Law & Order

Season 14 Episode 6


Aired Monday 10:00 PM Nov 05, 2003 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • One of the most empathetic offenders the show has yet offered, in an emotional case of identity theft that shakes up the prosecution as much as the viewer.

    In its long history of memorable criminals, "Law & Order" has rarely offered the audience one so sympathetic that he tugs on our heartstrings. The seemingly uncomplicated murder of a young man recently terminated from his day job unearths a startling chain of criminal behavior that leads to a seventy-nine-year-old black man in Harlem. The police are convinced he murdered the man that stole his identity and used it to mortgage his house, but the charming Lonnie Jackson refuses to admit he was conned out of his property. What begins as a good-natured prosecution between his "ancient but agreeable" lawyer and the district attorney's office turns into a fierce battle prove his competency to stand trial, when his uncaring son hires the formidable talents of a popular criminal attorney to prove his father is not mentally responsible for his crimes.

    It is rare that I identify with the man on trial, but this well-written episode touches all the right strings. It presents us with the ultimate devastation of loss, of being manipulated and taken advantage of, the humiliation that comes with waking one morning to find the bailiff at your door. Even the prosecutors realize the depth of meaning behind the case, and McCoy admits publicly that he's not too keen on its nuances. If he proves Jackson competent, it only means he gets to prosecute him in court. What issues it raises revolve around identity theft but boil down to the meaning behind honor. The murder was committed because it slammed home something beyond theft, beyond deception. It went straight to the man's pride and left him stripped of dignity. Morally we know that it was wrong, but emotionally we empathize with a man who knew his son would use anything as an excuse to have him institutionalized.

    Society and the justice system have no answers for cases such as this, when a sentence of ten years in a plea bargain may just be a life sentence. The law attempts to treat everyone as equals, but sometimes that feels infinitely wrong... until we look into the faces of the victims. But it is not the face of the stricken wife that we remember, as the screen fades to black. It's the determination in the eyes of a man who sacrificed everything to regain his dignity, and it's a stirring and often disarming image.
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