Law & Order (1990) Episode Scripts

N/A - Equal Rights

NARRATOR: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
KAREN: There we were, all the women in the kitchen cleaning up, and all the guys watching the game.
I always thought it'd be different when we had families.
I don't think it even occurs to them.
Ha.
It occurs to Dave.
He just doesn't care.
What pisses me off about it is if I bring it up, I'm a nag.
I don't know.
Maybe it's our own fault.
We're the ones that let it happen.
No, I think men just do a good job of convincing us that it's our fault.
I mean, men can be such a pain in the ass.
Oh.
my God! Celia! I take back everything I just said.
Two commuters off the 7:00 a.
m.
ferry, they're the ones who found him.
Oh, that's a nice way to start the day.
Guy was shot twice.
Once in the stomach, once In the chest.
We found two shell casings on the ground near the body.
So, it was close range.
He's been here all night? Well, the body's cold, but with the wind chill off the river, it's hard to say.
Wait.
You said two shots? He got it again here.
Ah.
But there's no matching hole on the coat.
Coat was open when he got hit the second time.
Coat was covering the wound when we got here.
He have a wallet? We didn't find one.
Still got his watch, though.
Pretty fancy one, too.
So, the guy shoots him, he opens up his coat to take his wallet, make it look like it's a robbery, then he shoots him again.
I hate these repeat offenders.
BRISCOE: The M.
E.
says he checked out someplace between Any witnesses? Well, we handed a Polaroid around among some of the commuters.
So far, nobody recognized him.
No one called in any shots fired? It's a commercial area, it's pretty deserted at night.
Well, what about forensics? Well, we got two blue fibers, and we got two matching slugs, one was found in a fence, the other one in the ground underneath him.
Nine-millimeter.
The print lab lifted a partial from one of the shell casings but no hits.
According to the M.
E.
, he was shot once in the stomach, fell to his knees and then got hit a second time.
So whoever it was, took their time.
ED: But they didn't take his watch.
Not a very efficient robbery.
Well, he was shot up close and there's no sign of a struggle, so it could be personal.
Or maybe just a nasty surprise.
We still don't know who this man is? Well, we know one thing.
He was a cigar smoker.
Found this in his coat.
That's a Montecristo, series seven.
It's Dominican.
It's rare and very expensive.
So people try to counterfeit them.
So they put a second band underneath the first one, it has a registry number.
Oh, so we can trace it.
Yeah, it's always a plus when your vices pay off.
Take this nasty thing.
JAKE: Series seven.
They're up to 40 bucks a pop now, Eddie.
And me without my checkbook.
Your partner here, used to buy them by the box.
That was back in my high roller days.
Hey, Jake, Montecristo tracked this registry number to a lot that was sold to your store.
Well, I'm one of the only three places in Manhattan, that carries them.
Yeah, well you ever sell any to this guy? My only customers are three, four guys, who really know cigars.
I mean Maybe a poser now and then.
Oh, and JR's ordered, five boxes.
A month or so ago.
That's a cigar bar on 43rd and 10th.
It's close to the ferry.
All right, thanks, Jake.
It's good to see you.
Hey, Eddie.
Cohibas, Cuban.
Cheaper than series seven, but still, manna from heaven.
Nah.
He's on a whole different budget now.
JAKE: (LAUGHS) I see.
VICTOR: Sorry, I don't recognize him.
He might have bought one of your specialty cigars, a Montecristo series seven.
Maybe, our cigar steward can help you.
James! These two detectives would like a word with you.
Hi! Is this one of your customers? Maybe a series seven kind of guy? He was in last night with one other man.
Bought three series seven.
Gave me a $40 tip.
Did you get any names? But this one paid with a credit card.
You still got the receipt? Sure thing.
Haven't cashed out my tips yet.
A $40 tip for three cigars? If he sells five or six a night, James, here makes more in a week, than we make in a month.
JAMES: Here it is.
Thanks.
John Cooper.
Corporate Amex.
Dreisner Investments.
Time 8:15.
Uh, did he hang around at all after her paid? No, he just left.
ED: Did he leave alone or with the other guy? Uh, alone.
ED: We're gonna need all your receipts from last night.
Okay? No problem.
DREISNER: John was one of our top analysts.
Did he have any professional problems? I mean, anybody that held a grudge against him? Not here at Dreisner.
John was one of those guys who walks into a room, has everyone eating out of the palm of his hand, five minutes later.
