By a strange coincidence, I saw this episode as a re-run shortly after two soldiers were convicted of murdering a homeless man in Toronto. The man they killed was not a menace to the neighbourhood, as Roland Kirk clearly was, but both cases illustrate how easy it is for people to fall through the cracks in a society. I don't know whether this was 'ripped from the headlines' for any particular incident, but the moral questions it brings up are intriguing. A victim's character isn't supposed to matter under the law, but does it in this case? Can the people of Bedford street be expected to follow the law when this man flew in the face of it? Can he be held responsible for his actions?
I liked how the man's position in society (he fell in the space between homeless, crazy, and addicted) was mimicked by the community's commission of/response to his assault (almost no-one knows the whole story) He was neglected on a societal scale, and then on an individual scale. The man, Roland Kirk, was an interesting character- sympathetic because of his insanity, less-sympathetic because of his obvious drug use and odious personality (I loved the reactions at trial)
I was suprised by Ben Stone's reaction to the case- that he empathized with the attacker. That wasn't the position I figured he'd take, and I like what Schiff said to him about how, considering the fickleness of fate, he could easily be in Kirk's position. One of Schiff's better talks. Stone didn't let his feelings get in the way of his work, however-the takedown of the attacker at trial was great. (I love it when defendants burst out angrily during cross-ex, A Few Good Men style.)
I found the jury's ruling pretty fair, although I was unhappy about the judge's conclusion. Remind me not to sleep in THAT alley...