Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Wrongful death" theme in tv finales in 2010

In "Rubber Room," the finale to Law & Order on 24 May 2010, character Jack McCoy delivered one of the most impassioned speeches in the 20 year history of the show to a lawyer from a teachers union. Beginning with “Just how far up your ass is your head?” , McCoy delivers a threat to the lawyer, and to the union, as to their lack of assistance in identifying a teacher who is planning a Columbine-like massacre:

“but if your obstruction allows a massacre to happen I will crucify you Mr. Kraleck. I will charge you with negligent homicide and after I convict you, I will resign my job and represent the families of the victims in a wrongful death suit against you and the union. By the time I’m done, you will be finished, so my advice to you is GET OUTTA MY WAY!”

How many times in Law & Order history has a DA threatened to resign and then go after a bad character via civil action? In the storyline, the police arrive at the school "just in time," so that no one is killed, and no factual predicate for any wrongful death actions is created. The season, and the series, end. The anti-teacher union sentiment found in "Rubber Room" mirrors other issues going on not only in New York but also New Jersey in early 2010.

One day later, on May 25, the season finale {titled "Running"] to the CBS show "The Good Wife" placed a "wrongful death" action in a more central role. In context, the death is of a crooked cop turned informant, and is brought by the wife. The twist is that the informant was creating self-serving information, the wife instigated his demise, and (not knowing any of this) the city offers the wife-widow a half-million dollar settlement of the wrongful death case. The only people bothered by this were Alicia, the good wife, and Kalinda, who takes a step which might correct the problem. [An attorney ethics issue is raised here.]

The "Running" episode is not the first episode of "The Good Wife" involving a wrongful death action.

The finale to NCIS on May 25 ["Rule Fifty-One"] did not have a wrongful death action, but did revolve around an execution death of a drug dealer twenty-years earlier, supposedly done by Gibbs. M. Allison Hart appears and evokes some philosophical musings on right and wrong related to the earlier Mother's Day episode, wherein Gibbs' mother-in-law got a pass for murder.
"Rule 51" includes a rule about lawyers, and separately casts Mexican drug interdiction efforts in a bad light, much as "Rubber Room" excoriated teachers unions. Of the "wrongful death" of the drug dealer, one sees that the drug dealer's children pursue other-than-civil resolutions.

***See also

Last episode of Law & Order

Law & Order “Rubber Room” Recap & Review

March 2 NCIS "Mother's Day" brings back M. Allison Hart


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