A schizophrenic attorney who refuses to take medication defends himself against multiple charges of murder.


(as Lewis H. Gould)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
James Smith
Joanne Ellis
Patricia Smith
Sean Ellis ...
Jerome Early
Mr. Lowe
Tara Hauptman ...
Paula Dean
Jack Davidson ...


Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate a multiple homicide when several people in a laundry are stabbed to death. There is one survivor and she - and several others - identify a crack-head that hangs around many of the businesses on the same street. He's eventually identified as James Smith a schizophrenic who is off his meds. Smith is a lawyer who manages to obtain the court's approval to represent himself. The prosecution faces a dilemma knowing that while Smith might be quite presentable when taking his medication, he has in the past simply decided to stop at which time his mental health would rapidly deteriorate. The case is particularly difficult for ADA Claire Kincaid who had once agreed to a plea bargain with him. The families of the dead now blame her for the loss of their loved ones. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

8 May 1996 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode was remade for Law & Order UK with the title "Defence". See more »


When James Smith is being chased through the library, he knocks over a rack full of books. The books remain attached to the rack as it falls over. See more »


James Smith: Have you ever been on an anti-psychotic drug?
Dr. Elizabeth Olivet: No.
James Smith: I'm using every ounce of strength I have just to talk to you. I feel like I'm pawing through a wool blanket. I feel stiff, and like I'm half a mile behind everyone else. I get so damned tired. It takes so much effort, holding on to reality.
See more »


Remade as Law & Order: UK: Defence (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Might have made a great mouthpiece
7 February 2015 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Three people are run through with a long and sharp instrument either a sword or a bayonet according to Medical Examiner Leslie Hendrix who between all the Law And Order franchise series probably has the record for appearances. Her doctor Rodgers certainly kept busy almost as much as a real Medical Examiner.

The crimes took place in a second hand clothing store and the owner and two workers were killed and a customer critically wounded. After a false start Jerry Orbach and Benjamin Bratt get the right guy and it's a homeless schizophrenic played by Denis O'Hare.

O'Hare's a sad case and a great reason that mentally ill people should be locked up and not sent out among us with a supply of meds. When they don't take them things like a triple homicide have been known to happen.

In fact something less drastic happened once before and Jill Hennessy plea bargained him out the door.

O'Hare before he showed symptoms of his illness was a promising law student. Going Pro Se, representing himself he does a pretty good job of it. Might have made a great mouthpiece.

In the end though just what is it he wins if he's successful?

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