The Guardian (2001) s01e13 Episode Script

Privilege

[Groans] [Sighs] [Clang] [Sizzling] Ohhh! Hungry? Yeah.
Thanks.
[Grunts] So, we, uh, got a little beat up last night, huh? You know, I've been thinking.
I think you better Come back to work for me.
[Groans] Working for McGee was not that great an idea in my opinion.
You need a little structure in your life.
Yeah.
What about syrup? Thanks.
Here you go.
So if you want I could call McGee today and just, uh, explain the situation.
No.
I'll do it.
Ok.
Ooh.
Eat up, son.
We're late for a funeral.
Burton: I watched Susan grow up.
Pretty girl.
Very smart.
We all had high hopes for her.
Nick: What happened? She married ray Harper, her college Professor.
He turned her against her family.
Do you think he had a hand in her drowning? Police are still investigating.
Ray was the only one anywhere near.
What's the estate worth? Wendy.
Sorry about your sister, honey.
Thank you, Mr.
fallin.
Ok.
Frank, I'm so sorry about Susan.
I'm Nick.
I'm--I'm Burton's son.
I'm sorry for your loss.
[Clears throat] Excuse me.
Dawn, I'm so sorry.
Thank you for coming.
It means so much to have you here.
I'm sorry about your wife, ray.
So sorry.
Thank you, Mr.
fallin.
I want you to meet my son, Nick.
Nick, nice to meet you.
This is ray Harper.
Hi, ray.
I'm sorry.
It would mean a lot to Susan to see so many of her father's friends here today.
I'm sure it would.
Yeah.
Excuse me.
Frank wants to talk to us.
[Cell phone rings] Can you just hold a minute, James? Nick, are you serious with that thing? I need to take this.
No, no.
You don't.
I'll be right there.
I need to take it.
In here.
James.
Uh, yeah, I need you to cover for me.
her mother's been hospitalized.
The shelter hearing takes place today in judge bright's courtroom.
Ok, I really appreciate it.
Oh, I'm sorry.
I-- I'm not gonna kill myself, if that's what you're thinking.
Judge: I am sentencing you to 1,500 hours of community service using your skills as a corporate attorney to work as a child advocate.
Dawn: Burton.
Ray killed my baby.
That monster Killed my baby.
We don't know that.
He did it.
[Knock on door] I'm sorry.
Frank: After Susan married Frank, she gave up horses, she gave up piano.
She turned her back on everything she loved.
I figured that ray was after her money, so I got a will drawn up, leaving her wealth to the family trust.
Susan had this drawn up.
It, uh-- it leaves everything to ray.
They found a lawyer in a mall-- byrnes & brown-- paid $200 for an $11 million estate.
Burton: Well, we'll look into this.
Can you get it thrown out? Well, the investigation is still open, but if ray were convicted, they'd throw that out in a second.
Well, what if the police can't make a case? We could make a settlement offer to Mr.
Harper before the police make up their minds.
Never.
Actually, I, uh I think Nick has a point.
Well, first, let us just take a look at this, Frank.
Mr.
fallin? Yeah.
I have to write this essay about my career interests for school.
Mm-hmm.
I was wondering, um, could I stop by your offices and ask some questions about law? Sure, you could.
Yeah.
We'd love to have you.
Absolutely.
It seems fascinating.
It is.
Mm-hmm.
So many secrets.
Ok.
Anytime.
Thanks.
Bye-bye.
Good morning.
Morning.
Uh, you know, that, uh, thing that I said, uh, last night.
The thing I said about you and me.
Nick, with the-- I had a few drinks, and I didn't mean to-- to--to--to--I wasn't-- I was not implying that we should ever-- I mean, 'cause I'm a professional and we work together.
I know.
It's-- it's really ok.
Ok.
So we're ok on that? Yeah.
We're ok.
All right.
What are you doing for dinner? Just kidding.
[Laughs] James: Right.
I understand that, but it clearly says it on docket 6087.
You got a second? Not really.
