Law and Order: 9/24 (Spoilers)

Did anyone else think that the serial killer (can’t remember characters name) on L&O last night was a little bit too much like John Doe (Kevin Spacey) in Se7en?

I enjoyed the story line and twist to go after the Legal Aid attorney but I couldn’t help to think that they could have made the killer a little less John Doe like. I was waiting for a box to be delievered to the DA Office.

I missed the show and would dearly love a detailed recap.

The killer’s name was Mark Bruner, and yes, my wife and I thought the same thing. I figured the actor was modelling his performance to Spacey’s as John Doe, and if so, he did a bang-up job of it.

'Twas a good episode, but yeah, the similarity to John Doe bugged me. I did like the way that all the women around him were pretty deeply disturbed by him. Made me think one of them was going to get taken out, actually.

Yep, Mark was very Kevin-Spacey-in-Se7en-ish.

I liked the episode. I tried finding the name of it on NBC’s website but I’ll be darned if I can.

I’ll do my best:

They catch a serial killer (a cabbie) who has murdered aboout 15 or sixteen girls teenaged girls over the last five years. Origianlly they do not know about all the girls he killed. they were able to connect him to two murdered girls that through DNS testing.

After he receives representation his first attorney (a woman)requests to step down because she is terrified of him and does not feel she could give him proper legal representation.

At this point Legal Aid appoint an attorney to represent him (I’ll call him Bob). Bob is a real obnoxious man (he was the country boy character on Spin City) and starts off by surpressing the eye witness ID. It is assumed that he is using this case as a stepping stone to better his career and will do anything to get ahead.

(Disclaimer: I may be missing something here)

Bob gets the killer to confess to the murders of the two girls in exchange for two concurrent 25 to life sentences. The killer is really smug and starts talking about the other women he has killed and how Bob knows about it. The DAs ask him to tell them where the bodies are kept and he refuses. So the DA take the deal off the table. Then the killer tells them that Bob has seen the bodies and can verify that they really do exist.

The DA office is furious that Bob won’t reveal where the bodies are hidden so they can bring closure to the familes. Bob sites attorney client privelidge and he can not tell them. McCoy then decided to arrest Bob for tampering with a crime scene. (Bob had to unlock and relock a door in order to view the bodies.) I believe the charge was being an accesory to murder.

McCoy tries to put pressure on Bob by having it leaked to the press that Bob is withholding the location from the familes of missing girls. Protests and threats start happening to Bob but he does not back down.

Eventually Bob is on trial (the killer is already found guilty and sentenced to death) and is given a last chance to give u the locations. Pleas from family members and the fact that his client was already sentanced to death were not enough to sway him from his legal reponsibilites.

The vertic comes in and Bob is guilty. They still hope that after he spends some time in Attica he will give the info but it did not look hopeful.
I kind of rushed this because I have to meet someone for lunch. I am sure that I missed some key parts and conversations but that was the general idea.

Got to go sorry for the rush.

I’m glad everyone else thought that there was something very "Seven"ish about that Mark Bruner guy. Still a good episode.

But here’s what I don’t get. Couldn’t the legal aid guy have been vague about the location and still have been “ethical”? I mean, sure don’t say “We went to 1234 Main st in the basement.” but what about “You know, the other day when I was over around Main st by that coffee shop etc.” and at least give the cops a good starting point to find it on their own? What a putz.

The local newspaper listing gave the episode the title “Murder.” I know they’ve been at this a long time, but this is the best they can do?

I was somewhat puzzled by this episode, it’s main point being that the DAs go after a lawyer who keeps his client’s confidences to himself. But lawyers must do this, even in circumstances as gut-wrenching as this. Guess this was one of their occasional episodes where the “good guys” are just plain wrong.

Can’t comment on the Spacey performance, since I haven’t seen it. The character certainly was creepy.

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.”

And I type too slow.

Thanks for the recaps.

It seems to me, then, that Jack was out of line. Bob the Attorney did not help commit the crimes, therefore he is not an accomplice. He is under no obligation to help the prosecution make their case.

The system broke because Bob was convicted, not because he didn’t reveal the location of the bodies. used to do reviews of the legal shows, like L&O, West Wing, and Ally McBeal from the point of view of an attorney. They gave great insight to what was realistic and what wasn’t. They haven’t done that in a couple of years…does anyone know of another website that does similar reviews?

I think you’re correct in your legal interpretation here, but I don’t agree that Jack was out of line. His job, once he learned that there were several victims whose identity was still unknown, was to aggressively pursue the conclusion of those cases. For the families who would receive closure, I saw it as part of his job to do everything he could to find out who those nameless girls were.

Also, there was some justification for Bob being indicted on those specific charges… because he had to lock the door behind him after he saw the bodies, or something like that, he was guilty of helping Bruner cover up his crime. I forget the exact way McCoy put it (it was better than what I just said), but it made sense to me at the time.