Well, what time did he leave last night? I saw him get in the elevator, a little after 7:00.
I guess that was earlier than usual for him.
BRISCOE: What time was usual? God, has anybody told his wife and kids yet? He was married? Three kids.
They live up in Nyack.
LESLIE: This is so strange.
I can't believe he's really gone.
We're very sorry for your loss, Mrs.
Cooper.
Where did you find him? Near the ferry terminal.
Did your husband normally take the ferry? Yeah, he did.
He was probably on his way home.
I'm gonna let the girls get a snack.
Come on into the kitchen.
Your sister's been a big help.
Mrs.
Cooper, did your husband take the same ferry every day? The 8:00 a.
m.
in and the 8:30 home.
So somebody could have known his schedule.
I thought you said this was probably a robbery.
ED: Yeah.
We're just covering all the angles.
Well, she called the Nyack police and they said that there was no reason to worry.
When was that? LESLIE: When John didn't come home.
They said he had to be missing for 36 hours before they could investigate.
ED: What time did you call? This morning.
Around 4:00.
Can I ask why you didn't call the police until then? Well, I put the kids to bed and fell asleep on the couch.
Woke up around 3:00 and realized, John still wasn't home.
I waited a little while, then I called And then she called me.
Mrs.
Cooper, did your husband have any enemies? I mean, anybody that might want to hurt him.
No one I can think of.
GEORGINA: I think we should go spend some time with the kids now.
I mean, if that's okay? BRISCOE: Oh, sure.
We'll be in touch if anything comes up.
Hey, you want me to see if they'll hold the 8:30 ferry tonight? Yeah.
If they let you bring your Dramamine.
Well, hopefully, one of these Wall Street commuters, saw Cooper last night.
Even better if they saw him get killed.
CARL: That's Coop there.
It's unbelievable.
We lost a lot of guys on 9/11.
I kept setting up their beers for weeks.
And now this.
I walked right past that body this morning.
Had no idea it was Coop.
So, you guys didn't hear anything last night? CARL: I had music going, Knicks were on.
Plus we had the game.
Jeez, Hank.
What game was that? CARL: We got a friendly little poker game, every Wednesday night.
Sometimes if we dock at the last stop, one of the crew guys joins in, we keep playing.
Coop never made the boat.
Neither did O'Mann.
Shut him off, Carl.
ED: Who's O'Mann? O'Mann's a jerk off.
O'Mann likes to think of himself as the go to guy whenever a player runs out of cash.
Takes the game a little seriously.
Doesn't sound like a friendly game to me.
Not between Cooper and O'Mann.
They nearly had a fist fight last week.
ED: What, did Cooper owe him money? Uh, I'd take that seriously, too.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR) O'MANN: Who is it? The tooth fairy.
Open up.
It's 10:30.
What's this about? ED: You Peter O'Mann? Yeah.
BRISCOE: Put some clothes on, we're gonna take a little field trip to the city.
You have a warrant? ED: We got a better hand than that.
Five witnesses to you being a loan shark.
Which means that if we come back with a warrant, it'll be to arrest you instead of just having a conversation.
Let's go.
Yeah, he owed me 50K, so what? So what? That's a lot of loot.
Coop was good for it.
Not anymore.
Look.
I didn't even know he was dead until you guys showed up.
I was out sick today.
I have a cold.
What about last night? I missed the boat.
I ended up on a late bus.
A lawyer on a bus? So what happened, you got into it on the pier? You were pissed because he wouldn't pony up, you pulled out your gun? Never happened.
Your visa, puts you at the same Cigar Bar as Cooper, last night.
Yeah, I met up with him there.
I had a reason for meeting up with John.
And what would that be? I can't tell you that.
It's privileged.
ED: Privileged? As in attorney-client.
I was John's lawyer.
VAN BUREN: O'Mann was his lawyer? BRISCOE: Yeah, the guy says Cooper called him.
Said he knew he owed him a lot of money, but he was in real trouble, needed help.
VAN BUREN: Why? ED: He wouldn't say.
He's claiming privilege.
VAN BUREN: Well, his client's dead.
BRISCOE: Doesn't matter.
Whatever the issue is, it affects Cooper's estate.
VAN BUREN: Do we have any idea, if he's telling the truth? Well, he gave up his prints.
And? No match on the partial we lifted off the shell casing.
Well, where is this lawyer now? We released him.
Told him not to make any plane reservations.