What do you know about kids that cut themselves? Hold on.
What are you talking about? Razor blades.
Cutters? Yeah, we've had our share come through here.
Cutters.
Are they suicidal? Depends.
Shrink says they're inflicting physical pain to cover up emotional pain.
Teenage girls, mostly.
Who is it? Just a kid.
Well, she should get some help.
Yeah.
Yeah.
What are you doing here? Volunteering.
Hey, Nick, what happened to your face? I walked into a door.
Does my father know you're here? Uh, well, we have to do pro Bono work.
This is how I'm doing mine.
He doesn't know.
You know, you should get back to the firm.
Don't your clients realize that they're paying for all of this stuff? This will your work? Yes.
Do you remember the clients? Of course.
Water? Please.
Who did all the talking? [Laughs] They both did.
Take a seat.
[Clears throat] You realize that the man is under investigation for the murder of his wife? I read the papers.
You didn't think it was unusual that you were being asked to draft a will on an $11 million estate? Why? [Laughs] That's a nice ad.
How many wills have you written? A few.
I've done over a thousand.
Tomorrow, you'll be served a subpoena to turn over all the notes you used in preparation.
And we will contest the will.
A good lawyer can work out of a mall, Mr.
fallin.
I'll pit my $200 will against anything you care to throw at it.
The $200 will looks solid.
Right.
So, uh, what's next? We either settle out or we try to look for evidence that she wasn't competent to sign a will.
Well, Nick, I mean, you can be half out of your mind, write a will on a ham sandwich, and still have it hold up in court, so-- Ray's not a lawyer.
He doesn't know that.
And what would you do, Nick? Scare him into a settlement.
Yeah.
You and your father, man.
Why don't you just see if the family trust provides a way around the will.
Look, last week, you were at each other's throats.
You stood right here and you quit.
And--and now it's like nothing happened.
Nothing happened.
Ah, Louisa archer, Amanda bowles.
Amanda works with Nick over at fallin.
Ah, Lulu.
Nice to meet you.
Hi.
She wants to give us Great.
You want to start right now? Really? Yeah.
Have fun.
Thanks.
So, her name's Ruth stern, she's 87 years old, and her doctor is suing her for $34,000 in unpaid medical bills.
Miss stern? Mrs.
stern.
I was married for 52 years.
Mrs.
stern.
My name is Amanda bowles.
I'm your attorney.
Your legs are thin.
The color of your hair is beautiful.
Is it dyed? Uh May I feel your waist? Oh, it's firm.
Good.
Mrs.
stern.
You keep in shape.
I hear you have a problem you need to discuss.
Yes.
Dr.
ettinger.
He's my specialist for my back.
He tells me I have spurs and herniated discs.
Yes.
But he says I don't have to live with the pain.
He tells me he has a pain management clinic.
Ok.
So I start to go 3 days a week.
And the pain goes away for a while, but then it always comes back.
So I keep going to him for a year, and sometimes I go 5 days a week.
And then he sends me this bill-- $34,000.
They say I have be in court on Friday.
I'm going to lose everything I have.
Everything.
Ok, Ms.
stern.
Let me review this.
Oh.
Oh.
Well, when shall we talk again? Call me.
Anytime.
Oh.
Mr.
Harper? This is a new low.
Do you know how I spent my morning? Calling old friends.
One after another I had to break the news.
Mr.
Harper, you got Susan to change her will so that everything comes to you, and then she dies.
I didn't kill my wife.
You should settle.
If, uh-- if they file charges, chances are you'll wind up with nothing.
There's a chance I could bring Frank newburg down with me.
You have no idea the things I know.
You have no idea.
What was Susan's state of mind when, um, when the will was drawn up? Frank: Why? Do you want to suggest she was insane? Legally incompetent To complete a will.
Can you win something like that? I did once Some man thought his wife was Satan and that he was Jesus when he signed the will.
We got it thrown out.
Look, Susan was troubled.
But I mean, bringing all this into court would be like killing her a second time.
Do it.
