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"Law & Order" Right to Counsel (1993)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Money is the root of all.

7/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
9 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A wealthy elderly woman is found stabbed to death in her apartment. The police arrest a younger man who was her love and who had a record of larceny for an incident in his youth. The man needs the money, no question, and the will leaves him a good deal, but there's no real evidence against him. His lawyer is a woman with a sort of store front operation out of Brooklyn who has a history of dealing down pleas. The suspect agrees to confess his guilt in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when he "allocates" -- that's Latinistic legalese for describing his crime in court -- his account is slightly discrepant with the facts.

The suspect goes to the slams alright but Robinet feels there's something wrong. The detectives look more closely into the background of the suspect's counsel and find that the vast majority of her cases have been pleaded out. She's only tried three in court and lost them. That is to say, she's not a very good lawyer.

Further probing reveals that the suspect selected her on the advice of the rich old lady's executor, the guy supposed to interpret and administer her will. The executor needs money desperately too, and he get's as his fee a chunk of the twenty million dollar estate. Physical evidence turns up against him and the innocent man is quickly released, no doubt with a sympathetic shrug.

The episode doesn't raise any very general issues. The problem is specific to the legal profession. The executor sent the first suspect to an attorney that the executor knew would wind up with the equivalent of a guilty verdict.

As usual, the characters and images are convincingly New Yorkish. The cops make wisecracks and sling moues around with abandon. They show annoyance when they're informed that they've arrested the wrong man, but they're pleased when they're told they can now arrest an attorney. Logan smiles and comments, "With pleasure." (Pretty amusing.) What I found -- well -- not exactly "dubious" but something that heightened my skepticism was when Paul Robinet realizes that the suspect's allocation is not quite right and this prompts the DA's office to pursue further channels of investigation.

I mean, the case is all wrapped up. A rich old lady has been murdered and her younger boy friend needs money and kills her in order to get it. Q.E.D. The guy is now in jail. Would a real DA have threatened to screw up their own conviction? That conviction is another feather in their cap. Maybe they would have, if they were as idealistic as Stone and Robinet.

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