Why would this victim consult a lawyer? We checked BCI, FBI, New York State Police.
We got nothing so far.
Well, maybe it was a civil matter.
The guy's a criminal lawyer.
Well, Cooper was a stock analyst.
What about the SEC? We opened an investigation on Mr.
Cooper about six months ago.
What about? He was one of the major analysts on Everson Technologies.
The one that's on the front page of all the papers? Mmm-hmm.
The one that just went under.
My hugest headache right now.
So why look into Cooper? Do you guys know what a stock analyst does? Strong buy, buy, hold, sell.
This horse is two to one, that horse is three to one.
It's the same thing.
You're absolutely right.
Those ratings only mean something if the analyst is truly independent.
Are you saying Cooper was in bed with Everson Technologies? Well, there were rumors to that effect based on his analysis of their stock.
'Cause he rated it a strong buy.
Yes.
And he was one of the only ones who continued to do so, even after questions started to arise about their accounting practices.
So what's your read on Cooper? Was he crooked? Well, all I know is we've had this Everson employee over here for months, screaming about how Cooper must be on the take.
BRISCOE: Any chance he would have taken matters into his own hands? He was pretty irate.
ED: How irate? Irate, irate.
I worked at Everson 32 years.
Had a pension worth now it's worth nine.
Well, what makes you think that John Cooper had anything to do with that? He was fraternity brothers with The CFO of Everson.
They played golf together, their kids went to the same school.
Well, if playing golf with somebody means they're on the take, we'd have to arrest all of Wall Street.
Cooper was one of the only analysts to keep his rating a strong buy as the stock tanked.
He must have been taking kickbacks the whole time.
I can't prove it, but I know it.
Yeah, but why care? I mean What effect could Cooper have all by himself? People look for any reason not to sell a high-flying stock.
Dreisen's opinion matters.
Where were you the night before last? My sister's house.
There was a big party, for my niece's 18th birthday.
Why, you think I killed him? Well, you do seem to be worked up into a lather over the guy.
Cooper helped keep the stock price artificially high so company insiders could cash out.
Leave the rest of us holding the bag.
I can think of 20,000 people who'd like to see him six feet under.
The guy seemed pissed, but he didn't seem homicidal.
So what now? checks? No.
We narrow it down.
He went to the SEC to complain about Cooper.
Maybe the other's went directly to him.
Let's talk to his secretary, see who Cooper's other fans were.
I took over from company clients demanding to speak with John, once Everson's stock tanked.
So much for narrowing it down.
Were there any unusual calls the day he was murdered? The SEC called at 11:15 a.
m.
Well, that's Angela Harkin.
That's right.
He was in a meeting, but he had me call her back about 15 minutes later.
They talked for awhile.
BRISCOE: Anything else out of the ordinary? Not really.
Well, right after, he hung up with the SEC, he had me set up a lunch meeting with Justin Brenner.
Who's Justin Brenner? The CFO of Everson Technologies.
Did Mr.
Cooper make the meeting? Yes.
Left about 12:45.
He happen to mention what it was about? No, but it seemed important.
He told me not to patch any calls through to his cell.
I'm guessing they weren't talking about golf.
BRENNER: John Cooper and I knew each other socially.
That's all.
When was the last time you saw him? I haven't seen him in days.
BRISCOE: Well, we know you took a phone call from him the day before yesterday.
And we know you had lunch with him.
We traced your credit card and your waiter was kind enough to identify you.
This is ridiculous.
I had lunch with him, so what? So, you had lunch with a guy, right after he talks to the SEC about allegations that you two were in bed together.
ED: And then he ends up getting killed.
You know, having the SEC breathing down your neck is one thing, but this is a homicide investigation.
This has gotten so out of hand.
ED: This will get so much more out of hand if I gotta drag your ass out of here in handcuffs.
I didn't have anything to do with John Cooper's death.
Then why lie about going to lunch with him? Mr.
Cooper's firm earns a substantial percentage underwriting bond offerings for Everson technologies.
He called on Wednesday, said the SEC had contacted him.
And that scared you? Of course, it did.
BRISCOE: So what'd you do to keep his mouth shut? I didn't do anything, except to assure him that we appreciated his strong buy ratings throughout the past few months.
And I told him that Everson would guarantee Dreisner's underwriting fees despite any bankruptcy filings.
The guy's license might have been in jeopardy.
I think he might have wanted a little more assurance than that.
I didn't need to give it.
He was a partner at Dreisner.