I'll contest the will.
Your sister Susan prepared her will in June 2001.
Did you see her often that summer? Oh, sure.
All the time.
Did she seem happy? Susan was never happy.
Can you give me some specific examples? One time--I think it was last June-- she told me she was the virgin Mary.
The virgin Mary? From the Bible.
Jesus' mother.
And she told me ray was the angel of death.
[Sighs] Nick: Thank you.
No further questions.
Your father set up a trust for you and your sister? I guess.
How much do you know about that trust? Not a lot.
Did you know that the money that your sister had comprises exactly half of that trust? I guess.
And if you and your family were to take your sister's money away from Mr.
Harper, who do you think would get that money? I don't know.
Care to guess? My mom and dad? Care to guess again? Me? Bingo.
Well, that was a disaster.
Well, we can appeal it to another trial judge.
You think that's gonna make a difference? Depends on-- sorry I missed it.
I was--I got caught up in--sorry.
You want to show me your office? Yeah.
Why don't you do that, son? Give her a little tour of the whole place.
Sure.
Yeah.
Dawn? God.
I could really use a drink.
Take care of that.
Yes, Mr.
fallin.
Did I show you my, uh My new necklace? What? Everything that you said-- I said what I was supposed to say, Mr.
fallin.
Are you angry with me? You can tell me the truth.
No, I can't.
There's this thing called attorney/client privilege.
I'm not your client.
My dad is.
You are as well.
In regards to this will and your trust, you're my client.
So what does attorney/client privilege mean? You can tell me the truth, and not only can no one make me tell them what you said, I'm prohibited by law.
Oh.
So, you mean, like, if I tell you a secret and then you tell on me, you could go to jail or something? Or lose my license to practice.
Yeah.
Last summer I stole a boat with my friends.
I got drunk and I crashed it into my neighbor's dock.
And then, like, I stole some make-up.
I shoved it down my pants.
And until last month, I had a 28-year-old boyfriend.
And you cut yourself.
Yeah.
Why do you do that? [Laughs] I'm just bored, Mr.
fallin.
It's nothing tragic.
I'm just really, really bored.
And your sister? My sister was crazy, but she didn't think she was the virgin Mary.
Believe me.
Neither of us are that.
You know you perjured yourself? Are you gonna tell on me? Thank you.
Mrs.
stern.
Dr.
ettinger called me late last night.
He said he would do anything to get the money from me.
I'm scared.
All right.
This is what we need to do.
We need every document.
We need all your medical bills and medicare stubs.
Well, they're all in shoe boxes in my apartment.
I don't know what's important and what's not.
I'll come with you.
I'll be back in an hour.
Burton: Come in.
Hey there.
I, uh, play in a hockey league, and the goalie on my team works in the d.
A.
'S office.
Gave me this.
Susan newberg.
Autopsy report.
What are they saying, murder or accident? They're calling this a suicide.
She had, uh, 3 types of antidepressants in her blood, uh, .
17 alcohol, and, uh, there was past evidence.
She had, uh, scars on her wrists from 2 previous attempts.
She was a pretty messed-up girl.
Well, it's not murder.
It doesn't help with her will.
Excuse me.
Nick: I need to describe a situation-- hypothetical situation.
Family, 2 daughters.
The younger daughter is 16.
The older daughter is 24.
She commits suicide.
Is she living at home? No.
No.
The younger daughter is completely controlled by her father.
She lies for him, she follows his every command.
In return, he lavishes gifts on her.
What else? This girl Cuts herself with a razor blade.
Has she ever attempted suicide? No.
No.
Just cuts herself.
The cutting obviously indicates an underlying problem.
Some kind of personal violation.
Sexual abuse? In many instances, yeah.
Well, how would you know for sure? I'd ask the child.
[Indistinct chatter] What are you doing here? You tell me.
You hide in bathrooms cutting yourself, your sister attempts suicide a couple of times, then finally she succeeds.
And no one in your family is doing anything except blaming ray Harper.
