might call the "good           resume. She has the "outsider‘s" talent for
white trash" tendency in American                 detecting hypocrisy and cant which seems
politics. Richard Nixon was its perfect           to escape "insiders" like her brother and
embodiment. There is no attempt at                McAllister.
glamour or wit; Tracy expects to win
because she‘s smarter and works harder               The election comes down to the wire.
than anyone else. No one had better get in        Mr. McAllister suspects but cannot prove
her way; certainly not a wishy-washy              that Tracy has engaged in some unethical
liberal history teacher. It‘s a great virtue of   campaign practices. To stop her, he
the movie, and of Witherspoon‘s                     engages in some unethical behavior of
performance, that Tracy is never                  his own; in counting the ballots, he
demonized. She knows that somehow all             intentionally fails to count two votes cast
her victories are not adding up to                for her, making Paul the winner. However,
happiness. It‘s not easy to "like" Tracey,        his ethical lapse is discovered, and he is
but her candor, intelligence, and grit            fired. It turns out this is not his only
command respect.                                  ethical (or is it moral?) lapse; he has also
                                                  had an abortive affair with friend,
   McAllister has a "thing" about Tracy.          Novotny‘s ex-wife, which she reports to
Maybe it‘s because she had an affair with         McAllister‘s wife.
McAllister‘s former colleague and friend
Dave Novotny, an affair which ended with            At the end, the characters regroup. Tracy
Novotny losing his job and Tracy running          is victorious, but still vaguely unhappy.
for student body president. Maybe it‘s            Paul is still rich, happy, sweet, and
because he fears he will suffer the s6ame         clueless. Tammy is sent to a Catholic
fate if she‘s elected and he continues as         girls‘ school where she falls in love with
faculty advisor to the student government.        another girl who may or may not be a
In any case, he convinces Paul Metzgler           lesbian. McAllister is fired, and divorced
(Chris Kein) to run against Tracy. Paul is        by the mousey wife.
both the quarterback of the football team
and the son of a rich industrialist. He has         "Election" is billed as a "dark comedy."
all the easy going charm that comes in            Clearly, it‘s not an "uplifting" experience
America with athletic ability backed by           as film reviewers use that term. Jim
money. Paul is a pretty sweet guy, but            McAllister is not Rocky Balboa. Still, I
dumb as a post. Paul likes everyone, even         don‘t see "Election" as being "down"
Tracy, and that‘s a fatal flaw in politics.       about life. It‘s true that most of the
                                                  characters seem destined to obsessively
  Paul‘s younger sister Tammy also enters         repeat the same neurotic patterns. Tracy
the race. Tammy is "not a lesbian or              will always be successful and vaguely
anything," but admits that she only is            lonely. Paul will always be rich, happy,
sexually attracted to girls. Her motivation       and clueless, and Tammy will always split
is revenge on an old girl friend who is           her time between exposing the hypocrisy
now going steady with Paul. She provides          of the world and finding one more true
the ironic view in the story. Her campaign        "soulmate."
is based on the premise that the election is
meaningless anyhow, just a way for some
   But McAllister has broken the cycle of         But McAllister gets a second chance. He
karma; he‘s escaped from a bad situation       moves to New York, gets a job as a
and hopefully has learned some lessons         teaching guide at the Natural History
we could all benefit from. What are they?      Museum, and meets an attractive non-
First, don‘t mistake proximity for             mousey woman. Of course, he‘s not free
intimacy. McAllister thinks because he         of Tracy. He‘ll probably meet her in the
spends a lot of time at Carver High that       guise of Director of the Museum just as he
his colleagues and students love him. But      will meet Paul as a member of the Board
they don‘t love him; they love "Mr. M."        of Directors, and Tammy as a colleague
who plays a certain secondary role in their    always exposing the hypocrisy of her
lives. As soon as he deviates from the         superiors. These are personality types
institutional script, they quickly abandon     which are always with us. What can
him. The principal fires him; a former         change is how McAllister deals with
student spits on him. To them he was           them. A little less smug in his own moral
important as a personae, not as a person.      (or is it ethical?) virtue, he might be a
But, then again, he did the same thing         little more savvy in dealing with world. In
when his friend was fired. Out of sight,       fact, maybe that‘s what politics needs.
out of mind. You could say the same thing      There‘s a need in any organization for
about his wife. She saw him as a partner       Tracy‘s energy, Paul‘s sweetness, and
in the pursuit of the middle class dream.      Tammy‘s irony. The genius of leadership-
She would give him warmed over dinners         I‘m talking giants like FDR and LBJ- is
with polite conversation; he would give        the ability to take individual neuroses and
her a child. He violated the agreement and     channel them into productive common
paid the price. He could use some of           action.
Tammy‘s skepticism.
   Secondly, innocence--or at least naivete-
- is vice. McAllister‘s problem was that he
took everything at face value. Not aware
of his own non-altruistic motivations, he‘s
easy prey to those, like Tracy, Tammy, and
his putative lover Linda who realize that
we all have ulterior motives. In fact, it‘s
not clear if his downfall was caused by an
"ethical" lapse, or by his own
incompetence in "stealing " the election.
Maybe his real moral flaw was not
"stuffing" the ballot box to stop Tracy, but
bungling the job. "Dirty tricks" are a well-
established tradition in American politics.
After all, many believe that Kennedy beat
Nixon in 1960 because the Democrats
stole more votes in Chicago than the
Republicans did in Southern Illinois.
Tracy would have gotten the job done.
                                                   Rejoice, pop culture fans: heroic
                                                lawyers, and their sidekicks, heroic
                                                clients, have returned from the grave. In
                                                David Mamet's brilliant and inspiring new
                                                film The Winslow Boy, the central
                                                characters are a truly heroic lawyer, Sir
                                                Robert Morton, and two heroic clients,
                                                Arthur Winslow and his daughter
RETURN          OF    THE   HEROIC              Catherine. The central character in The
LAWYERS       . . . AND THE HEROIC              Castle is a heroic client, Darryl Kerrigan,
CLIENTS:       THE WINSLOW BOY                  who wins a smashing victory with the
AND THE        CASTLE     By Michael            help of a public-spirited lawyer.
                                                The Winslow Boy

