The Practice
Spirit Of America

Episode Report Card
Spirit Of America

Words on a black screen inform us:

On September 23, 1990, the body of nineteen year-old Jennifer Carson was discovered in the woods near her home in Redland Hills. Three weeks later, Randall DeWitt Jefferson was arrested and charged with murder. He was convicted of homicide with special circumstances and sentenced to death. His new lawyers have 18 hours to stop his execution.

The episode begins with a series of brief sound bites from random citizens. A reporter is asking people what they think of the death penalty and what they think about Randall Jefferson being executed tomorrow. Several people give the usual opinions, most coming down on the "pro" side. We then see some photographs of a smiling girl, first as a child, then as a teenager. Her parents are speaking to the reporter. Her parents seem remarkably calm and collected. Jennifer's mother is talking about how you never really get over something like this, although she wonders if maybe after tomorrow she'll feel differently. Jennifer's father says, "If they really do it this time." He indicates that Jefferson's had three execution dates come and go already, and he understands that he's got some new out-of-state lawyers. Mrs. Carson says she doesn't understand how anyone can do a job like that. "I mean, what kind of people would want to help an animal like Randy Jefferson?"

Quick cut to Jimmy racing down the hallway of a hotel, complaining to an unseen camera operator about the water pressure in his room. We are informed that it is 7:13 a.m. He bursts into another hotel room with the camera guy on his tail. Bobby's on the phone, Lindsay's working on notes in the corner, Eugene's racing around the room. Jimmy wants to know if any of them have water pressure and complains he's got no "flush power." Um, whatever. There's lots of bobbing documentary-type camerawork as Bobby's on the phone trying to convince someone to convince the governor to hear what they have to say, while Jimmy's in the bathroom flushing the toilet for research purposes. He continues his bitching until Bobby finally asks him to knock it off in there. Amen. Ellenor races in with some material on the pardon board. Bobby's party has given up on him and Bobby hangs up the phone, dejected. He reports to the others that the governor is now saying that he won't meet with them personally, but he may attend the clemency hearing. There's general grumbling about the governor going back on his word and being a coward. There's more general grumbling from Jimmy, who's bitching at Ellenor about the expense of taking a bottle of water out of the minibar, as most of the others rush around doing things with phones and papers. Bobby tries to keep a lid on everything. The chaos and carping continue until Bobby says, "Everybody, everybody just shut up please!" Eugene calls them all over to the TV set where a report on the hearing is being broadcast.

We learn that the murder of Jennifer Carson happened in 1988, and Jefferson is scheduled to die by lethal injection at midnight. There's footage of Bobby and his minions arriving in town earlier the same morning. In response to a question, Bobby says he doesn't think it's over by any means, mentioning that Governor Benning assured him that he would personally attend the clemency hearing. Bobby indicates his confidence that the governor will see that Jefferson did not receive a fair hearing. As the news anchorwoman reminds the audience that Randall Jefferson is sitting only yards away from where he is scheduled to be executed. The lawyers all look at each other and say nothing. Credits, commercials.

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The Practice




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