He shared in the profits.
Look, why would I kill John? He works with a whole team of people.
I don't know how many of them knew what was going on.
Or how many were benefiting from our business.
This is not something that can be solved by killing a man.
Oh, I don't know, I think if we shot a couple of your board members, this kind of thing probably wouldn't happen again.
I'll tell you the same thing I told the SEC.
Feel free to investigate everything I ever wrote, said, did.
I had no idea what was going on with Everson Technologies.
Wait.
How could you not? You were John Cooper's second in command.
And I was the one who kept questioning John's recommendations.
But he met with company officials, so I presumed he knew things I didn't.
What about other people on the team? Well, if there was anything going on, I can't imagine anyone else was in on it.
None of us told friends and family to sell Everson stock, which we would have, if we knew the stock was worthless.
BRISCOE: And Cooper told his family to sell? Actually, I don't think he told them anything.
So, what? He just let them lose their shirts along with everybody else? ED: Did anybody in Cooper's family get hit really hard? His brother-in-law, Russell Woods.
He bought 2,500 shares at $81 a share.
Now it's worth about He lost almost $200,000.
Now that sure would make me want to hurt somebody.
Hey, I'd kill one of my ex brother-in-laws for free.
Apparently when the stock started to tank, for whatever reason, Cooper wouldn't return Woods' calls.
So, why didn't he just tell him to sell? Well, maybe he thought that if he told his family members to sell, would make him look suspicious.
Or maybe he's just a jerk.
Well, did this brother-in-law know about the mutually beneficial arrangement between Everson and Driesner Investments? That's what we'd like to know.
Well, pick him up and find out.
Hey, Lennie.
Check out what he's wearing.
Blue coat.
BRISCOE: Russell Woods? Yes.
NYPD.
The police.
Yeah, man.
We need to talk to you about your brother-in-law.
What do you wanna know? We just have some follow-up.
You want to come with us down to the precinct? Why? Well, we can talk about it right here, if you'd rather not.
No, no.
I guess the precinct would be better.
Cover me, will you, Tommy? TOMMY: Sure.
And call my wife.
All right.
BRISCOE: That was a whole lot of money you lost on Everson technologies.
ED: It could've been your kids' college savings.
It was a lot of money.
So maybe you wanted some payback.
I don't know what you mean.
Oh, I don't know.
I find out my brother-in-law set me up, risked my kid's future, I think I might be a little angry.
Especially if this brother-in-law kept recommending stock to me even after he knew the company was tanking.
John did that? Oh, come on.
You know how much he made off of Everson.
I have no idea what you're talking about.
He was paid to keep recommending Everson stock.
I never knew that Here's this rich stock analyst married to my wife's sister.
Yeah, and me just a working stiff hoping to make a little bit off a tip from John.
Only you find out that he's artificially propping up Everson's stock prices on your back.
So you confront him.
You demand your money back.
Look, I have no idea what you guys are talking about.
I don't, I really don't.
Well, now, that's really funny, Mr.
Woods.
Because we just matched your finger prints, from your job records, to one found on a shell casing, at the scene.
And I'm betting we can match a fiber off your coat.
I think you just lost a little bit more than a 401K, buddy.
What are you doing? Russell Woods, you're under arrest, for the murder of John Cooper.
You have the right to remain silent.
Woods lawyered up once we placed him under arrest.
Did he make any kind of statement before that? Nothing but a whole lot of acting like he didn't know what we were talking about.
Well, how did he act when you told him about the fingerprint? That's pretty much when he stopped talking.
SERENA: Where are we on motive? I mean, he obviously didn't kill his brother-in-law because of a few unreturned phone calls.
Well, the man lost his life savings.
SERENA: Yeah, but why now? ED: The papers just started running stories that the company was filing for bankruptcy.
BRISCOE: Yeah, which means, he probably knew he'd never be able to recoup his losses.
Well and we figured once he realized that, it turned into whole new level of rage.
Well, it sounds like I should have a talk with the victim's wife find out what kind of relationship these two had.
I just think you have the wrong man.
That's all I'm saying.
I understand that it's hard to accept that your brother-in-law could do this, but we have pretty hard evidence against him.
I can't believe that's true.
We found his fingerprint, on the shell casing.
What? And a fiber that matched his work coat.
Oh.
my God! So, Mrs.
Cooper, I have to ask you Maybe someone's framing him.