W          hat happened to the heroic
           movie lawyers of yesteryear,
           now that we need them so
much? Where have you gone, Atticus
                                                  Ronnie Winslow is expelled from the
                                                Royal Naval Academy for stealing and
                                                cashing a five shilling postal money order.
Finch? We‘ll never forget how you went          Ronnie, who is only 14, declares his
to the limit for a falsely accused black        innocence to his father Arthur. Arthur
man in To Kill a Mockingbird. How we            Winslow is determined to clear Ronnie's
miss Clarence Darrow, standing up for the       name, at all costs to the family. The
first amendment in a sweltering Tennessee       British bureaucracy is unyielding;
courtroom in Inherit the Wind. Heroic           Ronnie's guilt seems certain. The
lawyers have become an endangered               circumstantial evidence against him seems
species in films of the last twenty years.      overwhelming. In the eyes of the
They've mostly been replaced by such            Admiralty, the idea of reopening the case
disgusting characters as John Milton in         is utterly unthinkable.
Devil's Advocate or Fletcher Reade in
Liar Liar.                                        Arthur persuades Sir Robert Morton to
                                                accept Ronnie's case. Morton is a Member
  Heroic clients are in even shorter            of Parliament and the most famous
supply. Where are the clients who are           barrister in England. To some, the case
willing to bet all their chips on an issue of   might have seemed trivial or hopeless, but
principle, like the humble high school          to Sir Robert, it presents issues of
biology teacher in Inherit the Wind who         surpassing importance. He puts his entire
went to the wall for the right to teach         political and legal career on the line for
evolution, or the general who accepted a        Ronnie Winslow. In the end, Sir Robert
court martial to publicize the Army‘s           pays a high price indeed for serving as
neglect of air power in The Court Martial       Ronnie's champion.
of Billy Mitchell? The ultimate heroic
client and lawyer, of course, was Sir             Morton must first engage in a
Thomas More, who put his life on the line       parliamentary struggle to persuade the
in an unequal struggle with Henry VIII          government to waive sovereign immunity
over the principle of papal supremacy in A      so the case can be heard. The struggle
Man for All Seasons.
between the lad and the government            engaging and admirable character, a
becomes a huge cause celebre in the press     feminist way ahead of her time.
and is discussed everywhere in the
country. Ultimately, the government             The financial costs to the Winslow
yields by issuing a petition of right, a      family of pursuing Ronnie's case are
document inscribed "let right be done."       crushing. Even worse, the case has a
This allows the case to come to trial and     devastating impact on the personal lives
Ronnie finally gets his day in court.         of each member of the family and on
                                              Arthur's health. They are engulfed in
   If Ronnie's case arose today, it would     unwelcome publicity and besieged by the
probably be in the form of judicial review    press. Yet an issue of principle is involved
of the Academy's decision rather than a       and Arthur and Catherine simply will not
trial de novo in court. Morton would have     yield, despite enormous pressure to do so.
argued that Ronnie had been denied due
process because the Academy's inquiry           At first, we thoroughly dislike Sir
process     lacked      basic   procedural    Robert. He seems cold, harsh, totally
protections. The same would be true in        lacking in emotion or empathy. Catherine,
England, since English law has developed      in particular, detests his conservative
solid procedural protections under the        politics and what she sees as his
rubric of natural justice. Moreover,          opportunism. By the end, however, we see
sovereign immunity would be no defense.       an entirely different side of Sir Robert.
The idea that the King can do no wrong        Even Catherine, who lost her fiance over
has long since been discarded in actions      the Winslow case, begins to realize that
seeking judicial review of the actions of     she has gravely underestimated him. And
governmental bodies.                          so Sir Robert turns out to be an admirable
                                              person as well as a crafty and skillful
  Perhaps the best part of The Winslow        attorney.
Boy is its focus on what happens to the
Winslow family during the long struggle         The Winslow Boy is a remake of a
with the government to bring Ronnie's         terrific 1950 film and an oft-performed
case to trial. Arthur Winslow is a middle     1946 play by Terrence Rattigan. All are
class retired banker in poor health with      based on the 1908 case of George Archer-
three children. He has every reason not to    Shee, who like Ronnie Winslow was a
pursue the struggle. After all, Ronnie has    young naval cadet expelled for stealing a
relocated to a new school; why not let the    money order. Archer-Shee's case was
unfortunate     matter    be     forgotten?   taken up by the leading barrister of the
Moreover, on the merits, it looks like the    time, Sir Edward Carson (who later
Academy got the goods on Ronnie, so the       prosecuted Oscar Wilde). As in the film,
case is very much an uphill struggle. But     the case became a subject of tremendous
Ronnie says he didn't do it and Arthur        controversy in England. Carson induced
believes a grave injustice has been done.     the government to grant a petition of right
He is, therefore, prepared to fight to the    that allowed the case to come to trial.
bitter end, regardless of the cost. He is     Archer-Shee was victorious in the trial but
staunchly backed by his suffragette           was killed in World War I.
daughter Catherine, a marvelously
The Castle                                     lawyer in the history of film (but perhaps
                                               the very funniest). Denuto is reduced to
   When I was on sabbatical in Australia a     relying on "the vibes" from Australia's
couple of years ago, I saw The Castle and      famous Mabo decision which recognized
I just loved it. It was a huge box office      aboriginal land claims.
smash in Australia. It is funny--I mean,
really funny. But funny in the best way,         The breakthrough comes when Darryl
like The Full Monty or My Cousin Vinny,        makes the acquaintance of a kindly older
it's affectionate toward its characters and    gentleman who turns out to be a retired
it's about something serious. The Castle       Queen's Counsel, a distinguished barrister
has finally gotten an American                 named Lawrence Hamill. Hamill takes
distribution deal. Don't miss this film.       Darryl's case pro bono to the Australian
                                               Supreme Court. He relies on a provision
   Darryl Kerrigan is a loving family man      in Article 51 of the Australian constitution
deeply attached to his home, even though       providing that a compulsory purchase can
it's right next to the Melbourne airport and   only be on "just terms." Hamill argues
built on toxic waste. Imagine his shock        that acquisition of someone's house for a
when the airport tries to acquire it through   freight terminal owned by a multinational
compulsory purchase ("eminent domain"          corporation is not "just terms," regardless
in American lingo) to expand the freight       of the fairness of the price to be paid for
terminal. He decides to fight back on the      the property. Needless to say, this is not
theory that "a man's home is his castle."      good constitutional law in Australia or
As obstinate as Arthur Winslow, Darryl         anyplace else, but it sounds great in the
fights his way through four layers of the      film. Indeed, like the denouement in The
Australian administrative justice system       Winslow Boy, it is downright inspiring.
regardless of the costs.
                                                 The Winslow Boy and The Castle bring
  The second stage is Australia's              the heroic lawyer and the heroic client
Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This is       front and center. Both involve pigheaded
an institution unique to Australia. It's an    clients who found great lawyers willing to
independent      body      that   provides     fight for a principle, however silly that
adjudicatory       hearings     for      all   principle might seem to others. These
administrative agencies (unlike the            films are events for celebration, even if
American or British system in which each       Sir Robert and the Winslows, and
administrative agency provides its own         Lawrence Hamill and the Kerrigans are
hearings). Representing himself, Darryl's      from lands far away and (in the case of
legal argument is that the law must be the     The Winslow Boy) a time long ago.
same as justice and it isn't just to take      Perhaps if these films are as successful as
away a man's home without his consent.         they deserve to be, filmmakers will once
Needless to say, this argument fails. It's     again see possibilities in making movies
been quite a long time since law and           about great lawyers and great clients.
justice were the same thing.
  At the first judicial review stage, Darryl
is represented by Dennis Denuto,
undoubtedly the single most incompetent
                                               between being trapped in a restrictive
                                               social role and trying to wriggle out.
 Mamet’s The Winslow Boy:
Traps and Loopholes by Chris                     The scene in which Sir Robert Morton
                Jackson                        (Jeremy Northam) interrogates Ronnie
                                               (Guy Edwards) about the alleged theft of
           ichael Asimow‘s         excellent

