"Law & Order" Censure (TV Episode 1994) Poster

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Sins Ye Do, Two By Two.
Robert J. Maxwell25 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Laura Rudman and her husband have been getting phone calls threatening their little girl. Briscoe and Logan suspect a pedophile. I don't know why. The disguised voice on the phone and on the threatening video that arrives only suggests the child may be kidnapped and demands $20K. Maybe a fear of "pedophilia" and "internet predators" were a central feature of the moral panic of the early 1990s.

In any case, this episode has nothing to do with pedophilia, since it has its historical roots in the Judge Wapner scandal. The detectives find the trail leads back to a highly respected appellate court judge, who has been trying to frighten Laura Rudman into remaining his love. She always comes secretly running to him for succor when she's stressed out.

Jill Hennessy involves herself in the case but introduces the appearance of impropriety because she, too, had once been the powerful judge's lover. Judge Thayer himself is one of those cool and self-confident men who take their power -- and the subjection of others -- for granted. "Power is an aphrodisiac," remarked Henry Kissinger, and he must have been right because Judge Thayer is no more handsome than he should be. If ever Jill Hennessey needed succor -- or Laura Rudman, for that matter -- they should have come running to me. I'd have treated Jill Hennessy decently. I'd have GROVELED.

Anyway, when Hennessey confesses to her three-month long affair with the nefarious Thayer, she's censured. Not to worry. She'll be back by next week. Thayer, on the other hand, gets what's coming to him in a court room scene in which he must allocute -- relate his criminal actions in detail. It's a good scene, and it reflects the care that was taken with this series in its early years. When he begins to speak, Thayer comes up with a politician's slant: "I never meant to hurt anyone." It's as if someone else had done the deed. When warned by the court, he continues in the same vein: "It's a shame that anyone suffered." Finally a reasonably accurate description of his actions is squeezed out of him, but it's like getting water out of a barrel cactus.

In this episode, as in all of them, a viewer has to pay attention because the tempo of the editing is vivace. You can blink, if you like, but don't get up and leave the room or you're liable to miss a critical link in the plot.
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Power and ego
bkoganbing2 September 2017
This episode is based on the Sol Wachtler which stunned the legal and political world of New York State. Sol Wachtler was the Chief Judge of the Court Of Appeals and he threatened a woman who wanted to break off an affair he was having. You think that people who reach his kind of pinnacle are above such things. We learn time and again they are not.

A threatening message in a disguised voice demanding extortion and later a VHS tape of the child of Jane Kaczmarek threatening kidnap is sent to Kaczmarek. The apprehension of a lowlife who was hired to pick up a ransom left in a Central Park trash bin and a logo he recognized on the car of the man who hired him and the good work of the police lab technicians lead to the arrest of Apellate Court Judge David Groh.

To make matters more complicated Jill Hennessy before she joined the DA's office worked for Groh and had an affair with him which she broke off and left him and her job with him. As she said she hoped that she could keep that a secret, but who could ever figure this man would do what he did no matter how much of a satyr he was and how much of a satyr's ego he had.

Jill Hennessy resigns from the DA's office and as a private citizen is actually better able to help the case.

Groh is a frightening figure in both the power he wields and his monstrous ego.

Not a story we can forget either this episode or Sol Wachtler in real life.
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Claire Kincaid Takes the Spotlight
Better_TV30 April 2018
Jill Hennessy as ADA Claire Kincaid is the central figure here, where her past affair with a corrupt, blackmail-happy judge (David Groh, who played the execrable Dr. Jacob Lowenstein in season 1's memorable "Indifference") is brought into play. She is, as the title implies, censured by the court after the judge files a complaint - which means she's no longer allowed to practice law. Her resignation letter proves to be useful for EADA Ben Stone, however, who is able to use Kincaid's status as a private citizen when he renews charges against the judge.

It's a redemption arc for Claire, with the excellent Groh as a supporting player alongside the always versatile Jane Kaczmarek (perhaps most famous for her role as Lois on "Malcolm in the Middle") as one of his victims and George Grizzard as the lively defense attorney he's played twice before on L&O.

While it did strike me as a bit odd that a character as strong and smart as Claire would've been involved with this guy (and if my math is right, there was about a 30-year difference between the actors at the time of this episode), the whole thing is well-written enough that I was able to let it slide. I docked a point for the uninspired ending, though, which feels especially abrupt given the elegant closures we're used to from this show.
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"Sopranos" connection??
jjanorama22 August 2007
I had of course remembered David Groh in another episode of Law and Order based on a true incident involving a therapist, his wife and the horrific death of his young daughter for which he was convicted.

Recently, I saw the Law and Order episode "Censure" on cable TV. In it, David Groh plays Judge Joel Thayer, and is accused of stalking an ex-lover, and of threatening her daughter. During the course of the investigation, the detectives interview several witnesses -- one of whom is a suspect caught attempting to retrieve money left in a trash can in Central Park.

In an effort to identify the "black sedan" observed with a distinct crest or decal in the vicinity of the victim and her mother, THIS SUSPECT is brought in for questioning and is ultimately able to recognize this insignia on the car as "a Roman profile, like on a coin." (Was he eating a sandwich, triumphant and declaring " Yeah, I think you got it"?????)

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This was poorly written.
Cyn Jan14 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
After reading another review I found out this story has some basis in a real life event. But it seems in order to tell that story, they sloppily wrote the earlier "law" section of the story. They could have solved the case without any of the trouble that later ensues for the DA's office. After making a ransom drop the police swarm on the man who picks up the money. If they had used an ounce of sense they would have followed him to see where he went and if he was working with anyone else. Granted, no one was kidnapped at the time, the ransom was to prevent a kidnapping, so they may have deemed following him unnecessary. However, if they had done that, they could have solved the case quickly. Also, they could have scared off any one who was watching and working with the "future" kidnappers and potentially caused the situation to escalate since the family was told no cops. As i said, there was no kidnapping at the time, but they definitely should have taken all this into consideration before going after this man who collected. Furthermore, in the conversation where Claire reveals her affair to Stone and Schiff, if you listen to it, it really does not lend itself to her admission. It was sloppily thrown in. I've seen this done a few times on Law and Order, but in their later episodes when they kept trying for edgy story lines. Anyway, it makes more sense knowing that they were mirroring an actual incident, but it was as I say very poorly written.
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