Have you looked into that? Did you ever hear your brother-in-law talk to your husband about Everson Technologies? Everson Technologies? What has that got to do with anything? Russell lost his entire Investment.
And you think that's why he killed John? He lost his savings, his future, his retirement.
No.
You don't know Russell.
He's a gentle person.
Well, everybody has their limits, Mrs.
Cooper.
It was a lot of money.
I never heard Russell ever say anything about money to John.
It just wasn't like him.
In fact, Russell and Georgina have offered to help me.
Mom? LESLIE: Everything's okay, honey.
This lady's just asking me some questions about Uncle Russell.
Why don't you go start your homework.
I'll be there in a minute.
He's had a pretty rough time.
I understand.
You know, I should probably start dinner.
I don't know, it was just something about the way she was acting.
Like she was more upset about her brother-in-law's arrest than she was about her own husband.
She could be in shock.
Maybe you're right.
How strongly do you feel about this? It's just my instinct tells me there's more going on here.
Then go with it.
Have Briscoe and Green follow-up with the neighbors.
Thanks, Jack.
Yeah.
How well did you know them? Mostly through our kids.
I have a boy their son's age.
We talk at school and things like that.
What about the husband? He never came to those things.
Not much worse than the other Dads, though.
If you know what I mean.
Maybe they're just working.
Maybe.
What about the Cooper's relationship? What do you mean? I mean, how would you describe their marriage.
Was it stable? (SIGHS) Now and again we heard them fighting.
What? From across the street? It's a small neighborhood.
Sometimes it was pretty hard to ignore.
In fact, I heard it through the grapevine that they were headed for divorce.
ED: When did you hear that? Couple of years ago.
I guess kids have a way of making you work things out.
She filed for divorce three years ago.
On what grounds? Emotional distress.
That's the catchall.
She withdrew her petition, a few months later.
People change their minds all the time.
Especially if murdering her husband might be an easier option than divorcing him.
We still have a few more days before we go to grand jury.
Stay on it.
Look at this.
Calls from the Cooper house to Russell Woods over the past two weeks.
Well, it could just be two sisters gabbing on the phone.
The calls are to his work phone.
Well, maybe it's family business.
Thirty calls? Hey, check this out.
Call from Russell Woods' cell phone to Leslie Cooper the night of the murder.
Yeah, but how do we know it's Russell, not his wife? He's got one of those phones with GPS technology.
Whoever called, called from three blocks away from where Cooper was shot.
Confirmation call.
There's only one good reason for the two of them to get together to kill her husband.
Mmm-hmm.
So the wife of a wealthy analyst takes up with her broke brother-in-law? Only they wouldn't have been broke for long.
John Cooper had a million dollar life insurance policy.
She told me she hadn't got much money, but I did some checking.
His estate was worth close to $3 million.
Even with the money, phone calls and a suspicious demeanor won't be enough to prove a conspiracy.
It's a start.
Briscoe and Green's arrest report indicated the sister was pretty supportive in the initial interview.
Because she didn't know about the affair.
Let's get them in the same room together, see if one of them cracks.
I still have no idea why you asked us to come here.
We have information that pertains to the both of you.
What information? SERENA: Mrs.
Cooper? I have no idea what you're talking about.
We're talking about your relationship with Russell Woods.
What relationship? SERENA: According to the phone company, your sister placed over in the last week.
I call my husband from my sister's house all the time, so what? While you're at work? Look, what are you implying? JACK: We're not implying anything.
We're just looking for an explanation for these calls.
Were you having an affair with your brother-in-law, Mrs.
Cooper? That is ridiculous.
You don't know what you're talking about.
JACK: We also have records showing that your husband called your sister from his cell phone immediately after he shot Mr.
Cooper.
That is my cell phone.
I called my sister.
Not according to the cell phone company.
They place the phone less than three blocks from the ferry terminal where Mr.
Cooper was shot.
They can pinpoint the exact location.
You've already arrested Russell.
Isn't that enough? SERENA: I know this can't be easy for you.
If you have a reason for protecting them, it can only do more harm than good.
Your husband is facing a charge that carries the death penalty.
Oh, my God! This is getting out of hand, Georgina.
GEORGINA: No, no, no, no, wait.
LESLIE: No.
I can't let you do this.
I can't let Russell take responsibility for this alone.
Well, maybe Russell will be okay.
No.
It's enough.
(SIGHS) This is all my fault.
If you're going to blame anyone, blame me.
Leslie! Blame you because you put Mr.
