The Practice

Season 8 Episode 1

We the People

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Sep 28, 2003 on ABC

Episode Recap

Eleanor is speaking with her latest client in prison. Brad Stanfield is accused of murdering his pregnant wife and unborn son. Eleanor wants Brad's daughter there in the courtroom for the trial to make Brad seem more "human". Brad doesn't want to expose his daughter to the ugliness of the trial, but Eleanor assures him she's already being exposed to it. Brad wants Eleanor to get him out on bail; he knows if he could have a press conference to tell his side he can sway a potential jury pool. She tells him there's no way a judge will allow someone charged with double homicide bail. Brad orders her to find a way and tells her to start showing the type of zeal that comes with defending an innocent man.

Jimmy and Eugene are defending a woman charged with murdering a crack dealer. The judge has called them in and forbids them from pleading self-defense or defense of others in their case. The murder was caught on tape and the accused can clearly be seen approaching the drug dealer and shooting him three times. Their hands tied, Eugene tells the judge they plan to plead insanity. When the judge asks on what basis, Eugene tells him, "You saw the tape...she's crazy."

Back at the office Eleanor gets a visit from an old friend, Alan Shore. He tells her he's left Coruthers and now yearns to do whatever it is she's doing. When Eleanor asks what happened t Coruthers he tells her he embezzled--allegedly. Eleanor says she can't recommend someone fired for embezzlement for employment. Alan points out that he's the top anti-trust attorney in the state, he's going through a huge character growth and he needs a break. Eleanor tells him to take a case for her and see if he likes it; a homeless man is accused of misdemeanor battery, he kissed a woman without her permission.

In jail, Eugene and Jimmy are speaking with their client, Aisha Crenshaw, and explain they have no choice but to plead insanity. Aisha, who lost her 2 year-old daughter in a drive-by shooting three years ago, says that killing that man was the most clear-headed thing she's done in her life. Eugene says, "Not anymore."

Alan goes to the courtroom and tries to get the charges dropped, but the victim refuses. Alan meets with the client, Randy Markham, who claims he was just trying to "Halle Berry" the victim.

At Aisha's trial, her neighbor testifies to what happened the day of the shooting; the neighborhood was planning a 4th of July bock party when the local crack dealer, Marcus Thayer, shows up. Aisha approaches him and they have words. She walks away and then the neighbor also has some words with the drug dealer. He turns to see Aisha returning with a gun. He walks up to Marcus, aims, and shoots him three times right there in the street. When asked to describe Aisha's demeanor, the neighbor said she looked "fed up".

Jimmy cross examines the witness and asks why no one ever called the police about the drug dealer. The witness tells him they called all the time and nothing was ever done; they'd drive by now and then and put up the observation cameras (which is how the shooting was caught on tape) but they'd never do anything. Jimmy says that sounds like an exaggeration, the witness tells him they have an ice cream truck that drives down the street selling popcicles, fudgecicles and cocaine. Kids as young as 10 years old are not only using, but selling drugs.

The judge calls Jimmy over and asks why he's using this line of questioning, Jimmy says he's just trying to paint a picture. When the judge asks him if he likes practicing law, Jimmy plants a smile on his face and says that in order not to look like he's being rebuked in front of the jury he's going to pretend they're just having a pleasant conversation, but for the judge not to mistake this for thinking that he's actually a funny guy.

Back at the office Alan has cleand up his client and bought him a new suit, which he submitted to the practice for reimbursement. Tara, the new paralegal, informs his they don't shop for new clients. Alan asks her if they are allowed to shop for each other. Tara doesn't look amused.

Meanwhile, Aisha refuses to say she's insane. Eugene explains it's their only chance. Aisha says she's the client and she has the right to choose what she says on the stand; drugs are killing their babies and someone has to protect them.

Eleanor is trying to explain to Brad why she doesn't want him to receive bail. There will be a public outcry which will prejudice them at trial. Brad says she doesn't understand; if he's allowed to address the public that outcry will be squashed. She tells him he may be overestimating his charm. Just then Christine Shepard, the victim's sister, brings Brad's daughter Emma to visit. Eleanor approaches Christine for a moment of her time, but Christine cuts her off saying her client murdered her sister and she won't be cooperating with his defense.

Back in the courtroom the vicitm of the "Halle Berry" attack, Debbie Huber, tells her story; she was at work when Randy Markham grabbed her and forced his scuzzy tongue into her mouth. It took three showers to get his odor off her. Alan approaches to cross, telling her she's very attractive and asks if men ever hit on her, ever kissed her under the mistletoe at an office party. Debbie points out that they aren't strangers. Alan asks if Brad Pitt came to her office and kissed her if she would call the police. Debbie looks at Randy and says, "He's not Brad Pitt." So Alan sums up that her issue wasn't being kissed, but rather by whom. Debbie corrects him, saying, "By what." Alan thanks her for her honesty.

Eleanor and Jamie speak with Brad's daughter, Emma, and explain that they may want to call her as a witness. Ashley says she understands and that she's supposed to say that her mom seemed really sad so people will believe she committed suicide. Eleanor tells her they just want her to tell the truth. Ashley says her mom seemed really sad. When Jamie asks is she thinks her mom killed herself, she says she knows her dad didn't kill her because he loved her; her mom seemed really sad so she must have killed herself. This all sounds a little too rehearsed and Eleanor asks Emma if he dad told her to say this; Emma says no but Eleanor looks less than convinced.