The way I see it, Jack was doing his job as he should have, but it just so happened that he was on the wrong side of the law this time.

I agree with Avalonian (very good recap by the way) that McCoy was doing this in the best interest of the victims familes.

Jack’s main reasoning as Avalonian stated was the A/C confidentiality was not going to hurt anyone involved except “Bob”. Bruner was sentenced to death (twice) for the bodies they found so his confidentiality was moot. I assume they were not going to prosecute Bruner for the other murders only close a bunch of missing persons files and bring closure to the victims families. At least thats the DAs stand point. Bob didn’t see it that way.

Interestingly, that’s what I thought was happening at first when “Bob” started talking about going to the movies. But no, he was just making a long analogy about selectively eating jujubes and selectively obeying the law.

I thought the exact same thing… I even started to work out in my head how he would make the hint, until it was obvious that he wasn’t going to.

I was really disappointed in this episode. Not that Jack went after the defense attorney - that was actually appropriate and proper - but instead that the writers (who usually do a good job on the law) utterly fucked up attorney client privilege.

Let me quote a bit from Florida’s Rules of Professional Conduct on Confidentiality of Information:

This is by no means limited to the State of Florida - indeed, I went to law school in New York, and the rule was the same.

So (a) Jack wasn’t being vindictive, as the defense attorney had committed a crime, and (b) the defense attorney did not have the attorney-client privilege to hide behind, as he had the right to reveal the information in order to avoid jail - the privilege no longer applied.* Bob wasn’t being noble, he was being incredibly stupid about his responsiblities under the Canons of Ethics. His attorney was also quite the fuck-up; she should have advised him that the Canons of Ethics allowed him to reveal the location of the bodies.


*In commentaries on the Rules of Professional Responsibility, it is noted that the defense attorney should hold out as long as possible in revealing the information - IOW, you can’t spill it when you are first questioned, or even when first indicted. But Bob certainly had the right to spill the beans when it became clear that he was going to be tried.

He didn’t commit the murders, but because he went to see the bodies, unlocked the door and then LOCKED THE DOOR when he was finished, he actively had a part in HIDING the bodies (assisted in a felony). Jack’s case was based on the fact the defense lawyer had actually done something to hide a body (lock the door again).

I’m definitely not a lawyer, but I thought the episode was fascinating.

Sua that is a big hole. I am surprised they let it through being it was the first show of the season they certainly had time to check the law.

How is revealing the location of the bodies establishing a defense? He was charged as an acessory by concealing evidence (locking door), IIRC, so his defense would be that he wasn’t. He felt he was allowed to see the evidence but not allowed to reveal it. I just thought the charges would be dropped if he revealed the information and was not part of the charges against him. Locking the door was the crime not withholding the location.

Sorry but I am a little confused.

NYR407, the crime was not viewing the bodies, which he was allowed to do. Had he unlocked the door, viewed the bodies, and then left, leaving the door unlocked, he would not have committed a crime. But, by locking the door, he hid evidence, and that is being an accessory after the fact.

If he told the police where the bodies were, he is no longer hiding evidence. It is a defense to a crime of hiding evidence to stop hiding the evidence.
The charges would be dropped because there would no longer be a basis to charge him, not just because Jack’s a nice guy (though in the show, they made it seem that way - another goof).


Sua so if he left the door unlocked he couldn’t be charged?

The prosecution doesn’t know the door is locked they are only going by what Bruner said. I don’t believe Bruner was present when “Bob” viewed the bodies. Doesn’t the prosecution have to prove the door is locked? Bruner certainly wasn’t going to help them.

Yep, if he had left the door unlocked, he couldn’t have been charged - he had done nothing to conceal evidence (indeed, by unlocking the door in the first place, he would have made it easier for the evidence to be found).

As for whether the prosecution knew that, they did - as they mentioned in the episode, Bob’s reaction when Bruner said it confirmed it for them.

And yes, the prosecution would have to prove it - and the episode fucked that up, too. Proof here is a bit tricky. Bruner could testify that Bob told him he locked the door - as a “statement against penal interest” it would not be hearsay and would be admissible. 'Course, that means that Bob would have to testify.
OTOH (and my evidence law is too rusty here), Bruner’s statement that he has the bodies locked away and Bob looked at them is (possibly) a statement against Bruner’s penal interest, and if Bob is Bruner’s accomplice, Jack or Serena may testify that Bruner said it at Bob’s trial. If, however, they could testify to Bruner’s statement at Bob’s trial, they could no longer be the prosecutors on the case - one cannot be both attorney and witness. 'Course, in the episode, they remained as prosecutors.

An easy way out is if Bob stipulated to the fact that he viewed the bodies and locked the door.