Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Defenders Episode 4

Tonight's episode of The Defenders again provided some good material for discussion. (For a discussion of previous episodes go here.) If you want to watch the episode before reading my comments on it go here (select the video tab and click on the episode aired Oct 13).

The theme in tonight's episode was perjury. It is first mentioned when the lawyer goes to interview his client's alibi witness. The witness says the client was with him at the time of the crime. The lawyer then tells the witness they have to make sure the stories match or that they keep the stories straight or something like that. I don't want to worry about possible perjury, he says. Well.... first question: was the lawyer really interested in making sure the stories matched or was he suggesting to the witness to start lying now and not change the story later because as long as he (the lawyer) does not know the truth, then he does not know there is any perjury going on...?

That aside, the case then gets more complicated and in another scene, in the middle of an argument, the lawyer yells at his client "start telling me the truth now!" So the client does and now the lawyer really knows the truth.

Two interesting questions arise in this second scene. When the lawyer is yelling at his client to tell him the truth, he actually says something along the lines of "just tell me the truth, I know you did it all along..." OK, what does he really mean when he says he "knew" the client was guilty all along. If he really knew it, then wouldn't that mean he also knew the alibi testimony was false, in which case he had solicited perjured testimony in the previous scene? ...or at least was ready to use perjury in support of the alibi?

Or, was it that he didn't really mean that he "knew" but just that he suspected and is now seeking confirmation....? Which leads to the discussion of the old question on when do lawyers really know anything?

But once the client tells the truth, everything changes, of course. Now the lawyer knows for sure and he understands the consequences. Now it is clear; he knows the alibi is false so, in another scene, he argues with his partner about how he can't use the alibi witness any more.

But the problems don't end there. Things get more complicated and the lawyer eventually decides he actually has to bring the alibi witness to testify.... why? I am not going to tell you. Go watch the show ....

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