M          reviews of The Winslow Boy
           and The Castle applaud the
return of heroic lawyers and clients. To be
                                               the postal order further highlights this
                                               potent subtext. After a klieg light
                                               interrogation of Ronnie, Sir Robert agrees
                                               to take the case: The boy is plainly
sure, Arthur Winslow‘s dogged attempt to       innocent. Later, Sir Robert tells Catherine
restore his son‘s reputation presents much     (Rebecca Pidgeon) that his questions held
to admire. Yet I wonder if rejoicing over      a trap and a loophole to test the boy.
The Winslow Boy‘s profiles in personal         Ronnie did not step into the trap, a dead-
heroism is premature. The film has             end, or slip through the loophole, an
garnered mixed reviews both from               escape hatch, as a guilty person would.
professional critics and those in the sticky
seats. David Denby sees the film as             Ironically, Ronnie is the only character
"something created to overawe the              who fails to exercise those human options.
servants" (The New Yorker, 17 May
1999). One filmgoer wrote online "Bring           Ronnie‘s father, Arthur Winslow (Nigel
an alarm clock when you see this movie         Hawthorne), has long ago made peace
because [sic] you might not know when to       with his trap of the upper-class banker‘s
wake up." (The Winslow Boy--                   world. He tells his older son, the black
Entertainment Weekly Movie Review, 15          sheep Dickie, I am no gambler. Arthur‘s
May 1999).                                     life runs on economics, numbers, and
                                               averages, yet he must ask John, the son-
  Aside from a few times when the film         in-law hopeful, for a coin to tip the
bops us over the head with a distinction       deliveryman. Arthur poses all the right
between rightness and justice, Mamet‘s         questions to John about prospects and
The Winslow Boy seems a dark exercise          income. Then he taps his cane for wife
in abstraction. Many viewers may nod off,      and daughter to enter. They inadvertently
seeking escape. However, escape from           make Arthur look foolish, by failing to
untenable roles and situations seems to be     hear his prearranged distress signal.
what this film is mostly about.
Underneath heroic intentions lie the                Arthur‘s many problems with
ambiguous           missteps           and     communication undercut his authority. He
miscommunications that bedevil human           misreads the meaning of the extra glass on
endeavors. A garden gate flapping in the       the tray. He can‘t find his own glasses to
rain first presages that the Winslows‘         read the letter informing them of Ronnie‘s
privileged, hermetic existence is now          expulsion from the Academy. He is
open to the world. Thereafter, the film is     unaware of the notice they receive for the
peppered with images of enclosure or           first appointment with Sir Robert. He
escape. Almost every major character in        can‘t summon the courage to fire the maid
The Winslow Boy shows a conflict               and balance the household budget. He
                                               misses the verdict when it is read in court:
I would like to have been there, he says
wistfully. As the family name suggests,            Asimow notes that At first, we
Win-slow, a gradual victory arrives but it     thoroughly dislike Sir Robert. Certainly
is too understated to cause much               his legend for courtroom finesse and
celebration.                                   Catherine‘s comment about his dead heart
                                               precedes our view of him. When we
  In the end, Arthur wonders what kind of      finally catch a glimpse, Sir Robert is in
statement he should give the reporters and     shirtsleeves struggling to put on his coat.
is told, Whatever you say will have little     He seems considerate about smoking in
bearing on what they write. Arthur starts      front of Catherine and appreciates her
the film wearing basic black and wielding      directness. He is fierce with Ronnie to
his cane as a weapon. He ends up in a          counter Arthur‘s gentlemanly, code-of-
wrinkled suit of beige linen, the cane his     honor questioning. For all his legal
only support. Arthur changes as he             solidity, Sir Robert too slips through
discovers the limits to his trap of money,     loopholes, showboating in court or using
power, and influence.                          his trick of being ill. He dodges the trap of
                                               an unspecified higher position, saying the
   As Arthur contemplates the Bible‘s          robes would not fit. In the closing scene,
wisdom of seven years of good luck             there is some question about whether the
followed by bad, his family members            trick of his illness is real. Exhausted, he
escape their problems through loopholes.       tells Catherine that it is easy to do justice,
For his wife Grace, the trips to court are a   hard to do right.
chance to expand her wardrobe. Arthur
chides her, This isn‘t a cricket match. She      But is the court‘s verdict right? Usually,
comes back with I can‘t wear the same          the guilt or innocence of the accused
dress every day. She pretends to be a          drives a legal film toward its conclusion.
servant, and she revels in her disguise. To    This case lets loose a storm of publicity.
whatever the reporters ask her, she says, I    London is raining souvenir mugs, pencils,
don‘t know nothing. The case gives Grace       and political cartoons (No children. No
a loophole out of her role as proper wife,     pets. No discussion of the Winslow case.).
mother, and organizer of the household.        Yet Ronnie sits, almost irrelevant, at the
                                               center of the concentric circles spun from
  Similarly Catherine escapes marriage to      the trial. Is he a thief? A forger? A liar?
the dreary John. The two are clearly
incompatible. She pulls away when he             Like a good defense lawyer, the film
grabs her for a passionate kiss. Even          cannot press those questions. On the one
Arthur says that she is not acting like a      hand, we have the boy‘s persistent,
person in love. She studies Social             unflinching denials. Ronnie is no smirking
Evil/Social Good when she should be            Macauley Culkin from The Good Son. We
emoting over Lord Byron. Later, we learn       see why Arthur buys the boy‘s innocence.
that John is engaged to a general‘s
daughter. He will be one of those first          On the other hand, Sir Robert‘s
called to the war. Catherine escapes a         questioning lays bare the possibility of
restrictive role as military wife and no       guilt. Ronnie backpedals. He might have
doubt widow. At least now she is free to       practiced the forgery. He meant to say
wear a hat that charms Sir Robert.             deposit, not cash. He can‘t account for
twenty-five minutes. This exchange
provides our most in-depth view of the
case. We never see any courtroom activity
directly, a la Court TV. It seems we are
always in the ladies‘ gallery. Action is
reported, muted, or filtered through a
screen. Even if we could see, would it
help? At one point, Catherine and
Desmond discuss that day‘s proceedings.
Catherine says, The Postmistress restored
the Admiralty‘s case. Desmond, who was
also there, vehemently disagrees. The
facts are locked in a stalemate of

   This film looks at the tangled
motivations of those bringing litigation
and the personal cost of justice. What
does it all add up to?

   Some reviewers have found it ironic that
the previously profane dialogue of Mamet
is missing in The Winslow Boy. But this
film is exactly what we might expect from
the writer-director of House of Cards
(1987) and The Spanish Prisoner (1997).
In its subtle chess game of move/counter-
move, this film dramatizes the missteps
and imperfections of human experience.
The law as an institution mirrors this
imperfect world. Negotiations, plea
bargains, appeals, and re-interpretations
are not loose loopholes, but evidence of
the ongoing resilience of the law. A too
rigid code of behavior is its own dead-end
trap. The true hero of this film is a
responsive legal system.

  The film ends with Catherine accusing
Sir Robert: How little you know about
women. He answers, How little you know
about men. These are useful reminders for
people in the law who must deal regularly
with the complexity of human muddles.

How Zealous is Too Zealous?                    of the alleged victim, it becomes apparent
                                               to Kevin that his client is guilty. Kevin
And Are Zealous Defenders
                                               calls a recess before his cross-examination
of the Guilty Truly Devil’s                    and is forced to make a decision. On the
Advocates? : A Discussion of                   one hand he does not want to lose a case,
the   Movie    The    Devil’s                  but on the other hand he knows that to
Advocate, and Why I Will                       win he must push the envelope to free a
                                               guilty man. This is not an enviable choice.
Never Practice Criminal Law                    Kevin decides to ramp up his defense and
By Kristen M. Lynch                            ultimately frees his client, starting his own
                                               path down the proverbial highway to hell.

        s someone that has been                As I watched this movie I was
        fascinated by the law since my         mesmerized. Someone somehow had
        youth, I have always known that        managed to portray in film my own
one day I wanted to attend law school.         personal anxieties regarding criminal law.
The problem, up until recently, was that I
did not know what kind of law I wanted to         I decided that I was going to use this
practice, but I knew that I did not want to    movie as my paper topic for a seminar I
be a criminal attorney. After seeing the       am enrolled in on "Law and Popular
movie The Devil‘s Advocate, the reasons        Culture". There were several ways to
became crystal clear.                          approach this movie, such as the portrayal
                                               of the devil as an attorney, the obvious
   Growing up watching Perry Mason             parody of Paradise Lost and the references
episodes, I developed a kind of admiration     to The Divine Comedy also known as
for attorneys. They were strong,               Dante‘s Inferno. There is also an
intelligent and always somehow found out       existentialist theme of self-determination
the truth. On that show, the guilty were       throughout the movie, somewhat relating
always found out eventually and the            to free will and the choices that attorneys
innocent were always set free. I think that    are faced with. But as I began researching
is what most of society perceives true         these various themes for my term paper in
justice to be: a world filled with defense     progress, I realized that I was not alone in
attorneys like Perry Mason and                 my anxieties. There are innumerable bar
prosecutors like Warren Burger. In reality,    journal articles that discuss whether it is
the "justice system" has become                possible to be a defense attorney and still
something much more complex, filled            be a moral human being. There are
with technicalities and loopholes.             articles that discuss whether one can be an
                                               attorney at all and still be religious. The
  In The Devil‘s Advocate, Keanu Reeves        main theme of these articles revolves
portrays the character of Kevin Lomax,         around the degree to which we are
ironically a Florida prosecutor turned         required to zealously represent our clients.
defense attorney that has never lost a case.
The film centers on a pivotal decision that      The public has seen in recent years the
Kevin has to make, and the consequences        Menendez Brothers being represented by
of his choice. In the early part of the        Leslie Abramson and O.J. Simpson being
movie, Kevin is shown defending a              represented by Johnny Cochran. There is a
teacher accused of molesting a teenage         public perception that most defense
girl. During the prosecution‘s questioning
attorneys are hired guns that do not care         the senior partner confronted the attorney
about their client‘s guilt or innocence as        assigned to the case and suggested he had
long as they are being paid well. In real         seen her plead more convincingly in
life trials, we as the public are never privy     previous cases. Even the judge in that
to the thoughts of the defense attorneys          episode was shown to feel a moral
regarding their beliefs of the true guilt or      dilemma over the prospect of setting the
innocence of their clients because of             alleged murdered free due to an
attorney client privilege. However, in the        unconstitutional search of his apartment.
movies and on television we can see
behind the scenes. In the 1996 movie                My contention is that all of this points to
Primal Fear, Richard Gere played attorney         an admission that perhaps the structure of
Martin Vail, a Chicago defense attorney           our legal system currently is such that we
that took the case of an alleged murderer         are all faced with unjust outcomes to
because "Everybody will want this one".           protect the idea of fairness. So what is a
Ironically, Vail actually thought there was       defense attorney to do? There appear to
a chance his client was innocent and did          only be four possible outcomes in the
not realize until the end of the trial that his   world of the defense attorney: 1) defend
client really did commit the murder. When         the client as zealously as you would if you
he realized that he had fallen prey to his        knew they were innocent; 2) defend the
client‘s manipulations, he was filled with        client but perhaps not so zealously; 3)
some degree of remorse. This portrayal at         resign from the case; and 4) be more
least represents a view to the public that        careful in your choice of clients. Choice
even hired guns can have a conscience             number one is what Kevin Lomax made
and perhaps suggests the idea that maybe          that led him down the path of moral
the only way that some defense attorneys          destruction. Choice number three is what
can do the job they are paid to do is to,         he made when given a second chance, and
perhaps subconsciously, believe in the            based on the implications of the movie,
innocence of their clients. In a recent           this was not the best choice either. Also,
episode of The Practice, we were also             there have been numerous bar journal
privy to behind-the-scene debates over            articles regarding attorneys resigning from
freeing an accused nun murderer on a              cases and yes, it is a violation of the
technicality.                                     Model Rules of Professional Conduct to
                                                  abandon your client at a crucial point of
  The attorneys did not choose this case as       the trial. What seems to be suggested from
a judge assigned it to them. When they            the myriad of bar journal articles and from
protested, the judge pointed out to them          television and movies are two things: 1)
that they had recently represented                choose your clients carefully, because we
someone who was caught carrying a                 should be held accountable for our choice
severed head with them. The attorneys             of clients, and 2) perhaps the "known
protested and said "but he was innocent!"         guilty" do not merit an overly zealous
The defense attorneys reluctantly took the        defense. There are concessions made that
case and even more reluctantly pointed            no one wants to see anyone denied their
out that there had been an illegal search         constitutional rights, and that everyone
conducted that ultimately revealed the            deserves adequate representation. It does,
body of the dead nun, thus excluding it           however, beg the question of whether we
from evidence. At one point in the show           are truly in court seeking justice or
whether we are merely there to win at all
costs, in effect the means justifying the          For our personal injury plaintiff's
end. In The Devil‘s Advocate the devil‘s         practice, we'll bring back The Rainmaker's
favorite sin was vanity. It is up to us in the   Bruiser Stone from his Caribbean siesta.
legal community to determine whether we          We'll also invite his paralawyer, Deck
are all in it for the personal win and our       Shifflet, who taught us so much about the
egos . . .or for justice, and whether we are     niceties of ambulance chasing. For
willing to become an advocate of the devil       general business litigation, we've got
in the process.                                  those lovable fellows from The Partner
                                                 who think nothing of committing massive
                                                 fraud on the government and cutting one
                                                 another out of the fees. This is the kind of
                                                 get up and go we can really use.
GRISHAM'S LAWYERS FORM                             And now--we've got a probate
A MEGAFIRM by Michael                            department! The lawyers from Grisham's
                                                 newest book Testament, are vicious
                                                 sharks. They know how to boost the
                                                 hourly rates (as high as $600 per hour)

