The Practice
Death Penalties

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Death Penalties

Let me just say, this episode pushed several buttons for me. When I was eighteen, my mother died of cancer, although it was a different type than the woman in this script. Several years after that, a friend of mine arranged for an assisted death when he reached the stage of AIDS dementia. Some time later, I worked in an AIDS hospice. And at that time, I became friends with a woman whose name happens to be Sally Simpson, and whose brother's name is Scott. So I was a little weirded out by all this. You'll forgive me if I'm not a barrel of laughs here. (Oops! Almost forgot: a shout-out to sne75.)

Bobby is conferring with a client in his office. He tells that client that they have to make a decision, and that if "they" can get manslaughter, "they" should take it. Apparently Bobby's planning to serve time along with his client. ["Nah, that might mess up his suits." -- ragdoll] The client, an anxious, affluent-looking man, asks how much time he might have to serve. Bobby thinks it could be as little as three years; at the most, six. The man is distressed to hear this and mentions that his kids are only thirteen and eleven. Bobby mentions that the problem is that jury nullification is risky, and that technically, he's not allowed to argue it. The client asks about an insanity plea. Bobby replies, "The problem there is that your demeanour was calm and deliberate at the time. Now look, Helen Gamble is a very good DA. Also, on this issue, she's on a mission with it. Her grandmother -- I don't know all the details -- whether she was euthanized somehow or -- all I know is, she goes tough on mercy killings." His client protests that what he did was an act of compassion. Bobby understands that, but he reiterates that if they can get manslaughter, they should take it. His client is incredulous: "I can't believe they're pushing this. This is politics!" Bobby points out, "You did shoot her in the head." Credits and commercials. I kind of wish they'd update the cast shots in the credits.

Helen, Bobby, and Lindsay burst out of the elevator at the courtroom. Helen's hair is scraped into the severe ponytail again. Apparently you can't be a bitch if your hair is loose or bouncy. News to me. Anyway, she's not offering manslaughter. Big shock. Bobby claims it's a mercy killing; she says it's a homicide. Bobby claims he's agreeing to plead to homicide; Helen replies, "Not enough, you're not." Bobby wants to know if Helen's looking for a life sentence and insists his client is no criminal. Helen's looking for more than five years and asserts that he is a criminal who committed premeditated murder. Helen asks, "What, I'm supposed to go light because it came from love? A lot of homicides do." Bobby asks her to listen to how angry she's getting; she turns to go into the courtroom. Bobby grabs her arm and says in a lowered and slightly menacing tone, "Hey -- get some therapy." Helen just glares and tells Bobby to take his hand off her. She stalks off, and Lindsay says she tried talking to Helen last night. She tells Bobby that she doesn't think they can try for insanity; Helen will pick them apart. Bobby wonders what that leaves them.

Whooshy-slamming sound. A judge is asking dubiously, "Self-defence?" Bobby claims it's viable. She asks, "You want to argue that he defended his wife by shooting her in the head?" Bobby thinks he should at least be allowed to argue it; the judge says that won't be happening: "I have to prevent the law from being tortured here." Bobby tries to argue but she's firm. She wants to know what else he's got. Bobby asks that the prosecution include manslaughter as a lesser charge. Helen claims that it wasn't manslaughter, it was premeditated. Bobby says that's a question for the jury. Helen responds, "The jury doesn't get to decide what defendants are charged with." Bobby insists that she won't charge manslaughter because she's afraid that's the verdict the jury will return. The judge points out that she can't tell the prosecution what charges to bring. Bobby starts to argue some more, but Lindsay interrupts him. The judge suggests that they get going, but as Bobby and Lindsay leave she asks Helen for a moment. She tells Helen that she can't instruct her on how to prosecute her case, but that it seems to her that manslaughter would be a good outcome in this situation. Helen doesn't agree, and she's aware that a jury could let the defendant go free. Helen scuttles off, willing to take her chances.

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The Practice

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