For Life (2020) s01e01 Episode Script


I used to be just like you.
I had a wife I loved.
I had a family and a home.
I owned a business.
I paid my taxes.
Got you! I had my friends.
Say "cheese.
" Some of them were the kind of friends you'd be better off without.
Maybe I should've known.
NYPD! Search warrant! - Hands up! - Don't move! Show me your hands! Stay where you are! No! Aaron! He didn't do anything! How long have you been bringing in drugs? I told you, I had no idea The powers that be came down on me.
So, here I am now, nine years later, for the first time, back in the same courthouse where they came to take my life away.
Except today, no matter what anybody thinks about me, about who I am and how I got here, today I've got a way to fight back.
And you can be damn sure that's what I'm going to do.
Now, remember, this is just about arguing the motion to get your retrial.
We're not even coming out of here today with a decision on that.
You're innocent.
You were overcharged.
You've done time you never should have.
We're gonna end that.
Yeah, well, what do you want me to say? Rookie bailed his wife's pregnant, she needed to go to the O.
, blah, blah.
I just caught this eight minutes ago.
Look, order the drinks, give me 30, I'll meet you there.
How are you here? Hard work and good will.
What's your method? All rise.
Wallace, I understand this will be your first time arguing before the bench.
It is, Your Honor.
I won't hold it against you, as long as you know what you're doing.
I guess we'll see about that, Your Honor.
Let's have at it, then.
So, this is it now.
Day One.
I wasn't expecting him to be here, but that's all right.
It'll only make this sweeter.
See, ADA Dez O'Reilly is one of the bastards that put me away That's right.
I, Aaron Wallace, am under the permanent custody of the State of New York, serving a life sentence for something I didn't do.
Let's go, boys.
Step up.
So now you're probably asking yourself how was I sitting in that courthouse in that suit? But for me, the question isn't how I could be out there in the world.
The question is, how can I be in here? And how am I ever gonna get out? You got 90 seconds to tell me how the hell it happened.
So, apparently when he got to prison, he went to work for the paralegal association, representing inmates in their internal cases inside prison.
Yeah, I'm familiar.
That got him unlimited access to the library.
From there, college and law degrees online, then he figured out some totally insane loophole in the system.
First, he took the Vermont bar, which is the only state where you can sit for the bar exam with a degree from an unaccredited law school.
Then, he applied to have his license accepted reciprocally in New York.
But he's a convicted drug dealer.
He couldn't have passed the morality test without someone with serious juice.
Remember Henry Roswell? Retired state senator, former public defender? Of course.
Well, in his spare time, he arbitrates prison paralegal cases.
Apparently he was impressed with Wallace and sponsored him for the bar.
What's this case, anyway? Latino kid in for statutory rape.
Plus, the girl OD'd on drugs he gave her.
He's serving 20 on the sex charge and attempted murder.
And they're looking for a retrial? They say the kid never bought the drugs, claim the dealer's changing his story.
- Who's the judge? - It's Tanaka.
But Wallace is a joke.
Plus, he's popping his cherry on this.
I'll run rings around him, if it comes to that.
All right, but I need to be in the loop.
The second you get Tanaka's ruling, I want to know.
You got it.
This all for your case? Yep.
- That's the dude going against us now? - Uh-huh.
Yeah, you know, that's what I was kind of wondering about.
What went down in court yesterday, it seems like it's personal between you and him.
It's not going to affect how I do anything.
I was talking to my Grandma, and she's kind of concerned that if, like, they got something against you already, it may make things harder for me.
Got somebody else lined up? I don't think she did very well by you the last time around.
I-I know.
I know.
I just I bet you think you know what I've been doing in here over all these years.
Fighting the system that screwed me over, right? Wrong.
What I do as prison rep is commodity to keep me alive.
Becoming a lawyer is what's getting me out.
You're just the first.
I'm gonna use your case to start attacking the D.
Day by day, case by case.
Time I'm done and he's soft and his credit's shot, that's how I'm gonna prove that he worked me over.
Everything I do, everything I've done is about getting my freedom, getting back to my family.
You want another lawyer? Have at it.
But you're not gonna find anybody more motivated than me.
How the hell am I supposed to pay for that? You're supposed to do what I tell you to do.
Hey, how you doin'? Good.
Long drive.
I, uh, got you some ties, 'case you need 'em for court.
- Thanks.
- Mm-hmm.
Still no Jazz, huh? Sorry.
She got extra SAT prep today.
- That her report card? - Yeah.
- Gotta sign it, right? - Yep.
You okay with these grades? Kids have ups and downs, Aaron.
She quit gymnastics.
She looks exhausted.