L      ast night I dreamed that I was in a
       big conference room with all of the
       lawyers from John Grisham's
novels and we were trying to form a new
                                                 and they think nothing of paying a key
                                                 witness to testify falsely.
                                                 Of course, a few of Grisham's lawyers
                                                 won't be welcome in our new firm. We're
law firm. It looks like we've got most of        inviting them to leave the conference
the bases covered.                               room now. For example, Rudy Baylor of
                                                 The Rainmaker is too idealistic. But after
  For our tax department, we'll pick up the      all, this chump was straight out of law
terrific lawyers from Bandini, Lambert &         school and didn't know how to practice
Locke, so well described in The Firm.            real law. I don't think there'll be room for
These lawyers are untroubled by any              Darby Shaw whom we met as a law
notions of tax ethics; indeed, they won't        student in The Pelican Brief. Darby just
let our clients pay any taxes at all.            won't play along with normal strategy in
Besides, they'll kill anybody who tries to       environmental cases like assassinating
leave the firm. Maybe Mitch McDeere              inconvenient Supreme Court justices or
will return with his superb client skills        law professors. Besides, Rudy has left the
and stolen money. For our personal injury        practice and Darby never finished law
defense practice, we'll pick up the              school. Neither did Nicholas, the
insurance defense lawyers from The               resourceful jury fixer in The Runaway
Rainmaker and the tobacco defense team           Jury. Ellen Roark from A Time to Kill is
from The Runaway Jury. They won't                probably done with law school by now,
hesitate to commit all manner of                 but she seems to believe in justice, so has
discovery abuse and jury tampering. For          no place in our new firm.
our real estate department, we'll join up
with those swell guys described in The             There will be no room in this law firm
Street Lawyer who never hesitate to throw        for lawyers who want to work for nothing.
helpless people out of their homes with          So tell Reggie Love to forget about
fraudulent unlawful detainer actions.
joining. After all, in The Client, Reggie     justification). He executes a holographic
represented this kid without getting paid.    will cutting them off just before diving out
And so long Adam Hall; you wasted many        the window. The will leaves his fortune to
billable hours trying to get your granddad    a previously unknown illegitimate
off Death Row The Chambe and didn't get       daughter who is a missionary in Brazil.
paid a dime. We certainly won't welcome       The legitimate kids hire lawyers to contest
those fools in The Street Lawyer who          the will. The lawyers (and their clients)
work for peanuts for homeless people.         are as nasty a group of hyenas as have
None of that sort of pro bono nonsense in     ever appeared between hard covers. An
our new firm! I don't think Jake Brigance     attorney with severe alcohol problems sets
from A Time to Kill will be interested (he    out to find the missing heir and has
actually cares about his clients and works    adventures in Brazil. That's about it. Save
without a retainer), though his buddies       your money.
Harry Rex Vonner and Lucien Wilbanks
would fit right in. In fact, Harry Rex          Now a will contest, featuring spoiled
might be just perfect for the head of our     rotten children represented by greedy
family law department.                        lawyers, can make for a wonderful book.
                                              Witness David Margolick's Undue
  So what's with Grisham, anyway? He          Influence about the Seward Johnson
seems to hate lawyers, particularly if they   donnybrook, a book with infinitely greater
are trying to make a living practicing law.   nuance, better plot, and far more
In book after book, practicing lawyers are    interesting characters than Grisham's
horrible, greedy slime-sucking crooks.        Testament.
Often, they get outfoxed by Grisham's
heroes who tend to be lawyers who are           I woke up from my horrible dream in a
working for little or nothing, or by          cold sweat, relieved that I wouldn't have
untainted law students or fledgling           to hang out with the scummy Grisham
associates. While this theme seems to         lawyers after all. Most of the lawyers I
resonate nicely with the book-buying,         know are decent, hard working,
lawyer-hating public, it has worn very thin   community-minded people, who care
with me.                                      deeply about their clients. Most make a
                                              good but not spectacular living practicing
  Grisham's first book , A Time to Kill,      a tough profession in a harsh, competitive
was quite good. The second, The Firm,         environment. They are neither demons nor
wasn't bad (although it lacked an ending).    saints. Unfortunately, they have no place
After the smashing success of The Firm,       in John Grisham's world.
Grisham kept right on churning out
bestsellers, but they seem hastily dashed            ---------------------------------
off. The plots are thin (really more like
movie concepts). Their unidimensional
characters mouth cardboard dialogue.

  The newly released Testament reads like
a screenplay in progress tricked up as a
novel. It concerns a cranky billionaire
who hates his six children (with much
Twelve [More] Angry Men by                    as each juror attempted to defend his
Ramon Palacio                                 position—about the time it took for a
                                              witness, who walked with a limp, to make
                                              it to the doorway in time to see the