We went to the benedum center last week, me and my dad.
We saw Lena troeb's modern dance company.
They're very progressive.
They even took off their tops for the last piece.
Dad got me this.
Yeah, that's very nice.
My father's a really big donor.
So We got to go backstage and meet Lena personally.
Then we drove home in the rain.
I felt a tingle up my back.
I had this really good talk with my dad about how nudity is cool.
He talked about how tasteful it all was and the shape of their breasts.
How it's all perfectly natural.
How sex is perfectly natural.
Do you often talk like this with your father? Are you asking me as my attorney? Does your-- does your father-- does he what? This is good here, but it just doesn't meet-- oh, excuse me, Mr.
fallin.
I don't know if Nick told you, but I volunteered over at legal services.
I thought I could use it as my pro Bono work.
No, we assign that, Amanda.
You don't choose.
But I thought since Nick was-- no.
Nick has to be there.
So I can't do it? Well, I can't stop you, but I'd prefer you didn't, all right? [Clears throat] You want to make a difference? Do drugs, get arrested.
Burton: Well, the m.
E.
Ruled the--the death a suicide, your honor.
That's the prima facie indicator of mental illness.
They're taking advantage of a tragic situation to take money away from a man who just lost his wife.
It is a tragic situation, but if we can prove that she was not competent to sign a will-- you greedy sons of bitches.
Mr.
Harper! You can't wait to get your hooks into her money, can you? You killed my daughter! Oh, shut the hell up, Frank! You killed my daughter! You got away with it.
You sick bastard.
And now you want the money! Gentlemen! Frank, sit down.
Sit down.
I'm sorry, your honor.
The suicide by itself does not preclude competence to sign a will.
Unless I am presented with compelling evidence by Friday, I will accept the 2001 will as authoritative.
Look, when I transferred the shares to Susan, I had a buy-back option at the original price as long as the shares transferred out of the family.
Well, why didn't you mention this earlier? Because I thought we were gonna win.
I have the documents back at my place.
Why don't you come and take a look? [Footsteps approaching] I'm going downtown.
I'll be gone for most of the day.
The rest of the boxes are in the study.
Ok.
Well, then, I'll see you then.
[Door closes] [Laughs weakly] I can imagine what you're thinking.
It's hard to explain what happened.
I was very sick back then, very--very troubled.
Yeah.
Look, I'm not going to, uh, bore you with my life story.
Suffice to say that my childhood was not a particularly happy one.
Yeah, you molested your daughter.
I would trade all of the money and all the success in the world to change what happened.
It was a brief and terrible period in my life.
It's as if something Came through me, and then it passed.
Why are you telling me this? Because it has to do with our case.
Or because you're afraid that Wendy would tell me first.
Your father has worked for me for 20 years.
We're like family.
It's important to get things out in the open.
Yeah, and now it's covered by privilege.
Oh, well, I hadn't thought of that.
I just thought if, uh We were gonna work together, it was important that you be prepared to, uh, protect me in case things got bad.
There's abuse going on at the newberg household.
What--what kind of abuse? Sexual.
He molested Susan when she was a girl, and I think it may be occurring with Wendy as well.
Well, how--how do you know about this? I saw pictures of Susan.
Pictures? Yeah, and then Frank newberg told me.
He told me.
You were on the clock? Yes.
Did he tell you he'd do it again? No, just the opposite.
That son of a bitch.
I had drinks with him a couple of nights ago, and he was jokin' around and talkin' about women.
At one point, he says, "now you can't tell my wife this.
This is privileged, right?" Now I thought he was jokin' And then he started asking questions about privilege-- what was privileged, what wasn't privileged As if out of a, you know, normal curiosity.
Well-- well, everything he told you is privileged unless he told you he'd do it again.
She's living with a man who has a history-- Nicholas.
We can't do a damn thing here.
You leak this and they find out about it, you could be disbarred.
In march of 1998, you began to suffer from extreme back pain.
Oh, it was terrible.
