Picturing Justice The on-line journal of law and popular culture Issue 3 - 1999 Editors: John Denvir Paul Joseph Rob Waring Sponsor: Contents: 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 personal." 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 1 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 1 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. Asimow 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 ambiguity. 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. A 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. ANALYZE THIS! JOHN 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 Asimow 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. mind. 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 litigators? 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 A 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.