T     his 1997 remake of the 1950s
      classic stars Jack Lemmon in the
      role previously played by Henry
Fonda and includes moving performances
                                              suspect flee; the angle of a stab wound;
                                              the plausibility of the defendant, under
                                              stress, having been at a theater (his alibi)
                                              and yet not recall the name of the movie
from co-stars George C. Scott and Edward
James Olmos, among others.                    or the actors; and, most decidedly, calling
                                              into question a key witness‘s visual acuity,
  The movie opens with the judge nearly       triggered only because a juror recalled
finished charging the jury: ―Murder in the    seeing on the witness‘s nose the
first degree —premeditated murder—is          indentations commonly made from
the most serious charge tried in our          wearing glasses—glasses she wouldn‘t
criminal courts . . . I urge you to           have been wearing just one second after
deliberate thoughtfully and honestly . . .    waking, when she made the critical eye
[the defendant] could face the death          witness identification.
penalty.‖                                     With each new doubt came the question:
                                              Why didn‘t the defendant‘s lawyer raise
  Seconds later, as the jurors are taken      that issue? Lemmon didn‘t think the
back to the jury room, before anyone has      lawyer was doing his job: ―He let too
even had the opportunity to sit down, it      many things go by . . . little things . . .
becomes clear that most jurors have           could mean the lawyer was just plain
already made up their minds. George C.        stupid.‖    Three     possibilities    were
Scott discusses with amazement how            proffered: a) the issue would hurt the
―lawyers can talk and talk and talk . . .     defendant‘s case; b) the lawyer didn‘t
even in a case like this . . . talk about     think of it (read: inept); c) the lawyer
nothing.‖ ―Let‘s get on with it,‖ he adds,    didn‘t want to appear to be badgering the
―we‘ve probably got things to do.‖            elderly witness. But there was also the
Another juror, played by Tony Danza,          underlying theme that everyone, including
makes his lackadaisical attitude equally      the defendant‘s lawyer, was ―too
obvious, as his focus is on making it to a    convinced‖ of the boy‘s guilt.
baseball game that evening. So much for
deliberating thoughtfully and honestly.         What the casual viewer may not recall,
                                              however—I certainly did not—was that
  True to the original, one juror             this story was not as much about truth (we
(Lemmon) refuses to vote guilty without       never learn whether the defendant was
first deliberating, while the others are      guilty or not) as it was about the system
ready to convict and go one with their        itself, and the baggage of prejudices that
lives, convinced that they are in the right   every juror carries with him into the court
and Lemmon in the wrong. In fact, at least    room, and ultimately the jury room.
two jurors readily admit that their minds
were made up since the first day of the         As each juror, previously convinced that
trial. Anyone who saw the original version    the young Hispanic defendant was guilty
will recall how the single hold-out juror     of his father‘s murder, is challenged,
(originally played by Fonda) raised doubts    biases are revealed. One juror becomes so
rattled that his utter hatred just spews        From Baltimore to
forward: ―These people are born to lie . . .
                                                Providence: It’s Farther than
they get all drugged out . . . human life
doesn‘t matter as much to them. These           You Think
Spics . . . there‘s not one of them that‘s      by Chris Jackson
any good. If we don‘t smack them down
                                                        hey‘re over. Two NBC season
every chance we get then they‘re going to
own us . . . breed us out of existence. Let‘s
get him . . . at least one—I don‘t give a
damn about the law.‖ Although this was
                                                T       finales in one night have knocked
                                                        me flat. Homicide: Life on the
                                                Street just aired its last ever episode. This
the most blatant of prejudices, so              penetrating, insightful show about
repugnant to some that they left the room       Baltimore homicide detectives has for
for a while, and those who remained             seven years featured the best writing and
chastised the juror—forcing him to sit          acting on television. An hour earlier,
down and not open his mouth again—              Providence gently drew tears from the
others biases were more covert. In fact, it     collective psyche with its close to the first
was only at the very end that we deduce         year. Homicide is no more; Providence
that Lemmon‘s most ardent foe, Scott, had       has a guaranteed home in next season‘s
been terribly hurt by his own son, and felt     television land. Put those two facts
that the defendant needed to be punished        together, and what do we have?
for even speaking harshly to his father,
something which he equated—with great               You heard it here first, folks.
personal pain—to a stabbing of the heart.       Television‘s view of law and order is
Thus, although Twelve Angry Men leaves          changing. The pendulum of popular taste
one with a sense that the system worked         has begun to swing away from reality-
to some extent—after all, we‘re convinced       based television toward nostalgia from
that there was reasonable doubt (guilt or       thirty years ago. The times, they are a-
innocence aside)— there was also enough         changin‘--back.
to leave one troubled. Was the defendant‘s
attorney corrupt, unmotivated, or just            The show Homicide: Life on the Street
inept? How strongly do jurors‘ prejudices       dramatizes the complex effects of violent
affect the outcome? And what about this         criminal behavior on police investigators.
heated exchange as yet another juror            Quick cuts and triple shots of the same
changed his mind to not guilty? Scott:          gesture intensify the chaos. As may
―We‘re letting him slip through our             happen with real law enforcement
fingers!‖ Lemmon: ―Slip through our             officers, the detectives‘ lives are torn apart
fingers . . . what are you, his                 by the inhumanity they face daily.
executioner?‖ Scott: ―I‘m one of them.‖         Alcoholism and depression are common.
                                                The characters are either not married or
                                                have been divorced numerous times. If
     -------------------------                  married, their home lives are troubled.
                                                Their hearts empty from their profession,
                                                they have nothing to give wives,
                                                husbands, or children.

                                                  This last Homicide episode lays out
                                                several thorny conflicts. Lieutenant
Giardello (Yaphet Kotto) realizes that his     directed by John Masius, Providence now
promotion to captain is meaningless. John      falls consistently in the Top Thirty. It‘s a
Munch (Richard Belzer) gets married.           hit.
Munch and his fiancee state marriage
vows over shots of a white-sheeted corpse        The show opens to a woman singing In
on a gurney. Their marital bliss is short-     My Life: There are places I remember .
lived as Munch shows up at the bar on his      Providence never looked better. When I
wedding night. Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor)        was a kid, the gray Industrial Trust
has a case he can‘t resolve. Due to red-       building dominated the landscape like an
tape delays, the court lets a suspected        old elephant. Homeward-bound from
serial killer go free. Justice is a bitch,     college, I drove 95 south through
Meldrick says (Clark Johnson). Later, Tim      Massachusetts. From the northeast, the
recalls his early days with partner Frank      crooked building looked ready to fall
Pembleton (Andre Braugher). Tim tells          over.
Munch, See, Frank said that I would never
be a good homicide detective because I            This show bathes the old Industrial
didn‘t have the killer‘s instinct. Frank was   Trust Building in a heavenly glow. Aerial
wrong. The suspected serial killer is found    shots of the suburbs are slow-moving and
dead, with no clues on the crime scene.        serene, as if filmed from the basket of a
The viewer draws his own disturbing            hot-air balloon. This is the Providence of
conclusion. Betrayed by the court system,      myth, suffused with the quality of safety
Bayliss enacted his own justice. Life is a     that moved founder Roger Williams to
mystery. Accept it.                            lead settlers to the banks of the
                                               Providence River.
   Tom Fontana wrote this episode. He
also created that rock-hard, now cancelled        Syd Hansen is a West Coast plastic
HBO prison show Oz. Before that,               surgeon who finds her boyfriend in the
Fontana worked on Saint Elsewhere. He          shower with another man. Aghast, she
wrote alongside John Masius. Masius            seeks haven with her family in
went on to add Touched by an Angel to          Providence. In one episode, the boyfriend
his resume. While Fontana fades, Masius        shows up to woo her back. He arrives for
prospers.                                      their date in a limo. When she refuses his
                                               offer, the boyfriend rides up front with the
  One Friday night about a month ago, I        hunky limo driver. That old nautical
made a long-distance call to relatives.        saying is common in Providence--any port
We‘ll call you back, they said. We‘re          in a storm.
watching ‗Providence.‘ The series had
arrived to terrible reviews. Critic Ken          Syd‘s mother (Concetta Tomei) is a
Tucker called the main character Dr.           whisky-voiced angel, literally. Her ghost
Feelbad (Entertainment Weekly, 8 January       appears to Syd in dreams, dispensing
1999). But I grew up in East Providence,       advice on life and love. (My Mother, the
and I was curious. The next week, I set the    Car?) Syd‘s father Jim is a vet, played by
VCR.                                           Mike Farrell, AKA B.J. Hunnicutt on
                                               M*A*S*H. No doubt a future episode
  Providence is a stress-reducing bubble       will feature a visit from Uncle Hawkeye,
bath, and the tub is crowded. Created and
come to play cards and swig cheap gin all    office warns that she too might be under
night with his former buddy.                 surveillance. Syd dreams that she is on
                                             trial. Angel Mother is the judge, a tough
   The unemployed Syd doesn‘t mope           talker like Judge Judy, with absolute
around the house eating Ring-Dings. She      control. All the family members testify
finds a position ASAP in a downtown          against Syd. Judge Mother says, I find
clinic, a former church. No HMO scandals     you guilty.
or malpractice suits here at Saint
Somewhere. Dr. Syd doubles as Mother           In her waking life, Paul sends a limo for
Theresa, saving an adorable adolescent       her. Aha, we think, guilty as she is, she
here, a wonderful baby there. She even       will end up with cement overshoes. The
makes housecalls!                            limo dumps her, not in the Providence
                                             River, but at, gasp, an Italian restaurant,
   A decade of razor-sharp medical and       where she and Paul dance to Andrea
crime shows has taught us to expect the      Bocelli singing Time to Say Goodbye.
worst in the TV universe. This show          The DA has exiled Paul from Providence
confounds our expectations by being too      for his own protection, so his father‘s
nice. Potentially criminal behavior is       criminal activities won‘t tempt him. In
washed away before two scenes can pass.      Providence, when the law plays a role, it‘s
A pre-teen patient who visits Syd is         like the police hauling Beaver Cleaver
reluctant to leave a urine sample. Aha, we   down from the billboard. Instead, the
think. Drugs. The kid returns with a         family is the seat of law and norms.
contaminated sample. It turns out that the   Unchallenged authority resides in the
kid is reporting his mother‘s symptoms as    father and deceased mother.
his own. She is too busy working to seek
medical attention herself. His filial duty       Losing the Mafia son upsets Syd.
even extends to retrieving her urine         Weeping, she asks her father, Dad, I see
sample. I fixed the toilet handle so it      happy couples together. What‘s wrong
couldn‘t flush.                              with me? Because Father knows best, Jim
                                             says, Well, kitten, (maybe he didn‘t really
  Syd messes up giving a spinal tap to an    say kitten, maybe I just misheard) the
infant. Aha, we think. Malpractice.          trick is to keep an open heart to be ready
Instead the father says, We don‘t want you   for the next time. It‘s great to know that
here. His rejection bothers her, so she      Jim is still B.J., the open heart man.
researches the baby‘s symptoms to
uncover an obscure genetic disease and         This show has bedroom scenes, but they
saves the day. The family is so grateful.    all end in pillow fights. We haven‘t seen
When Syd reports a wife abuser to the        this many glowing windows outside a
authorities, we think, aha, he‘s going to    house since The Waltons. Jim suffers from
stalk Syd and seek reprisal for her          full-nest syndrome, a house full of grown
meddling. Instead, he goes peacefully        children who have all screwed up their
with the cops. Nine-on-one? Uh, never        adult lives.
                                               The younger sister Joanie bakes dog
  Syd has a romance with Paul, son of a      goodies and sells them at her Barkery.
reputed Mafia boss. A friend in the DA‘s     (Happy Days? Joanie Loves Chachie?)
She is also an unwed mother. Murphy            is leaving. You are the mother now, she
Brown‘s son Avery, who so shocked Dan          says. Angel Mother packs her bags and
Quayle, disappeared two episodes after         flies off. In real life, while all the Hansens
Murphy gave birth. This baby girl,             wait for Lily to celebrate her new Hansen-
Hannah, gets maximum screen time. We           hood as a nonsmoker, Lily‘s creep of a
see Hannah eating her breakfast, Hannah        boyfriend takes her for a ride in a stolen
being read to at bedtime. But she is cute.     car. A police car smashes into them. Big
                                               explosion. Lily lingers long enough for
   Robbie, the brother, works at a bar         Syd‘s heart-wrenching goodbye. Lily
called "O‘Neill‘s." (My Three Sons?) He        exits. Angel Mother returns. You still need
carries the whiff of prison on him, or         me, Syd.
maybe just reform school. He says if he
had come home and found his girlfriend           Why kill off the poor kid? I come to this
in the shower with another woman, he           chilling conclusion: As an outsider, Lily
would jump in with them. That‘s the            threatens the sanctity of The Family.
difference between you and me, Syd.            Think of the symbolic value of her name.
                                               She has to be sacrificed so The Family
   As if the Hansen family didn‘t have         can be resurrected, reunited in their bond
enough demographic appeal, we have teen        of grief. On another level, the death of
angst from the high-school student Lily.       Lily reenacts the clash between Homicide:
One day, Lily hauls her delinquent self        Life on the Street and Providence. Those
into Syd‘s clinic. Dr. Hansen acts as any      horrible, nihilistic values of Homicide, as
M.D.--she invites Lily to live with them.      represented by the police car, wipe out
The girl‘s primary sin is that she smokes.     Lily, the positive flower of family
(Interestingly, so does Angel Mother.)         nurturing. Subversive, but there it is.