And last time I saw her, - I'm damn near sure she was stoned.
- She's not stoned.
Something's goin' on, and whatever it is - It's on me, right? - No, it's on Darius.
- Come on.
- He's not hard enough on her.
He's not her father.
Well, if he's not willing to take on that responsibility, maybe he should get out of your bed.
Well, I might kick him out if you came back home, but you're not, 'cause you're locked up for life.
You're not telling me something.
You should've taken the plea.
It was 20 years, Marie.
You would've got parole in 12 Three years from now.
I would've waited for you.
And Jasmine would still have her father.
You remember what I was like? The kind of Every day, every second I'm not there for her for you I'm sorry, I can't.
No, Marie, come back.
Marie! Marie, come back! Marie! Guards! Got a fight down here! Get 'em out of here now! Separate and restrict them both to their cells for the rest of the day! Warden on the Tier! What happened? We're short-handed.
McClintock quit this morning.
I told you some people wouldn't hack it.
Good riddance.
Ma'am, I gotta say, these reforms, all these changes, it's all going too quick for anybody to keep up with.
Look at the numbers, Captain.
This incident not withstanding, violence is down 34%, suicide attempts cut in half.
Drug use plummeting in five months.
Now, your staff may not like the reforms, but they're working, and it's your job to sell that.
Now I want to walk the yard.
Warden's down from the Big House today.
I guess she wants to see how the other half live.
She must be trippin' You gettin' out to go to court.
I'm licensed now.
Ain't nothin' she can do about it.
The hell this bitch want? Joey Knox got thrown in the hole.
Looks like Wild Bill wants you to get into it for him.
Can I get a word? You hear about Joey? Yeah, brawlin' with Custody? I can't say how that's gonna help anybody.
I'm beginning to wonder if maybe you ratted him out.
You're smokin' too much crystal, man.
Oh, yeah? Well, you spend a lot of time up in that Warden's office every week, don't you? I'm the prisoners' rep.
I talk about your rights.
Well, then you got no problem taking Joey's case, do you? What? What, you got a problem with my tats? Is that it? I thought a Law Man wasn't supposed to judge.
Yeah, well, I make certain exceptions.
Well, I want him out.
And I'd hate to hear that the folks out in this yard began to question what really goes on up in that Warden's office with you and the Madame.
Then there's no choice, is there? So, next time, don't leave it till the last minute.
Look, I gotta go, but I'll be home for dinner, okay? I love you.
Your son or daughter? It's always my son.
But I think that's just boys.
Yeah, I wouldn't know.
I heard you were talking to Wild Bill in the yard today.
I'm guessing he wants you to rep Joey Knox.
You still trying to eliminate solitary? You don't think I can pull it off? Not without a revolt from the guards.
Well, revolt or not, it's my next move.
But I can't do it if I still have prisoners sitting in there.
Repping Joey's not gonna play well in my community.
But I'll think about it.
So, what can you tell me about the drug use? Down, as far as I can see.
What about the flow? I told you you get what I know about the guards, not the prisoners.
It's the only way this thing's gonna work, unless you want me dead.
I was talking about the guards.
Then nothing.
But I'll keep my eyes open.
Your ears, too.
Uh, we're not done.
I, uh I got a call from the court today.
You got your retrial with Jose.
That's great.
Thank you.
You think you got a chance there? Yeah, we'll see.
Well, good luck.
And watch your back.
Every minute of every day.
So, you're a high school junior, you got a B average, you got your friends, you're on the soccer team, you even got yourself a girl.
Tell us about that.
Molly was, like, from a good family, you know? Uh, with money.
And me, my dad split, my moms was workin' three jobs, and I was eatin' frozen waffles for dinner.
I bet her parents liked you.
Not much.
And they said it was 'cause I was 17 and she was only 15, but she was a sophomore.
We was only one grade apart.
So, what did you do? Snuck around a couple months, but I knew I had to break it off before my birthday.
Because in the State of New York, an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old is considered statutory rape.
And they'd for sure call the cops.
Did you know that in Virginia, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania, a boy and girl can get married and have kids at those ages? Objection.
Look, I get he's still figuring all this out, but I'm pretty sure he knows the laws in other states are irrelevant here.
Sustained, Mr.
And you should know, in many of those states, parental consent is required.
So, you broke up.
Then what? She keeps cryin' and beggin' and sayin' she's gonna hurt herself if I don't get back to her.
Then one day, she promises if I just come over one more time, she'd be all right.
And you went? She said her parents were gonna be gone for the day, so yeah, I went over there.
Then after we were, you know, together I fall asleep.
When I wake up, there's a note next to me - saying she's gonna kill herself.
