The Practice (1997–2004)
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Police State 

After a policeman is shot to death, Jamie and Tara arrive at the hospital where the suspect is being treated, and are shocked to find the police torturing him for information. But the real ... See full summary »


Rod Hardy


David E. Kelley (created by), Jonathan Shapiro (teleplay) | 2 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Camryn Manheim ... Ellenor Frutt
Michael Badalucco ... Jimmy Berluti
Steve Harris ... Eugene Young
Jessica Capshaw ... Jamie Stringer
Rhona Mitra ... Tara Wilson
James Spader ... Alan Shore
Bill Smitrovich ... A.D.A. Kenneth Walsh
Ray Abruzzo ... Detective Michael McGuire
Michael O'Neill ... Judge Robert Temple
Blake Heron ... Joe Moran
Marshall Allman ... Todd Beck
Alejandro Furth ... Dr. Mills
Michael Patrick McGill ... Officer Gailey
S.E. Perry ... Officer Chandler
Nadine Ellis ... Officer Annie Carroll


After a policeman is shot to death, Jamie and Tara arrive at the hospital where the suspect is being treated, and are shocked to find the police torturing him for information. But the real shock is when they discover no one seems to have the authority or the willingness to put a stop to it. Written by Aviram

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TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 January 2004 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Too convincing for comfort
11 November 2019 | by bombad_generalSee all my reviews

As far as I am aware, there are no such documented incidents regarding the Boston Police Departments (which has, civil rights-wise, a pretty good record). However, there are numerous incidents almost exactly like these with the Chicago Police Department, and, given the series is set in Boston, the BPD sort of drew the short straw. Hence, with all due deference to the fine work the BPD is demonstrably doing, this had to be shown.

In an effort to separate the debate from the issue of race, the series' writers switched the roles common in the public debate. Here, the murdered police officer is black, and the suspect is white. This cleverly boils down the episode's message to its essentials - who watches the watchers? Because, let's face it, law enforcement accountability is an issue that needs to be discussed, and needs to continue being discussed until such stories stop cropping up in this absurd amount. For instance, former (thankfully) CPD Cmdr. Jon Burge was convicted in 2011 following accusations of having been the leading figure in the torture of no less than 200 subjects. Those are Gestapo numbers, certainly nothing you want in the Land of Freedom. Some of the tortured were quite possibly real criminals. it doesn't matter. One of the principal tenets of criminal justice - and a point which is made throughout the series - is that even the most despicable individuals still have rights. That is how it was envisaged by the Founding Fathers, not the government-sanctioned lynchmob another reviewer here seems to be perfectly fine with (who also assumes the defendant's guilt, whereas the episode quite clearly hints at his complete innocence).

And the debate is going nowhere. People are firmly dug into their positions, mostly "all cops are " or "no cop can do any wrong", with the extremes being so vocal and unrelenting that no real debate ever commences; we see only echo chambers for left-wing anarchists and crypto-fascists with a little red, white, and blue sprinkled on top. But we need a debate, and we need it now. And if this episode can help further this cause, I say good. Because it exposes the flaws in the system, and does so mercilessly. That is what good TV does. Because this is fixable - but it also means acknowledging some hard facts.

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