Alan comes home to hear the sound of laughter and splashing from his pool. He goes around back to find Randy and his daughter, Ashley, swimming. Alan is a little surprised to find Randy has a daughter and asks if she lives on the street with him. Randy explains he's not homeless, he lives in a tenement in the Projects and tries to give her as normal a life as he can. Alan asks what he's doing there and Randy explains he was rolled for his shoes and has nothing to wear to court the next day. Alan says he'll bring an extra pair to court.

Randy asks Alan confidentially if he does indeed smell like the witness testified. Alan jokes that he only smells like chlorine but Randy asks for his honesty. Alan gently tells him he does have a distinct body odor. Randy tells him he does bathe although perhaps not as much as he should. His daughter gleefully does a cannonball into the pool. Randy apologizes, but says his daughter has always dreamed of swimming in a pool. Alans tells him it's ok, they can stay and swim as long as they like.

Aisha is testifying at her trial; she's passionate about protecting the children on her street from Marcus Thayer. The judge stops her and reminds her she can't use defense of others as a justifiable theory. Aisha says its justifiable to the parents of her community. The judge says he will instruct the jury that as a matter of law they can't consider defense of others as her defense. When he asks Aisha if she understands, she replies, "As a matter of law, the truth of what happened that day can't be considered in this room." Outraged, the judge calls the attorneys into his chambers.

The judge feels Eugene and Jimmy disobeyed a direct order, Eugene assures him he passed that order on to his client but every defendant has the right to take the stand and tell her story...that is something they can't control. Steaming, the judge warns them that if they try to use defense of others in their closing he'll have their bar cards.

Eleanor is speaking with Brad in prison and says they need an alternative theory to suicide. She assembled a mock jury and presented just their side with none of the prosecution's evidence and not one of them would swallow the idea that it was suicide. Brad tells her the mock jury didn't hear from him so they didn't get the whole story; his wife was a very bad woman who had an affair, she was probably wracked with guilt over wanting to leave him and committed suicide.

On the stand Randy explains why he did what he did; the day before the incident he and his 6 year-old daughter was on the street begging for money. Debbie walked by and Randy asked her for help; Debbie told him he was disgusting and smelly right in front of his daughter, along with some other choice words which made Ashley cry. Randy says that he can't give his daughter much, but the only thing she had was respect for her father, which has now been taken away by Debbie. He wanted to embarrass Debbie the way he embarrassed her, so the next day he kissed her in front of her co-workers.

In Aisha's case, an offer has been made of second-degree murder which would be a life sentence but still have the possibility of parole. Aisha won't hear ot it. Eugene lets her know they have no hope of winning unless the jury decides to ignore the law. Aisha stands firm and instructs Jimmy in his closing to convince the jury that the law is wrong.

Outside the courtroom Alan makes a proposal to Debbie; Randy has a modest homeowner's insurance policy that covers defamation of character. If Debbie sues him civilly and claims that others saw them kissing and assumed they were a couple, she could get $10,000 if she had a good attorney, which Alan is. She would have to drop the criminal complaint, though. Debbie is interested but asks if it's a bribe, Alan says it is...that's why it's going to be their little secret.

Eugene is coaching Jimmy on his closing; if he words it right the judge can't shut him down, but the wording has to be perfect. They need to get just one juror on their side for a hung jury. Alan comes in and Eugene asks him about this embezzlement that he heard of. Alan explains it was a half Robin Hood thing, he stole from the rich and kept it.

Eleanor is giving a press conference and tries to undo the damage that the media against her client has done. She assures them when the facts come out at trial they'll all know what she knows, that her client is innocent.

At a meeting between Randy and Debbie, Alan sets out the rules; Randy will not contest her claim and waive conflict of interest so Alan can help Debbie, Debbie will drop the criminal charges and the all agree to keep this private. That last detail to cover is the agreement; it will be both oral and written. Debbie is shocked when she realizes they mean her. She asks why she'd ever do that, and Alan explains she offended her dignity; she was disrespectful to an honorable man and his daughter and what she did was wrong. And this condition is non-negotiable.

Jimmy is very cunning about his closing; he prefaces most of his comments with "it would be wrong for me to say...", therefore he's not arguing self-defense or defense of others, because that would be wrong. The judge tries to stop him but Jimmy presses on, saying his client was wrong for taking the law into her own hands and it's irrelevant that the police were doing nothing. He also brings up several other things that are not relevant to the case so the jury must disregard it.

Tara has typed up the agreement for Alan and says it's tantamount to insurance fraud. Alan asks if that's wrong. Just then Randy comes in to thank him for recognizing him as a person of dignity and someone who is honorable. He's near tears when he takes Alan's hand to shake it.

The judge is not at all amused with Jimmy's closing. Jimmy says that he was instructed what not to argue and he got up there and expressly did not argue that, if he has a problem the judge should call a mistrial. The exchange starts to get heated when word comes back that the jury has reached a verdict after just 20 minutes of deliberation.

The foreman announces that Aisha has been found not guilty. At the press conference following she expresses her gratitude but also asks that "we the people" rise up and defend our children.

At home, Alan sits by his pool alone and solemnly looks out on the water.
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