  Marketers don‘t know how to present a           Remember that cloying bubble-gum
show that is too nice. Episode previews        musical trio Hanson? We didn‘t think so.
intimate, Lily burns the house down! Yes,      These Providence Hansens might also
Lily‘s smoking causes one attic curtain, an    mmm-bop their way into oblivion, but I
old one at that, to flare up. The next week,   don‘t think so. In television, imitation is
she is a full-fledged part of the family,      the sincerest way to make a buck. Shows
with Jim/B.J. helping her build a Rube         about the complexities of behavior and
Goldberg contraption.                          challenging norms will give way to shows
                                               about reconstructed life, 1960s and 70s
   Another week, Lily makes all the            style, in cities high on urban renewal. Get
Hansens breakfast and volunteers to sit for    ready for Cincinnati, St. Louis, and
Hannah. Aha, we think. She plans to rob        Boulder (no, scratch that), maybe
them and steal Hannah. Instead, the time       Phoenix. The series Law and Order
for her to be turned over to a foster home     remains, but for how long?
approaches. She wants to stay with them.
They all love her and want her. She‘s one        In 1999, a real political scandal has
of them.                                       outdone even the wildest SNL sketch.
                                               Bombing in Kosovo continues. Boris
  Here‘s what ticked me off about the          Yeltsen    staggers     during      public
season finale. Angel Mother tells Syd she      appearances. Teens shoot their classmates.
A child beauty queen‘s murder remains            instance, questioning woodwinds play
unsolved. The viewing public is hungry           behind suspenseful scenes, and scenes end
for a little nostalgia. But is the sensibility   with dramatic brass flourishes. In the
from thirty-year old shows the answer?           show‘s theme song, the understated low
                                                 brass creeps into a forthright trumpet solo,
                                                 a sort of musical analog to Perry himself,
                                                 a go-ahead, definitive guy. Under this
                                                 musical conflict beat those menacing
                                                 piano triplets. This Cold War-era justice
                                                 takes itself seriously.
The Music of Inner Justice in
Ally McBeal by Chris Jackson                        More recent television shows make
                                                 more complex musical references for
                                                 character      insights    or      thematic