I bent down to get the kugel out of the bottom oven-- I have 2 ovens, you know-- and I couldn't stand back up.
I laid on the kitchen floor-- Mrs.
stern, you just have to answer the question like we talked about.
In march of 1998, you began suffering from back pain? Yes.
And you sought treatment from Dr.
ettinger? Treatment is what he calls it.
And what was his diagnosis? He said the pain was in my head.
Did he recommend a course of treatment? Yes, talk therapy.
Talk therapy, for back pain? Mrs.
stern: Yes.
How often did you go? Oh, sometimes every day.
How much did this cost? You have it there.
Please read it.
$34,516.
74.
Amanda: Did the pain Go away? No.
No further questions, your honor.
Lawyer: Mrs.
stern, did Dr.
ettinger perform any tests? Yes.
An m.
R.
I.
And 4 separate motion examinations? Yes.
But you rejected his recommendation of anti-inflammatory drugs? Well, the pills made me all rumbly.
He recommended surgery as well.
Surgery, I can't do that.
Lawyer: You rejected his advice, and yet you kept coming to see him? Well, Dr.
ettinger was always very welcoming to me.
Your honor, I would like to enter into the record the 9 separate letters requesting Mrs.
stern to leave Dr.
ettinger alone.
Did your client charge Mrs.
stern for these visits? Only when she took up appointments that legitimate patients needed.
And how many times was this? From, uh, August of 1999 to September 2001, Mrs.
stern came to Dr.
ettinger's office on 203 occasions.
Your honor.
Your honor Dr.
ettinger is willing to waive these bills.
In return, he simply wants a promise from Mrs.
stern that she will leave him alone.
Your honor.
I'd like a moment to confer with my client.
[Church bells ring] I didn't think you were the type to hang around children's playgrounds, Mr.
fallin.
I know the truth about your sister.
Your father told me what happened.
[Sighs] Is it happening to you? It's not.
Wendy, I wanna help you.
Do you think I want them to tear the roof off my life and make me tell every bad thing that ever happened to a bunch of strangers who wanna cure me? Wendy, I-- my sister went to expensive psychiatrists and clinics.
She had every kind of treatment, and look how she wound up.
Amanda: Is that the truth? You were just lonely? I had pain, but nobody would listen to me.
Some of the women in my building play cards together.
Some of them have children and grandchildren Pictures in their wallets.
I don't have those things.
I lived my life for my husband, and then he died And I was left with no one And the pain.
Some days, I can hardly get out of bed.
Will you promise to leave that doctor alone? Come on.
Let's go tell the court.
Nick.
Ray.
Have a seat.
Thanks.
Scotch, rocks.
Frank's decided not to contest the will.
I know About what happened to Susan.
I I know.
Amazing what he can get away with.
What about Wendy? Is he raping her? I don't know.
But you suspect.
Well What do you think? I'll get you the tickets, and they're on me.
Shh.
Ha ha.
How you doin', Frank? Sit down.
[Clears throat] Ah.
So what's, uh, what's on your mind? Well, I have some, uh, sensitive business I--I wanna talk to you about.
Yeah? Newberg brewing sponsors a, uh, America's cup yacht.
Right.
So we're gonna need some high-level help.
You're gonna be able to travel on the, uh, "beer jet.
" That's what we like to call it.
[Chuckles] That's it? That's it.
Yeah, well, uh, we'll look it over.
Look it over? Burton, I'm giving you free money here.
Frank, I'm not so sure we can do any of this anymore.
You're not in the business of representing saints, Burton.
I'm not judging you.
Then what are you doing? We got a little problem.
A potential conflict between you and your daughter.
Since you're both clients of ours.
You represent me, not my daughter.
No, that's not exactly true.
We represent your family, and we can't be adverse to any of you.
What did she tell you? Don't make me say it, Frank.
We both know what I'm talkin' about.
Whatever she said to you, it's not true.
I'll be glad to recommend another firm to see you through this, uh, transition, um [Coughs] So you ready to do this? Do what? Call social services.
