Law & Order

Season 8 Episode 5

Nullification

1
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Nov 05, 1997 on NBC
7.8
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes
4

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
After the cops trace an eagle tattoo on a man shot and killed while holding up an armored truck to a group of militia members, McCoy finds himself facing one of their number as the pro se counsel for his friends, arguing for the concept of "jury nullification", the right of a jury to protect a defendant from an unjust law by finding him not guilty despite the evidence.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Great Episode Jerk McCoy Lost

    10
    I loved it when the uberlberal Jackass McCoy lost.
  • A small group of people believe they are fighting the government when they rob an armored car,resulting in the death of one man.

    1.0
    This episode is not but a load of propaganda.All they show in this episode is how dangerous people are whom believe that the government has gone to far in taking away the rights of the American people.one very important piece of propaganda is a scene when the head defendant points out that they have the flag of the military in the courtroom.When he points this out the judge blatantly violates his oath and tells the man that it does not matter.When in actuality it is a very important fact in our system of justice.We live under civilian law and showing the colors of the nation with a military flag is clearly and openly a military tribunal.Therefore this episode is in effect telling us that we must accept the military controlling our lives.We must be wary of these things when we watch television.moreless
  • The summation by McCoy is what the show is all about.

    10
    A security guard is killed and it leads to a militia group. Their leader, Phil Christie, prosecutes their case in court.



    Despite overwhelming evidence, Christine tries to "nullify" their guilt on the basis that the law is unjust. He tries listing the President and other political figures of no specific relavance on his witness list, which the judge throws out. His unwillingness to follow the court's rules leads to McCoy standing and objecting so often that the judge at one point is sustaining it as McCoy stands up.



    One of the jurors (played by Walt McPherson, who was Gaffney on Homicide) is found by McCoy and Ross to likely be sympathetic to the defense's cause. McCoy decides against trying to remove him, fighting instead to win the case outright.



    While Christie proves worthy with a strong closing arguement, McCoy explains how the freedom theat the milita claims they have fails to hold up when they took another man's life. Sam Wasterston give the single best performance is the show's history, a passioniate plea for a guilty verdict as obvious as the light of day.



    But the jury is hung, 11-1, as he feared. His final line to Ross sums it up, wondering if one person can accept their defense, what does it say about our country.moreless
  • An armoured truck robbery gone bad leads Briscoe and Curtis to a militia group and a room full of guns. McCoy and Ross try to get them all sentenced for conspiracy to commit murder, however, the militia spokesman goes for ‘jury nullification’.moreless

    8.5
    Definitely an interesting episode, however, for a non-USA resident somewhat complicated what with the constitutional rights being pivotal in this story. In my experience US Americans have a very high regard for their Constitution (nothing wrong with that) but in my country we only refer to it if there is something we want but cannot have. Furthermore, we have no jurors in our judicial system. That background and the specialist judicial terminology, made it sometimes hard to fully understand the finer details of the court battle. But I found it intriguing to see how the story was also influenced by things that were not said, f.i. how the spokesman of the defendants expressed his point that they were not allowed their right to free speech by means of his demeanour when McCoy again objected to his questions.

    However, now that I know the outcome of the episode I will not watch this particular episode again, since it was too complicated to be entertaining and furthermore, I have no understanding for militia members. They seem to talk an awful lot about rights and little about obligations.moreless
Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach

Det. Lennie Briscoe

Benjamin Bratt

Benjamin Bratt

Det. Rey Curtis

S. Epatha Merkerson

S. Epatha Merkerson

Lt. Anita Van Buren

Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Exec. ADA Jack McCoy

Carey Lowell

Carey Lowell

ADA Jamie Ross

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

DA Adam Schiff

Denis O'Hare

Denis O'Hare

Phil Christie

Guest Star

Gerry Becker

Gerry Becker

Thomas Robbins

Guest Star

Betsy Aidem

Betsy Aidem

Kay Brant

Guest Star

Ted Kazanoff

Ted Kazanoff

Judge Daniel Scarletti

Recurring Role

Victor Truro

Victor Truro

Judge Douglas Spivak

Recurring Role

Barbara Spiegel

Barbara Spiegel

Judge Harriet Doremus

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Thomas Robbins recites for Briscoe and Curtis a somewhat edited version of the First Amendment. Besides skipping two rights (religion and press), he leaves out an important word in one clause he does cite. The full amendment reads (with omitted words in brackets):

      Congress shall make to law [respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or] abridging the freedom of speech, [or of the press,] or the right of the people [peaceably] to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • (Lennie and Ray are looking at militia web sites; Lennie stands up)
      Rey Curtis: What are you doing?
      Lennie Briscoe: Looking for the black helicopters.
      Rey Curtis: They never come near urban centers.

    • Lennie Briscoe: What about his tattoo?
      Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers: Within the year. Midlife crisis. Some guys get a sports car, some guys get a tattoo.
      Lennie Briscoe: What did you get?
      Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers: 27-year-old boyfriend.

    • Phil Christie: In many ways, you and I are alike.
      Jack McCoy: No, we're not. I don't rob armored cars.

    • Jamie Ross: You played it straight Jack; at least it's a moral victory.
      Jack McCoy: Unfortunately, it might be a hollow one. If those clowns could get one person on that jury to agree with them, what does that say about this country?

    • Phil Christie: Admit it Mr. McCoy, we won.
      Jack McCoy: You didn't win anything. The system you want to destroy won. I'll see you back here in a couple of months. Enjoy your freedom, while you still have it.

    • (Talking about the dead armored car guard.)
      Rey Curtis: The owner of the betting shop said he gave him a good tip. Horse came in a winner.
      Lennie Briscoe: Yeah, I guess it wasn't his lucky day.

    • Lennie Briscoe: 004? What are you? James Bond minus 3?

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (4)

    • (Briscoe and Curtis find a massive arsenal of assault weapons.)
      Lennie Briscoe: Take a picture and send it to Charlton Heston.
      Actor Charlton Heston used to be the president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He famously stated that the government could have his gun when they pried it from his "cold dead hands."

    • Jamie Ross: The New Sons of Liberty believe they're at war with the US government.
      Jack McCoy: And Son of Sam got his marching orders from a dog.

      "Son of Sam" was the nickname of serial killer David Berkowitz. His nickname came from a taunting letter he sent to the police during his murder spree. He claimed insanity at his trial, talked about demons, and said a dog had told him to kill. The jury saw through this, convicted Berkowitz, and gave him a life sentence.

    • Jury nullification occurs when a jury, despite overwhelming evidence and their own belief in the guilt of a defendent, returns a verdict of not guilty, thereby nullifying the law.

    • This episode appears to be ripped from the headlines of militia actions such as the sieges of Ruby Ridge and Waco, and the Oklahoma City bombing.

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