Woods up to killing your husband.
But he didn't do it for the reason you think.
She was a battered wife? She claims her husband had been beating her on and off for 15 years.
So she stayed home with her kids and Had her brother-in-law pull the trigger for her.
Well, why would he agree to do that in the first place? Well, according to her, because of the abuse.
Except she admits she offered him part of the proceeds of a million dollar life insurance policy once it was done.
A battered spouse who hires a hit man.
That's one for the books.
What about her sister? We might have accessory after the fact.
But if she was involved beforehand, we can't prove it.
Not unless they all roll over.
Is it true, about the abuse? SERENA: So far, I haven't been able to find a shred of evidence to support it.
No police records and I also checked her local hospital.
A play for sympathy.
LEWIN: Well, let's stop her before she even tries it.
Move to preclude the defense.
I'd rather find out what they have now than in front of a jury.
JACK: This defendant hired her brother-in-law to shoot a man in the street.
If that's self-defense, maybe I've been confused all these years.
No.
Battered wife syndrome, Judge.
A psychiatrist will testify and explain why she thought her husband was about to kill her, why she didn't leave the relationship.
SERENA: Except there's one thing missing here.
She wasn't abused.
What about it, Mr.
Weaver? Was your client abused or not? You tell me.
Mrs.
Cooper has been seen in four different hospitals on eight different occasions during the course of her marriage.
She's had a ruptured spleen, a bruised liver, a broken arm and a sprained knee.
Judge, I checked with her local area hospital.
She was never treated there.
That's because she was too embarrassed.
She went to different ERs so she wouldn't have to deal with the same people.
We've got all the records.
Her sister took those pictures.
I've seen enough.
I'm inclined to allow the defense to be presented.
The People request the opportunity to have the defendant examined by our psychiatrist.
Judge, we're not asserting diminished capacity or mental disease or defect.
But you want a psychiatrist to explain the effects, battering can have on a woman's perceptions.
The People should be allowed to determine for themselves what those effects were.
LEWIN: If the jury gets one look at these photos they're gonna think they would have killed him, too.
What we're talking about is revenge, not self-defense.
Well, maybe.
But every woman, every person on the jury, who sees these photos are gonna think he got what he deserved.
Well, we don't pick our victims, Nora.
No.
But sometimes we cut a deal.
JACK: Which we already have.
Russell Woods pled to murder two this morning and Georgina pled to an accessory charge.
No.
I'm talking about Leslie Cooper.
How much of a discount do you want to give her? I was thinking to man one.
JACK: What kind of a message does that send? When things get bad, hire a hit man, you get a bargain at indictment time.
He wasn't a hit man.
He was her brother-in-law.
She still arranged for someone to jump her husband and pump two bullets into him.
Well, I'm not talking about giving her a medal.
But they'll have an expert witness who'll testify that everything she did was reasonable.
And we'll have one who says it wasn't.
LEWIN: Jack, that guarantees us nothing.
I just don't think this is a case we should go to verdict on.
If she gets herself acquitted, the next case these defense lawyers will push, might actually be a hit man.
I don't think she will win.
And I think she could.
Make this one go away.
You gotta be kidding me.
Fifteen to life? Did we see the same photos? Your client should be aware that if she turns this plea down, we will present murder one to the grand jury.
Capital charges? Hiring a hit man fits squarely within the murder one statute.
We've got a woman here who was severely battered on an almost daily basis.
The jury is gonna hate your victim and wanna jump up and hug her.
SERENA: She planned it out, she took her time.
I can't go to jail for 15 years.
JACK: You owe it to your client to explain to her how unrealistic she's being.
We could go to trial, get an acquittal, at worst, man two.
More likely, your client will spend the rest of her life in prison.
I just can't take a plea.
I won't do that to my children.
They need a mother.
Up until now, they've been taking care of me.
I won't just leave them Not now.
Hey, Jack.
Jack, I just checked the trial calendar.
Leslie Cooper's name is still on it.
She turned down our offer.
What was it? Fifteen to life.
Well, what was the counter? It never got that far.
Jack, I thought I made it pretty clear, I wanted this one to go away.
I didn't think that meant you wanted me to give away the courthouse.
Well, it's better that we give away the courthouse than some defense attorney takes it.
If we lose this case at trial, we're gonna see this defense over and over and over again.
All I can do is try the case in front of me.
Yeah, unfortunately, I have to look a little further down the road.