W          hat? Ally McBeal is not a role
           model for future women
                                                 commentary.           Murphy        Brown,
                                                 investigative reporter on FYI and seeker
                                                 of justice, is heavy into Motown. Her
                                                 musical taste echoes her politics and
   John Denvir‘s commentary on Ally
McBeal and Michael Hayes finds Ally to           social values. In Homicide: Life on the
have much in common with Mary Tyler              Streets, Andre Braugher‘s character Frank
Moore. In her essay Don‘t Call Me Ally,          is unwilling to participate in his baby
Lisa Friedman makes a strong case that           daughter‘s baptism. He questions a nun
Ally‘s short skirts and personal trials are      about where to find his lost faith. Back in
no way to win an actual trial. Denvir is         the squad room, Death summons him yet
right about Ally having more to do with          again to a dreary apartment house. There
relationships than the law. Friedman is          he finds a very old woman, dead of
also correct that David E. Kelly‘s "other"       natural causes. Ravel‘s Pavane for a Dead
show, The Practice, presents more                Princess plays on a radio in the
verisimilitude about the legal profession.       background. The music propels Frank to
                                                 an epiphany as he recalls the nun‘s words
    However, Ally‘s character indeed             about finding the sacred in the everyday.
presents a strong "professional in               At that moment, his character receives at
progress" role model. Her courtroom              least a moment of grace, a partial
tactics may be feeble, but she struggles to      restoration of faith.
arrive at truths she can believe in. The
show‘s extensive uses of music direct our           From the extensive uses of music in
attention to how Ally puts herself on trial.     Ally McBeal, it seems that David E.
Ally McBeal is more about personal law,          Kelley has learned from these techniques
finding a balance between professional           and more. Most of the songs we hear on
and private goals, hearing the music of          the show fall into the Classic Oldies
inner justice.                                   category. As Lawrence Kasdan‘s The Big
                                                 Chill showed, recycled hits from the
  Obviously television shows have a long         sixties and seventies have a strong appeal
history of using musical soundtracks,            with baby boomers.
primarily to define the situation, mood,
and style of the show. In Perry Mason, for
  Ally McBeal uses music on many levels        courting ritual than finger licking, hair
to convey truths about living and working      spreading, or knee pit massage. Georgia
in law. The loudest example often comes        and Billy dance close and make up from
last on the show. After working all day as     their argument du jour. The anal retentive
members of the Bar, lawyers from Cage          John Cage can forget "taking a moment"
and Fish practice lifting elbows at another    and discover why he is "drawn" to Nell.
kind of bar. Here, dancing and singing         On a recent show (aired April 19, 1999),
provide a harmony to resolve office            Nell presents The Biscuit with a birthday
conflicts. The law office is upstairs, while   surprise at the bar, a live appearance by
the bar is in the same building on the         John‘s musical idol Barry White.
ground floor. This set-up presents the
metaphor of the well-rounded lawyer,              Office pratfalls show clumsy surface
exercising upstairs logic on cases, and        embarrassments, but dancing is the way to
accessing a more visceral "lower level" to     get in synch psychologically. Ensemble
defuse daily tensions.                         dancing provides a metaphor for the blend
                                               of individualism and teamwork required
   The excellent singer Vonda Shepard          of members in a large practice. In the
appears nearly every week as a bar regular     unisex bathroom, John Cage often bolsters
to provide a free-wheeling, party              his self- confidence by solo dancing to an
atmosphere. Her piano is a versatile magic     inner Barry White rendition. In one
barrel with upbeat rock, soul, and blues on    episode, Richard Fish walks in on John.
tap. Shepard even has her own best-            Instead of reacting with the expected
selling CD featuring songs from the show,      ridicule, Fish joins his law partner in
with a new release just out called By 7:30.    dance. Then Elaine sees the two and falls
In a few episodes, the big-voiced Jennifer     into step with perfectly choreographed
Holliday joins the cast as the Cage and        kicks and turns.
Fish group attends a church with a mostly
African-American congregation. This                We are not surprised at Elaine‘s
situation is similar to when Murphy            participation. She haunts the bathroom,
Brown, the quintessential WASP, tries to       waiting for juicy gossip and sensuous
"get down" singing Natural Woman with          dance moves. Several episodes have
Aretha Franklin. Whereas Aretha ends up        featured a talent show at the bar with all
telling Murphy not to sing so loudly, the      the people from the firm showcasing their
Ally McBeal characters let loose along         talents. Elaine generally coordinates this
with the rest of the congregation. The         effort so she can star. "This show is all
episodes of singing and dancing in the         about me," she says.
church are similar to those in the bar. Both
places are "big tents" of democracy,              But we are surprised when Ling arrives
cathedrals of expansive acceptance.            and adds her high-booted leg to the chorus
                                               line. She will practice law with them, so
   Office grind evolves into bump and          the group also makes room for her in the
grind at the bar. The women employed at        dance. It is noteworthy that Ally has never
Cage and Fish all rock together for            been a member of this musical
girlfriend bonding and to rise above petty     collaboration. More on that later.
squabbles. With their graceful spins, Fish
and Ling display a less idiosyncratic
  Music expresses each character‘s ideal       reminiscent of the Monty Python sketch
for developing a workable personal style.      featuring the Ministry of Silly Walks.
In an episode aired the first season, John
Cage tells Fish to listen for the bells.         To be sure, the scene is comic, but in
When those golden bells ring, the              context, it might be viewed as a metaphor
character is ready, prepared to fight in       for all of The Law. What starts out as an
court with the best defense for the client.    individual aberration, if believed with
For Fish, the bells clunk together more        enough fervency, has the power to change
often than they ring. This clunk has           others. If enough join in, the right
happened so many times, the sound effect       aberration becomes mainstream.
has an additional connotation, less golden
bells than brass balls. This motif fits Fish     For Ally, hearing a smooth music track
perfectly as he blatantly asserts his          in a group of strangers is one thing, but to
masculine power in a way that is never         hear it in the office is quite another. I do
separated from sexual or monetary gains.       not recall any scene in which Ally joins
In one episode (aired April 5, 1999), Fish     her colleagues in a dance number. She
says that getting fees from both sides is      dances, but with the blow-up doll or alone
"music to my ears."                            in her apartment.

  The Biscuit used the bells to supplement       At one point, her solo dance is frantic,
his smile therapy. What began as a parody      almost spastic. She is Nora in Ibsen‘s play
of self-esteem exercises has evolved into a    A Doll‘s House. Then Ally‘s roommate
more poignant search for understanding.        Renee walks in, and the needle shrieks
Tracey Ullman has put in a few star turns      across the track. The "scratching needle"
as Ally‘s wacky therapist recommending         sound effect breaks into her psyche to tell
that each person have a "song" to boost        her that her dream music and reality are
the ego. How can we forget Tracey‘s own        too far apart. Ally‘s budding confidence is
bubbly dancing to her song entitled, of        quashed.
course, Tracy? Tracey‘s flamboyant style
contrasts starkly with Ally‘s feeble               Ally‘s roommate Renee already
attempts to find inner music.                  possesses a powerful inner song. As a
                                               present for Ally, Renee sings a duet with
   Eventually, Ally conjures up I Know         Ally‘s doctor boyfriend Greg Butters at
Something About Love, but it plays in her      the bar. In their luminous, untroubled
head only at half-tempo. Later in the          faces, we see that Renee and Greg are
series, we see the song work its magic,        happy inside the music. They are a better-
and not just on Ally. Ally stands on a         matched couple than Ally and Greg, or
street corner in downtown Boston waiting       Ally and Billy, who have never sung
for the crossing light. She thinks of her      together. The camera pans to Ally‘s
song and falls into the energizing beat.       abandoned place at the table.
Her shoulders shrug, her knees bounce,
and before long, all the folks waiting with       Poor Ally! Whenever she starts on a
her bebop to their inner songs. By the         musical flight of fancy, the needle
time the light changes, the sea of             inevitably scratches across her inner LP.
humanity crosses the street in a scene         She achieves some transcendence dancing
                                               on a wintry street in her sheep-print
pajamas. She cannot feel the snow dance        Ally McBeal‖, my dislike for her
in her waking life. She tells Tracey the       character escalated into an impassioned
song therapist that she has day dreams in      disdain and I soon noticed that I would
the office. She cannot wake up. Her inner      scowl back at my friends‘ references to
voice is all wrong for the world out there.    her with bitter retorts stating that I hoped
The scratchy needle interrupts, and she        never to be associated with her
startles with her trademark big eyes and       characteristics. On the scale of
shocked gasp.                                  comparative masochism, I can truly say
                                               that I would rather sit and watch Susan
  In the courtroom scenes of Ally McBeal,      Estrich debate Bay Buchanan on Geraldo
justice is not always served. As in reality,   Rivera Live all day long, seven days a
money talks, the guilty may walk, and law      week than have my friends greet me with
practitioners are fallible. However, to        allusions to Ally McBeal. Admittedly,
minimize these imperfections, David            such a reaction is not healthy and is a bit
Kelley uses music to bring a degree of         over reactive. When I learned several
resolution to each show. Music carries its     weeks ago that a significant portion of
own internal scale of justice. Harmony,        young females view Ally Mcbeal as a role
consonance, and the tonic key, or the          model, I think my blood pressure rose to a
musical "home," all push a melody to its       level never before reached. Surely, if I did
resolution. The familiar melodies of these     not deal with this anger, a stroke was on
classic hits capture the vitality and          the horizon. I decided to embark on some
assertiveness of the human spirit.             constructive self-analysis. So why do I
                                               dislike Ally McBeal so intensely?
  Ally shouldn‘t worry. Her inner music is
already there. She just needs to listen. The     Where to begin? As an attorney, Ally
melody most true to her heart is the Ally      McBeal‘s character embodies virtually
McBeal theme song that introduces every        every stereotype of female attorneys
episode: Now I‘m ready to sing, I been         which my friends and I have attempted to
searchin‘ my soul tonight, I see there‘s so    overcome professionally since we began
much more tonight, Now I know I can            practicing law. Each week, Ally McBeal is
shine the light, To find the way back ho--     portrayed as the stereotypical hysterical
ooo--ome."                                     woman confronted with a situation which
                                               leaves her on the verge of a nervous
                                               breakdown. Inevitably, in each episode,
                                               she seems to approach all legal issue with
                                               virtually no legal analysis. Instead, when
Don't Call Me 'Ally' by                Lisa    handling a legal matter, which is a rarity,
Friedman                                       Ally McBeal‘s personal life seems to take
                                               precedence as she becomes consumed in a