I just washed my hands of him.
I can't do anything else.
He's admitted it.
What he said is privileged.
He will do it again.
You can't prove-- you know what he is.
He will do it again.
We both took an oath, ok? We both accepted the terms of our profession.
What if I make an anonymous call? He'd find out.
He'd file a complaint.
He'd call that tip into court and we'd both be disbarred.
So you're comfortable doing nothing about Wendy? No.
Well? So go ahead.
Do what you think is right.
Laurie.
I think an improper relationship exists between Wendy newberg and her father.
You've gotta give me something to point to, some kind of evidence.
Can you get me a statement from Wendy? She'll never admit it.
I saw photos, but you'll never see them.
All I can give you is my word.
Call the child abuse hotline.
It's anonymous.
Once there's a tip, we can take her out of the house for an investigation.
God help us if you're wrong, Nick.
Thank you.
After careful consideration, we've determined that this child should be placed in a temporary shelter, the location to be concealed from the parents.
Why the concealment? Your honor, this is a Suspicion of incest.
Does the child concur with the recommendation? No, your honor.
Miss newberg, you disagree with your counselor's recommendation? Yes.
Why? Nothing happened.
Judge: I don't understand.
Nothing happened.
I shouldn't even be here.
All right.
What is going on? I had a confidential informant alert about a problematic situation.
A c.
I.
? You're tearing this family apart on a tip? Absolutely not, miss solt.
It was a very trustworthy source.
Your honor-- thank you, your honor.
This has been a very difficult time for us.
You're the only voice of reason that we've encountered.
Your honor-- miss solt, I will not remove this child on the basis of a phone call that could have been made by anyone.
Miss solt: Judge damsen-- I made the call.
I made the call.
Mr.
fallin, please approach the bench.
I'm so sorry.
Ma'am, please come with us.
Mrs.
newberg, you're not allowed to follow.
I'm so sorry, sweetheart.
It's going to be all right.
You'll be fine.
I love you.
This way.
We're going to go to the shelter.
fired by my client, you made an anonymous call to a sexual abuse hotline.
That's retribution, slander, and a breach of confidentiality.
We're going to sue you on all counts.
There was impending harm.
You can't prove that.
Frank.
I will.
I'll depose your daughter, I'll depose your wife.
I will subpoena every doctor who ever treated Wendy, her best friend, her schoolteachers.
To what end? The only legal question left is whether incestual pedophilia rises to the standard of impending harm, but my guess is Mr.
newberg doesn't want to find that out.
You son of a-- thank you.
Mr.
fallin.
I wanted to apologize for volunteering without asking you.
Well, you know how I felt about it.
I'm sorry.
You work here, miss bowles.
Here.
Not there.
You let Nick do it.
Miss bowles, why don't you, um Why don't you finish those briefs for me, ok? You favor your son.
You ignore everyone else.
I mean, Nick quit, took his clients with him, then just decided to come back, and there are no repercussions at all.
All I did was spend 15 hours working on something, trying to make a difference.
And you treat me like I'm the one around here that committed a crime.
What is it you want, miss bowles? To be more than a glorified paralegal.
That's what a first year associate is.
Yeah.
Well, I quit, then.
Well.
Well.
Welcome back, son.
[Rock music playing] [Music stops] Don't look at me like that.
Like I'm some kind of victim.
'Cause I'm not.
Ok? I'm not.
Don't you get it? I've put in my time.
have been in college.
able to put this all behind me without anyone knowing.
What do you want to do? What do you think? I mean, look at my choices.
I can go live with foster parents, leave my school, and spend half my day talking to some shrink about what happened to me.
Or I can go back home and keep my life, keep what's mine.
What I've earned.
What would you do? I'd leave.
Why? It's already happened.
You can't take that away.
It's already happened, and I've learned to deal with it.
What more can I say? It's just the way it is.
You deserve better.
I deserve better than this.
Ok.
I'll be around if you need anybody.
Anybody to help you with anything, I-- [rock music playing] I'll be around.