Has Skoda met with her yet? This afternoon.
Well, we better hope he gives us what we need to convict this woman.
This case is gonna be a lot harder to win than you seem to think it is.
Did she have the crap beaten out of her? Medical records say yes.
Did she fear for her life when she hired her brother-in-law to whack her husband.
Who knows.
In other words, she didn't suffer from battered woman's syndrome.
It's a subjective standard.
I need something more solid than that if I'm gonna put you in front of a jury.
She describes some of the characteristics.
Feeling panicky all the time, heightened awareness of changes in his mood, feeling like he could control her.
But she also planned this out and hired someone to do it.
Which seems pretty calculating and inconsistent with the syndrome.
She definitely doesn't fit the textbook definition.
SERENA: Yeah.
She had a college education.
She had a career before she had kids.
I think she could have figured out how to call the police.
Battered women can appear competent and functional, yet they still feel powerless on a day-to-day basis.
But there has to be a difference between defending yourself against an imminent threat and launching a preemptive strike.
Look, whether what she did was reasonable or not is your department.
What I can say is, from a psychological standpoint, there are aspects of her behavior that just don't fit the syndrome.
Like enlisting the help of someone else.
I mean, if this woman can claim she had battered woman's syndrome, I don't know who can't.
Her psychiatrist claims she feared for her life.
She paid for that opinion.
Well, the opinion we're paying for has told you that there's no way to determine whether or not her actions are reasonable.
What Skoda said is that it would be irresponsible to call them reasonable.
Well, why should a jury believe his opinion is right? How do you make a determination about any person's conduct? You look at the circumstances.
Except these circumstances have pictures which a jury is likely to see.
JACK: What I'm gonna show them is a woman who knew she had friends she could go to for safety, and instead, used them to kill her husband.
Or they'll see a battered woman without any other options.
That sounds an awful lot like a special standard for women.
If she were a man, she could never claim self-defense.
If she were a man, she wouldn't have been beaten by her husband.
A good defense attorney's not gonna let a jury forget that.
Still, there have to be limits, Nora, for men and women.
Juries have already acquitted wives who've shot their husbands while they've slept.
If hiring a hit man's next, where do you draw the line? JACK: We've let these groups chip away with these special circumstances.
If we don't stop it, when people feel threatened, they won't call the police, they'll call a hit man.
I hope a jury sees it your way.
JACK: What was the cause of death of John Cooper? Primary cause of death was asphyxiation.
He choked on his own blood.
Secondary cause of death was exsanguination.
He bled to death.
How did he bleed to death? From two gunshot wounds one to the chest, the other to the stomach.
Judge, we're willing to stipulate to the manner of Mr.
Coopers death.
The People have the right to put this evidence before the jury.
It goes directly to the defendant's claim of self-defense.
Door's wide open, Counselor.
The People may proceed.
JACK: How long would it have taken Mr.
Cooper to die? RODGERS: Several minutes.
Is it your opinion that Mr.
Cooper was in pain? Given that he actually choked on his own blood before bleeding to death, I'd say yes.
He was in severe pain and died slowly.
Dr.
Rodgers, your testimony relates solely to the manner in which Mr.
Cooper died.
Is that correct? Yes.
It says nothing about whether that death was justified.
No.
No further questions.
Just tell the truth.
That's all you have to do, okay? ANTHONY: I guess.
You don't like having to tell us about your dad, do you, Anthony? No.
Why not? You're not hurting your father.
It's okay to tell the truth.
My dad hit my mom.
A lot.
WEAVER: And what else did he do? He yelled at her.
Said mean things.
Mean things? Stuff.
You know, like, I can't say.
Did he ever hit you, Anthony, or your sisters? Sometimes.
WEAVER: How did that make you feel? ANTHONY: Afraid.
But I guess maybe we kind of deserved it.
I mean, I don't know, sort of.
WEAVER: Thank you, Anthony.
No questions.
The beatings had gotten especially bad lately.
He was coming home from work really stressed out a lot.
He was angry all the time, and when he was angry, he hit.
Did you report him to the police? I did once back in Pennsylvania where we used to live.
The police came, made him leave the house.
But he was back home the next day and even more angry.
What about just leaving? I tried, many times.
I went to my mother's house.
He showed up in her kitchen.
If I went to my sister's, he'd bang on the doors, scare her kids.
I started feeling like I was making their lives miserable.