W         hen Ally McBeal first hit the
          airwaves and my non-attorney
          friends began greeting me with
questions such as ―How is my little Ally
                                               frenzy as to how the legal issue relates to
                                               her own personal life, rather than focusing
                                               on her client and her client‘s needs. Ally
                                               McBeal personalizes every case that she
McBeal‖, I dismissed such comments as          handles. For example, when handling a
simple annoyances. As more and more of         divorce matter, Ally McBeal fails to argue
my friends started to refer to me as ―their    practically any legal analysis or case law
in support of her client‘s position. Instead,      Criticism of Ally McBeal would not be
she    prepares      by     completing      a   complete without commenting on her
retrospective on her life and how the           wardrobe. Now, it‘s not that I believe
matter relates to her situation, and then       female attorneys should be required to
she proceeds to make an impassioned             wear long skirts and jackets when
speech to the jury solely based on her own      presenting a case in the courtroom. In
life experiences and the perfect life she       fact, I am admittedly a slave to fashion
seeks so desperately.                           and you probably would never catch me
                                                wearing a skirt below the knee. But, Ally
  Instead of practicing law, Ally McBeal        McBeal‘s hemline can at times be nothing
spends most of her time questioning why         short of ridiculous. When in the
she has not found happiness in life and         courtroom, she might as well be wearing a
why her dream of having a successful            sign that says ―Pardon me, I can‘t think,
career coupled with an adoring husband          but check out the legs.‖ I at times think
and a few children has not been fulfilled.      that it is nothing short of a miracle that
In fact, Ally spends most of her billable       she is able to sit without her hemline
hours deliberating whether she should           approaching her neck.
grant an individual the honor of a date
with her tortured soul, or deciding                Perhaps it is David Kelley‘s presentation
whether she should have an affair with her      of a stereotypical professional, working
former boyfriend, Billy, who is currently       woman consumed in her own emotion that
married. Indeed, for some inexplicable          truly grates on me. As attorneys, my
reason, Ally seems inevitably able to           friends and I seek respect for our skills
associate some issue or aspect of any           and strive to overcome the stereotype that
given case with some sort of attribute of       women are more concerned with dating
Billy and the life that they had, should        and finding a husband than dedication to
have had, or could have. I often find           their careers. This is not to say that family
myself questioning whether Ally McBeal          and social lives are not important, but how
ever really works? Why do we never see          are we to gain the confidence of our
Ally McBeal struggling to meet her firm‘s       clients if they believe that we are innately
required minimum billable hours? By the         unable to focus on their legal problems?
way, how many billable hours is she             Each of us realizes that our clients are
required to put in a year - 100? Moreover,      putting trust in us for competent
why do we never see Ally McBeal, unlike         representation. Ally McBeal, on the other
most real-life associates, burning the          hand, has the emotional maturity level of
midnight oil to complete a legal brief or       a seventh-grader and seems more
motion? And, really, how many of us are         concerned with her personal trials and
out at a bar on the eve of a trial, rather      tribulations than with her professional
than rehearsing our opening? Also, how          practice.
does Ally McBeal find the time to see a
therapist ... especially during her lunch         Now, if David Kelly is simply
break? Most associates don‘t even have          attempting to portray a character whose
the time to develop psychiatric problems        traits are gross exaggerations of qualities
which require therapy.                          that we all possess, then he has eminently
                                                succeeded. But, for all of those young
                                                women who aspire to emulate Ally
McBeal professionally, they might find        relationship show set in a law office that I
better role models on David Kelly‘s other     personally find unwatchable. Needless to
program - The Practice. It‘s closer to the    say, Ally McBeal continues to pull in
real thing.                                   fabulous ratings; millions of young
                                              professional women relate passionately to
                                              its protagonist.
                                                Originally the firm consisted of Bobby
Severed    Heads    on   the                  Donnell and his associates, but last year
Practice by Professor Michael                 after an internal struggle, Bobby made
Asimow                                        Eugene Young, Ellenor Frutt, and Lindsay
                                              Dole partners. Jimmy Berlucci is still an
                                              associate, but his skill level seems to be

         distraught podiatrist rushes into
        the office demanding to see           improving. In a major surprise,
        attorney        Ellenor      Frutt    overqualified       receptionist  Rebecca
immediately. He says that the previous        Washington passed the bar and became an
night he picked up a woman in a bar and       associate (nobody knew she was going to
they went to a motel together. Then he        law school). So far she seems to be a
went home. The next morning, upon             terrific lawyer. Rebecca's position as
opening his medical bag, he discovered        receptionist/secretary has been filled by
the woman's severed head. He claims he        Lucy Hatcher, who has had some very
has no idea how it got there. Now what?       funny lines so far.

  Just another day at Donnell, Young,           One of the best things about The
Frutt and Dole, the home of TV's The          Practice is that it thrashes out thorny
Practice. Its first four episodes this fall   issues of legal ethics on screen. In the
have produced crackling legal dramas,         case of the severed head, for example, the
maintaining and often exceeding the high      attorneys engage in a passionate debate
standard this Emmy-award winning show         about what to do. The lawyers seek a legal
has set in its first two seasons. Camryn      opinion from noted ethicist Anderson
Mannheim , who won the best actress           Pearson, who they happen to be
Emmy for her portrayal of Ellenor Frutt,      representing in another murder case.
continues to turn in superb performances.     Pearson says they have no obligation to
In my view, the two current shows The         turn over the head. Ultimately, the lawyers
Practice and Law and Order, and the           decide to deliver the head to the District
superb 1960's era show The Defenders,         Attorney and they surrender the client at
are the finest legal drama series that have   the same time. This is largely a tactical
ever appeared on television.                  decision. Since the client professes
                                              innocence, the best strategy is to
  For those who haven't seen The Practice     cooperate with the police.
(Sunday nights on ABC), it's all about the
practice of a scrappy, bottom-end Boston        But what is the firm's ethical obligation
law firm. The Practice was created by         in the severed head case? Must the
David Kelley who writes many of the           attorneys turn over the head to the police?
episodes; astoundingly Kelley also created    If so, must they identify the client as the
and still writes Ally McBeal, a               source? Must they also turn over the
client's medical bag (which will probably      the attorneys ethically avoided any
lead the cops to the client)? Can the          obligation of disclosure of the location of
attorneys represent the client but not         bodies yet were allowed to represent the
deliver the head to the police by refusing     client.
to take custody of it? Under that scenario,
how should they explain the situation to         In another show, a frantic client calls
the client?                                    Ellenor on his cell phone. He's just run
                                               down a pedestrian and he had been
  It seems clear that if the attorneys take    drinking. In fact,. there's an open bottle of
custody of the head (or any other physical     whiskey in the car. What should he do?
evidence of crime), they must turn it over     Ellenor thinks a bit and advises him to
to the police. Probably they must deliver      start drinking it "to settle his nerves."
the head in the medical bag in which the       Then when he flunks the breath test, the
client claims he found it (otherwise they      cops can't tell whether he was drinking
would be tampering with the evidence).         before or after the accident.
Since the evidence came from the client,
they should not disclose the source to the       It seems clear that Ellenor's advice was
police. At trial the jury should not learn     grossly unethical. It is like counseling the
that the evidence came to the police from      client on where to hide the gun that was
the defense attorney.                          used to commit a crime. She obstructed
                                               the police's access to evidence and
  On the other hand, an attorney is not        unlawfully concealed material having
required to disclose the existence or          potential evidentiary value, in violation of
location of evidence that he never took        Model Rule 3.4. She also assisted the
custody of, as long as the attorney does       client in conduct that the lawyer knows is
not move that evidence or make it more         criminal or fraudulent under Rule 1.2.
difficult for the police to find. The famous
dead body case of People v. Belge, 376           But the ethical issue didn't disappear;
N.Y.S.2d 771 (1975), held that attorneys       everybody called Ellenor on her ethical
who knew but failed to disclose where          lapse, including her boss Bobby Donnell
victims were buried committed no crime.        (who was also the pedestrian struck by the
A subsequent ethics opinion indicates that     client). This criticism triggers a serious
the lawyers in Belge violated no ethical       identity crisis of the sort all lawyers must
rules either.                                  undergo from time to time. Ellenor
                                               wonders how she could have sunk to such
  Cases like Belge may mean that the           depths. Fortunately, by the next episode,
attorneys could avoid the whole problem        she is back to her usual self.
by not taking possession of the head. They
might first explain their ethical obligation     Anderson Pearson was Lindsay Dole's
to the client. The client can then simply      favorite professor at Harvard. Although
pick up the head and take it away. Some        the two were on opposite sides of a
would say that this course of action           tobacco case last year, Pearson came to
violates ethical canons because it is likely   the firm when he was charged with killing
that the client will quickly dispose of the    an unarmed stalker who had terrorized his
evidence. But others would respond that        family and strangled his cat. The judge
this case is no different from Belge, where    rules that self-defense is not available.
Lindsay and Bobby try to argue that the
shooting was involuntary (not an easy
claim given that Pearson fired five times).
Along the way, they browbeat or bribe an
expert witness into supporting their claim
of accidental shooting. But the jury
doesn't buy it and Pearson is convicted of
second degree murder. The appellate court
criticizes Lindsay and Bobby for failing to
attempt an interlocutory appeal of the
judge's self defense ruling. Lindsay is
afflicted with overwhelming feelings of
guilt that she has let her professor down.

   So far this season, The Practice has
served up numerous tasty ethics puzzles
and explored with great sensitivity the
personal crises that practicing law can
trigger. The show is always interesting,
sometimes corny, often downright terrific.
Check it out.