Here’s a basic rundown, spoilers ahead: A girl’s body is discovered at the beginning of the show (of course). She’s been beaten, strangled, and raped… in that order, I believe.
Early in the investigation, Briscoe and Green find that another 5-year-old case is remarkably similar to this one, leading them to start wondering if they have a serial killer on their hands, with some undiscovered victims. Using a composite sketch made during the 5-year-old case, and a description of a man at a bar with the woman who died more recently which matches the sketch, the police talk to families and friends of girls who went missing in the last five years.
Through a slightly questionable, but mostly acceptable leap of logic, they make a connection that because of the distances they were traveling when they went missing, the murdered girls and some of the missing girls were probably using taxicabs. They run down the lists of cab drivers with their description, and interview a few likely suspects.
When they get to Mark Bruner’s apartment, he instantly starts throwing off his psycho vibe, much like John Doe in Seven. There’s obviously something disturbing about the guy from the get-go. While the police are talking to him, he goes to the fridge to get some cheese, and gets a knife out to cut it. Green draws down on him, and they take him into custody.
In court, Bruner’s first appointed lawyer (a woman) doesn’t contest Bruner being remanded without bail. Later, when discussing the case with McCoy, she admits that Bruner “scares the socks off of her,” and she wants off the case. McCoy doesn’t have a problem with it, and after a little finagling with the judge, she is replaced by a Legal Aid lawyer.
The lawyer from Legal Aid (whose name slips my mind at the moment) seems to be mostly interested in making a name for himself at first, and doesn’t much care that he’s defending someone who is at least a killer two times over, probably more.
In plea discussions, Bruner finally admits to killing others. “Fifteen… maybe sixteen… I lose count,” he says. McCoy says that they need some sort of confirmation before he can accept the plea, and Bruner looks at his Legal Aid lawyer and says “Ask him.” The lawyer tries to stop Bruner from going on, but Bruner then says, “He’s seen the bodies.”
It turns out to be true, the lawyer later admits that yes, he saw the bodies of the other victims and he knows where they are. However, he won’t divulge the location due to attorney/client privilege. This becomes the major issue of the rest of the episode.
McCoy leaks to the press the fact that the Legal Aid lawyer knows the location of 15 missing girls, and the next day a headline shows up in one of the local rags: “Killer’s Counsel Keeps Quiet.” (I liked McCoy’s comment here, “I always was a fan of alliteration.”) A furor soon begins, as the families of the missing girls discussed earlier in the show picket the Legal Aid office, demanding to know whether their missing girls is among the victims.
The Legal Aid lawyer won’t budge, however, and McCoy has him arrested as an accomplice, justified by the idea that the Legal Aid lawyer is helping Bruner cover up the crime.
What ends up happening is a trial which “puts the system on trial,” as McCoy tries to point out the justification for the Legal Aid lawyer to break his attorney/client privilege in this case. McCoy made a compelling argument that Bruner is already getting the death penalty for his two admitted murders, so Bruner won’t be hurt by the Legal Aid lawyer breaking A/C privilege, nor will anoyone else be hurt, other than the Legal Aid lawyer himself. The Legal Aid lawyer responds that everyone would pay the price for that, as it breaks the way the system works.
The case goes to jury, and they convict him on the murder charge. He still won’t give up the information he has.
The episode ends on a somewhat down note, as Bruner still hasn’t given up the location of the other 15 or 16 victims, and the Legal Aid lawyer won’t either. I think the last words of the episode were “We put the system on trial. We lost.”