- Objection! The police never found this note.
The victim herself swore under oath that she didn't write it.
- This has been hashed and rehashed.
- Sustained.
I'll allow this line of questioning if and only if you can produce any corroborating evidence of this note.
Thank you, Your Honor.
Let's get back to that day.
After you woke up, then what? I found her in the living room.
Next to an empty bottle of Oxy.
I tried to wake her, then when I couldn't, I called 911.
And you waited for the ambulance? No.
Well, why not? Because I knew her parents would come after me.
Which is what they did.
Even though Molly survived? I guess they wanted to punish me.
And the prosecution had text messages between you and Molly where you kept promising to buy her Oxy.
Yeah, they did.
Can you explain those? She kept asking me, but I just kept stalling.
Hoping she'd give up.
Why didn't you just tell her "no"? Because I thought she'd just go to the school dealer - and buy them herself.
- And were you right? That's what she ended up doing.
The dealer just lied about it six years ago, pinned it on me, and that's how I ended up doing all this time.
Let the record show that I intend to call the drug dealer and the police officer on the scene who saw that missing suicide note.
No further questions.
Are you saying the District Attorney's office is racist? I'll leave that for other people to decide.
But there's no question the system's broke for anybody who doesn't have power or money.
Overcharging people who can't afford a lawyer, then forcing them into a plea is an epidemic in this country.
And if you look at the numbers, the Bronx has been one of the worst under Glen Maskins.
The timing on this has got to be difficult for Maskins, who's in a neck-and-neck battle in the upcoming election for Attorney General against Brooklyn D.
Anya Harrison.
You drop everything else on your plate and do not even contemplate losing this case.
You didn't tell me Aaron Wallace was going scorched earth on Maskins.
What do we have here? Bacon and eggs.
Mmm, yummy.
We talked about him taking some cases.
You didn't say anything about him grandstanding on the news.
This is gonna hurt Maskins and help you.
Unless he gets backed into a corner, lashes out, and starts pointing out our conflict of interest.
I think you're getting ahead of yourself.
I really do.
I hope so.
You need to study for that midterm, don't you? I want to go see Dad.
He has a right to know what's going on.
You know the baggage he has around this.
He's just gonna make you feel like you screwed up.
You don't need that right now.
You know, you say you're protecting me.
I really feel like you're protecting yourself.
I think you're scared he's gonna say you screwed up.
What's going on? She's pissed I'm keeping her from seeing Aaron.
Well, your mother has good reasons Are you talking to me about this? Seriously? Well, I live here - and I support you, so yeah.
- Darius.
Just because you're banging your best friend's wife doesn't mean you get to start playing daddy with me.
- Hey! - We're together, Jazz, and that ain't changing.
You're gonna have to start to accept that.
How about never?! How's that work for you? Jasmine! I know how hard this has been for you.
But you can't talk to Darius like that.
I know.
I'm sorry.
He's just trying to help however he can.
You think he knows you still love Dad? I think he understands there are different kinds of love.
I know you think your dad is coming back some day, but he's not.
He's never getting out of there.
The sooner we all accept that, the easier it'll be to live our lives.
I don't care about what's easy.
And I'm not just gonna give up on him.
Here for Freddy Dawkins.
He's one of my witnesses.
I got to prep him before we head over to court.
And in the days leading up to her suicide attempt, Molly had arranged to meet with you, and you agreed? That's right.
And what did she want? To buy Oxy.
So, six years ago, why did you testify that Jose was the one who bought 'em? Come on, man.
We've been over this.
This is the part where you tell the court that you were scared 'cause Molly's a minor and that the D.
Cut you a deal If I said, "I sold it to Jose.
" I know.
I got it, man.
- Then what's the problem? - I don't know.
I just I don't know if I want to get involved in all this.
- You tryin' to shake me down? - No, man.
No! What did they promise you? I hope it's protection, 'cause you're gonna need it when people find out you rolled on 'em again.
Hey, man.
Are you threatening me? Not a threat.
It's a fact.
And I won't be able to stop it.
- No, this is messed up, man.
- What's messed up is this kid's been rotting in here for six years and he's gonna do 14 more because you lied.
Freddy, this is your chance to make things right.
Lockdown in effect! Back to your cells! Repeat we are in lockdown! - Let's go! - Let's go.
- Later, man.
- Freddy.
We're locking it up! Everybody in, let's go! Freddy! I gotta know what it's gonna be here, man.
- Gotta clear it out.
- Freddy! - Hey, you want to end up in the hole? - Freddy! I-I-I'll do it, all right? I'll do it.
Do you hear me? Let's go! Let's go.