What happened the week before you asked your brother-in-law to kill him? One night, John looked at me and said, "You know what I'm gonna do? "I'm gonna kill you and then I'm going to Hawaii.
" WEAVER: What did that make you think? LESLIE: That he was going to do it.
There was just something in his eyes, the way he said it.
I thought, "If I don't kill him, I won't live.
" And what did you do? I borrowed a gun from a friend.
One night, while he was sleeping, I tried to shoot him.
I stood there and pointed the gun, but I just couldn't fire.
So, the next week, I asked Russell if he could do it.
He said yes.
WEAVER: Mrs.
Cooper, do you regret what you did? I regret that it had to happen.
But to tell you the truth, I feel relieved.
For the first time in my life, I feel safe.
WEAVER: Your Honor, at this time, I'd ask that the photos previously admitted into evidence be published to the jury.
She's selling the fact that she didn't have any other options.
She's not selling it to me.
She had choices before she decided to have her husband killed.
She shouldn't be able to rely on the law now, not after the fact.
What choices does a woman in that situation really have? (SIGHS) If someone hit me, I would leave.
And if I couldn't, I'd hit them back.
Well, not everyone takes Tae Bo.
Yes, saying there's no differences between us doesn't make it true.
But women are cops, firefighters, combat pilots.
We cannot assert our physical equality in the workplace and then claim to be overpowered in our homes.
The fact is I don't have to answer the question whether a battered woman can leave or not.
Just whether she can hire her brother-in-law to kill her husband.
Okay.
If you want to convict her, you're gonna have to do better than argue whether or not he beat her doesn't matter.
You're gonna have to convict her for an entirely different reason.
He's already pled to the top count.
If we find anything he says here to be helpful, I have no problem making a favorable sentencing recommendation.
Okay.
I did what I did.
I'm not gonna drag Leslie down with me.
Only it seems she's the one that dragged you down, Mr.
Woods.
I did what I thought was right.
JACK: Then why the money? He was taking kickbacks.
Did you know that? Papers can call it commissions or whatever.
But it was a pay-off.
Plain and simple.
People like me lost whatever future we had.
JACK: You were angry.
Damn right I was angry.
Is that why you agreed to kill him? RUSSELL: He was beating her up all the time.
She'd come over, go back.
Over and over.
It wasn't gonna stop.
JACK: These beatings were going on for years.
Why would she ask you to kill him now? I don't know.
Maybe Leslie just couldn't take it anymore.
Or maybe she was waiting for you to hate him as much as she did.
JACK: Earlier in your testimony, you said that your husband threatened your life.
Threatened to kill you and go to Hawaii.
Yes.
Only, he didn't do that, did he? Instead, a week went by.
Yes.
A week in which you lived in the same house? Slept in the same bed? I told you, I couldn't leave.
Couldn't or wouldn't? Three years ago, you filed for divorce.
LESLIE: Yes.
So, you were aware that divorce was an option.
I guess.
Did you ever report your husband's threat to the police? LESLIE: I didn't think they'd help.
Never told a neighbor.
I was too embarrassed.
But not too embarrassed to ask your brother-in-law to kill your husband.
Russell saw what went on.
JACK: But he only agreed to kill him once you promised him part of that life insurance money.
Isn't that right? John was stealing his money.
You knew that? LESLIE: I found it out.
But you never warned your brother-in-law it was happening.
Did you? Instead, you waited until it was the right time to tell him.
No.
Because you needed him to be as angry as you were.
I was afraid.
Doesn't sound like fear.
It sounds more like revenge.
You have no idea what he put me through.
You were tired of being his punching bag.
Yes, anybody would be.
And the way to get all that to stop, was to stay.
To stay there and get him.
Only that's not self-defense, is it? JUDGE: Has the jury reached a verdict? We have, Your Honor.
JUDGE: What is your verdict? "In the matter of the People against Leslie Cooper, "we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
" Oh! ANTHONY: Mom.
Leslie Cooper's lawyer just gave a press conference.
He declared today's verdict a victory for all battered women.
Just the encouragement abused women need.
Don't seek help, don't leave, hire a hit man instead.
The jury obviously didn't believe she had any other options.
They ignored the facts.
The woman was beaten, Jack.
Repeatedly.
Maybe they just didn't ignore the facts you wanted them to.
SERENA: In the end, I'm not sure a verdict like this doesn't just sell women short.
It reinforces the notion of a helpless female forced to enlist a man to solve her problems.
Not that helpless.
She got away with murder.