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This is an interesting episode not just for the fact that the judge was
the wife of the former Mayor of New York.
Ray (benjamin Bratt) refers to the printer on which the letters to the paper as a "garden variety bubble jet." He might as well had been talking about Commodore 64s or 5 1/4 inch floppies. Few people remember the bubble jet.
There is a lot of Unabomber in this as the brother turns in his brother hoping to save his life. Adam Schiff (Steven Hill) wants the death penalty, but Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) pulls a fast one so Jaime (Carey Lowell) could regain her credibility.
Good performances bu all, including Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the more interesting episodes because it raises issues that go
beyond legal tricks. A Yuppie couple and the owner of a tony coffee
shop go missing. The New York Post gets letters from the kidnapper
claiming -- well, it's not clear what he's claiming. The old
neighborhoods are disappearing, I guess, and the city is becoming a
sewer and civilization is rotting from within.
With the aid of a reluctant brother, the kidnapper is finally caught. He's a scruffy and very bright paranoid schizophrenic. In other words, he's nutty as a fruitcake but he denies his lawyer any opportunity to introduce his mental state at the trial. He's as sane as anyone else in the courtroom, he emphasizes. By this time the audience should be thinking of the Unibomber, who was captured because he was identified by his brother.
The defendant is, after all, a serial killer. He knocked off the three people he'd abducted and was still dangerous. McCoy is happy to see him get the needle, if that's what he wants. Jamie Ross is unconvinced and when she is given the responsibilities of the trial she allows the reluctant snitch of a brother to describe the psychiatric history of the murderer, which looks even worse than my own should look, although not as damning as that of my ex spouse.
There's a conundrum at the heart of the story. The perpetrator is crazy but refuses to allow his counsel to use his insanity (or his "instability", as it's called) as part of his defense. The defendant looks like the Wild Man of Borneo from P. T. Barnum's circus but he speaks clearly, sounds lucid, and can quote Max Weber, having an education behind him that includes Princeton and Harvard.
When a defendant tells the court that he believes the IRS is hiding under his bed and that he is being secretly videotaped by the NSA and frequently lapses into word salad, he's clearly not got his wits about him. But how about THIS particular perp? The law considers him merely a sane and serious murderer, whatever his cause. But is he? It may be legal to execute him but is it just?
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