So, first, I'm gonna call the cop on the scene who saw Molly's suicide note on the floor.
After that, we got Freddy.
Hold on.
Yo! Where we goin'? First stop's supposed to be the Bronx.
What are you, my navigator? Hey, where they taking you, man? Queens County.
Yo, you got the wrong route! Yo, we gotta be in court by 9:00! This is gonna make us two hours late! Your Honor, I'm very sorry.
- There was a problem with transport.
- I'll say there was.
The driver says he had to change his route because you were riling up the inmates and he had to get them off the bus for security reasons.
No, that's just not true, Your Honor.
Whatever it is, you're not getting your witness back.
Why not? We can just call him tomorrow.
He's working an undercover case.
This was his only opening.
You got the paperwork on that? I have word from his Captain, and that is good enough for me.
Let's just move on to the next witness.
Would that be Freddy Dawkins? Supposed to be, yeah.
Well, here's the thing Um, Mr.
Dawkins is now reverting back to his original testimony from six years ago.
Here's the affidavit, Your Honor.
- Where'd you get that? - His lawyer sent it to us.
And he confirms once again the defendant purchased the drugs, not the victim.
- You bought him! - Mr.
Bought or coerced, which is it? - Whoa.
Take it easy.
- Mr.
You telling me you don't see what's going on here?! - He's tampered with my witness! - Can you prove that? That's what they do all day, every day Move people around like they're pieces on some chess board! But that kid that kid right there is not some pawn! He had a life, and then you took it from him! Mr.
Wallace, you need to settle down.
Settle down? Know my place? - Is that what you mean? - Security.
I am warning you, Mr.
You are dangerously close to being in contempt.
I'd imagine your hold on your license is pretty tenuous as it is.
So, if I were you, I would stop this tantrum right now.
Open cell 4.
Aah! But you still also need to protect Anya.
You are looking lovely as ever.
Still leading with how women look, Glen? In 2019? What do you think people are gonna say when it's pointed out to them that your wife is the one allowing Wallace to head out to court? So, you decided to go right at Maskins with the media.
I was approached, and I saw an opportunity.
Well, now he's threatening to expose our relationship, tie it back to my wife, and make it look like we weaponized you to go after him.
Anyone can connect those dots.
That was always a risk.
No one would have been looking.
But your tirade to the press makes it a story now.
You know I thought that when you decided to take on these other cases, you were doing it out of solidarity with your fellow inmates.
But that's not it, is it? You're just using them to provoke Maskins.
And prove a pattern of corruption.
Then prove it! Instead of spouting off to the press before you've accomplished anything.
You know, every time I petition the county clerk for records or ask for old police reports, you know what they say? "No dice.
Ongoing investigation.
" Nine years later.
So I got no choice but to provoke him, hoping he gets reckless and makes a mistake.
So, that's your long game? I don't see any other way.
How about win your cases? Get yourself some credibility.
I'll stay away from the press.
But you let me worry about my credibility.
Gotta be out for chow time, 20 minutes.
It's over, man.
Is that what you're comin' to tell me? Where'd you get this? Six years.
Six years in this hell, I stayed off it.
You made me believe, man.
I believed.
Get up.
You never showed me this.
Where'd it come from? She wrote me after I got in here.
You once told me that you remember every word that Molly wrote you in that suicide note.
So what? - Hello? - Hey, how you doin'? I'm okay.
Just on my way to work.
Listen, I'm sorry about what happened last week.
Yeah, me too.
I was hoping maybe you could do something for me.
You're the only one I can trust.
I'm listening.
Joey Knox still in the hole? Well, they ain't letting him out for Sunday brunch.
Aaron'll take his case.
But he's gonna need something from you.
- Where'd you get it? - Thrift store.
Guy said it was over 10 years old.
I'll be right back.
Whoa, whoa, Aaron.
What is this about? I told you, it's best you don't know.
I gotta go.
Wait right here.
- Coming down now.
- Almost.
30 seconds.
This'll wipe 'em all out? Partials, man.
You want partials.
The oven at 450? Yeah, but we gotta get out of here.
All right, three minutes.
Once again, visiting time is over.
Take all your belongings and move towards the exit.
Let's go, ma'am, time's up.
Where you going, Wallace? It's over.
- I need to get something - Nah, gotta wait till next week.
- Let's go.
- All right.
Hey! I told you.
It's a letter for my daughter.
- Back to your cell.
- I'm going, I'm going.
- Now! - All right! All right.
Clearly, that letter was sent to me by one of the cops on the scene from Molly Davison's overdose.
- And he enclosed this in the envelope? - That's right.
We've had that note analyzed by a handwriting expert who certified that the note is forged.
