The Practice
Liberty Bells (2)

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Deborah: B | 3 USERS: A
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Liberty Bells (2)
again, with appeals and arguments and motions. They've been coming back on Donovan's case for twelve years. Indicating Mr. Kearns, he states, "This father, this husband, has been waiting for this to be over. And this, on a case where the defendant confessed, this on a case where we have eyewitness testimony." Stanfield claims that defense attorneys are usually trying to free their clients on technicalities, and complains that in this case the system has been adhered to, the evidence is all sound, and they're in here . . . He doesn't finish this statement, but harps on the confession again, and the fact that the jury believed it. He concludes with a nonsensical argument: "Why don't we just let everybody go?"

Smokey pauses for a long time, and everybody waits uncomfortably, while the Pensive Music of Judiciary Reflection plays, then finally renders his verdict. It's a standard David Kelley verdict, in that the judge says one thing that makes you think you know the outcome, then something then makes you think the other way, and so forth, until he finally comes to the point. Smokey begins, "I am persuaded by defense counsel's arguments that before we put a man to death, we should be sure of the person's guilt, and not simply limit our inquiry as to whether the trial was technically sound from an evidentiary standpoint. That seems -- so obvious. But Mr. Stanfield's contention is also a valid one. We could keep re-evaluating evidence ad nauseam forever." He asserts that it would be nice to reconsider things, take a second or third look at the testimony, but if they did it for one defendant, they'd have to do it for all of them, and then the dockets would be clogged beyond repair and no one would get any justice. Smokey acknowledges to Ellenor that the confession and the eyewitness testimony were what convicted Stuart, and both were vigorously challenged at trial. He understands that she would like to keep renewing the challenge but the law does not allow for that, at least on the basis of the new evidence she's brought. Then he goes on to tell Stanfield that if the prosecution had had the DNA evidence prior to trial, they would have investigated the possibility of another suspect. Smokey winds up, "I am an old man. I look at each cigarette as possibly my last." Well, they haven't killed you yet. Maybe you shouldn't be so pessimistic, pal. "My last breath won't be spent executing a man I now think is probably innocent." Ellenor's tearing up. "The conviction is set aside. Mr. Donovan, you are free with the apologies of this court. Adjourned." I thought we were just going for a stay of execution here, or a new trial . . . can the judge actually set aside the original verdict? I guess he can. Stuart closes his eyes and bows his head a little; Ellenor is overcome. Mary is in shock, I think, since she's not reacting much. The other attorneys look bummed. Eugene says, "How about that?" Ellenor is crying now. You can see Lucy hugging Mary in the background. Jimmy looks pretty stunned too. Lucy congratulates Stuart, and Mary hugs the stuffing out of him, bawling. Mr. Kearns blinks furiously to keep back tears; he's pretty much alone in his pain. Ellenor is speechless; Eugene puts his arm around her as she cries in relief. ["Yeah, but who actually did it? I hate it when they don't tie it all up in the end." -- ragdoll]

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The Practice

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