And I got an expert of my own who says with 100% certainty that she wrote that letter.
The idea that a cop kept that note after all this time is ridi Guilty conscience runs on its own calendar.
Maybe you'd know that if you had one.
So, we're going there now? You can see from the postmark that was sent a half a mile from the precinct.
Did you run a fingerprint analysis on this? We did, Your Honor.
We found multiple partials, but nothing identifiable.
So, we're at an impasse.
Not if we subpoena Molly Davison.
She's already said she won't testify.
But we now got evidence that she needs to corroborate one way or the other.
She can corroborate without being called to the stand.
That's true, but if she did write that letter, that means she lied six years ago.
Defense should have an opportunity to confront her on the stand.
And I'd appreciate if she wasn't tampered with.
I, Molly Davison, promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
Please be seated.
Morning, Ms.
Good morning.
Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to cut right to the chase here.
Could you tell us about your relationship with Jose Rodriguez? He was my boyfriend in high school.
- And did you love him? - Objection.
The witness has been called to corroborate a specific piece of evidence.
The evidence is tied to her feelings for the defendant.
I'm trying to establish context here, Your Honor.
I'll allow it.
Thank you.
Wallace? Mr.
Did you love him? Yes.
And do you think he loved you? Yes.
Then why did your relationship end? Jose broke up with me.
And why would he do that? Are you looking to somebody for answers? He was afraid of what my parents might do if we stayed together.
And how did he wind up at your house on the day you overdosed? I have records of text messages between you and him from that day.
Would you mind reading the one I highlighted? "Just come over one last time.
I swear I'll be okay after that and I'll leave you alone.
" But that wasn't true, was it? Objection! Leading the witness.
'Cause you already had a plan for what you were going to do.
Objection! He's badgering! Careful, Mr.
Would you mind reading that, please? Ms.
Davison? "Dear Jose, you are my light, you are my heart, you are my everything.
" "I hate my parents and I ha hate my life, and if I can't be with you, then I don't want to live.
I'm so sorry.
I'll love you forever.
" Do you recognize those words? Are those the words you wrote to Jose the day you overdosed? This isn't the note.
But But, yeah, these are the words.
Objection, Your Honor.
She's only here to establish the veracity of this particular piece of evidence.
If those are the words, where's the original version of that note? My parents destroyed it the day I went to the hospital.
And why would they do that, Molly? Because they didn't want anyone reading what I wrote.
They didn't want me to get arrested for buying drugs.
But you testified six years ago that Jose was the one who bought the Oxy.
I lied.
Jose never wanted to get them for me, and he never did.
He didn't even know that I-I had them.
He would've taken them away.
They made me lie about everything.
I am so sorry, Jose.
I'm so sorry.
No further questions.
I didn't think you could do it.
I know.
Can't ever thank you enough.
You go live your life, man.
Oh! Time to get changed.
I heard about Jose.
Got a lot of guys coming to me now.
I'm sure.
But I'm gonna need you to let things cool down till after the election.
That was the deal we made with Maskins.
Put me back in my cage.
It's only four months.
That's easy for you to say.
You get to go home to your family every night.
I want you to think about this.
If you go after him and it backfires, he wins the election, becomes Attorney General.
Not only will he help kill all the reforms that have been making everyone's lives here better, but he will take away your license with one stroke of his pen and crush any chance you have of getting your own case to court.
So, if you're really playing the long game, going after him is not the smart move right now.
Thank you for trusting me.
There's my girl.
Hey, sweetheart.
Hey, Dad.
I'm so glad you're here.
Jasmine has something to tell you.
What is it, sweetheart? The reason I haven't been coming here is Hey, whatever it is, I can handle it, all right? We can handle it together.
Come on.
What's going on? Please don't be mad.
I'm not mad, my angel.
I'm not mad.
Well, how far along? 17 weeks.
And it's Ronnie's? We're still together, and he's taking responsibility.
I want you to know I'm having a boy.
I was gonna name him Aaron.
It's gonna be a blessing, Dad.
But you have to get out of here to be a part of it.
I'm gonna need you, and your grandson is gonna need you, too.
I used to be just like you.
I had a family and a career.
I had friends.
I even thought I had time.
And then I got here The place where time stands still.
You get through it.
You tell yourself you'll catch up someday.
But then something happens when you least expect it to remind you the world's gonna keep spinning without you.
The Warden thinks I can afford to wait.
But she can never understand what it's like for me for the others in here who don't belong.
So now there'll be no more long game.
No more biding my time.
Not one more moment.
Whatever it takes, whoever I have to fight, no matter how hard they come at me, no matter what power they have, I will get myself home, and I will have my life again.

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