Law & Order (1990) s08e07 Episode Script


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.
Honey, your leashing is too slack.
Shorten up.
I said shorten, Ryan.
That's better.
Never had any complaints about my leashing before.
(CHUCKLING) Don't worry.
I'm a master at teaching old dogs new tricks.
(DOG BARKING) (GASPING) Oh, my God! Decedent is a female, blond, early Looks like she fell, or jumped from the building.
Her place on the 18th floor has a balcony.
Who ID'd her? The doorman.
Says her husband is president of some drug company.
Did he see her fall? He says he was on a break.
CURTIS: Excuse me, is Mr.
Burdett around? I called upstairs right when it happened.
He wasn't in.
What time was that? He might have slipped back in while I was on my break.
I better check.
You notice what time he went out this morning? No, I must have missed it.
I might have been on a break then, too.
Three breaks in one morning? You must have one hell of a union.
What I have is a prostate condition.
Oh, wait, there he is.
Let him in, CURTIS: Mr.
Burdett, we're with the police.
Yes, what's wrong? What happened here? I'm afraid it's about your wife, sir.
My wife? I was just at the pharmacy getting her prescription.
Karin! Take it easy, Mr.
There's nothing you can do for her now.
Take it easy.
All right.
All right.
Sit over here.
Come on.
We got you.
You're gonna be okay.
All right, you just try to relax.
We're gonna come back and talk to you in a minute.
All right? Guy is president of a drug company, and he still has to schlepp to the drugstore like the rest of us.
What do you think she needed? Happy pills? I hope he got some for himself.
It's Desyrel.
An anti-depressant.
Karin had a bad night.
What time did you leave this morning? About 10:00.
The pharmacy doesn't deliver? They said it would take two hours.
Was your wife expecting anybody? No.
She'd taken some sleeping pills.
She was groggy.
She was in no shape to see anyone.
Burdett, did she ever talk about suicide? No.
Clemente, what have you got? Latent pulled some nice prints off the door, and over here on the railing.
This where she went off? Uh-huh.
Looks like she stumbled around, knocked over these pots.
CURTIS: Hey, Lennie.
Well, we got sleeping pills, broken flower pots And we got this.
Parlodel? It's used to stop lactation.
So where's the baby? (KNOCK AT DOOR) CURTIS: Mr.
Burdett, these Parlodel for your wife.
Do you know why she was taking them? (SIGHING) She gave birth to a girl three weeks ago.
Is the baby staying with someone else? We gave it up for adoption.
Well, how did Mrs.
Burdett feel about that? (SIGHING) It was understood when we were married I didn't want any more children.
I have a teenage son by my first marriage.
When Karin got pregnant, we discussed it again.
In the end it just didn't make sense.
She had two partially digested Halcion tablets in her stomach.
She was feeling pretty good.
Good enough to make it over a railing? She might have managed it.
You said she was taking Parlodel? That's right.
The panel didn't pick up any in her blood.
She hadn't taken it for at least three days.
It takes that long to clear the system.
So she stopped taking them.
Maybe they were upsetting her stomach.
Or she was getting ready to take the baby back.
What's that? You're jumping ahead.
It's an abraded contusion.
Back of her right wrist.
From the fall? From having her arm twisted, hard.
He's fifty-seven years old, Lennie.
How would you like to do diaper duty again? Yeah, if that happened to me, I'd jump off the roof.
Look, she would have fought back.
There'd be marks on him.
She was too doped up to fight.
You talk to Burdett's pharmacy? They remember he was there, but they don't know when or for how long.
Still, it's a ten minute trip he says took him an hour.
One vote she was pushed, one vote she jumped.
Could you hold on? See if forensics can break the tie.
And could you close the door please? Boyfriend? Mrs.
Van Buren? No.
I heard she took the Captain's exam.
Usually means a transfer.
Just when I was getting used to her sunny disposition.
CLEMENTE: We'll do another drop, but so far we keep getting the same results.
If we just drop the dummy, it lands in the water, your victim landed.
CURTIS: What if she had pushed off the rail when she jumped? Gets her maybe a foot closer to the target.
She needed a nice big shove to land where she did.
So much for May-December romances.
It's enough to make me a cynic.
You know, Lennie, Karin Burdett's obstetrician was the one who prescribed the anti-depressant.
She must have gotten an earful about the adoption.
I spent a grand on a malpractice seminar in Curaçao.
Besides finding out I'm too old for Mai Tais, I learned never to talk out of school.
Your patient is dead, Dr.
I doubt she'd mind if you violate her privilege.
Her estate might.
You mean her husband? He's the murder suspect.
BRISCOE: Well, if it makes you feel any better, Doc, patient chit-chat isn't privileged.
That includes anything non-medical she might have said to you about wanting to revoke the adoption.
She had been very ambivalent all along about giving it away.
She had 30 days after the adoption to change her mind.
I don't know if she took any legal steps.
Did she tell you how her husband felt about it? No.
But I don't think he was very supportive.
He didn't even show up for the ultrasound.
Too much going on at work.
Do you know which adoption agency they used? They went through a baby broker.
I don't know his name.
Well, who did you hand the baby off to after the delivery? I wasn't at the delivery.
What, another surf-and-sand seminar? I was right here.
They were in Trenton, New Jersey.
At City Hospital.
A public hospital? Sure, I remember the Burdetts.
Our patients don't usually pay with a platinum card.
And a very close, loving couple they were.
While she was delivering the baby, he's on a cell phone.
Half an hour after that baby's born, a lawyer shows up in a limo and signs it out.
So you'd have his name and number in the Burdetts' file.
That's where we keep confidential information.
Oh, come on.
You show me his number, and I'll show you mine.
And I guarantee, you'll have more fun with me than I'm gonna have with him.
I don't think so, Romeo.
Last week, a young woman came in here wanting to get in touch with the Burdetts.
Who was she? I don't know, but she didn't get anything out of me either.
And she was a whole lot cuter than you.
Excuse me.
I knew it.
So what do you think? The adoptive mother? Well, if she got word Karin Burdett was making a move to get the kid back Remember Baby M? That got very nasty.
Yeah, but they don't give babies back to dead people.
We got to find these parents.
We can try to get the adoption papers unsealed.
By then, the kid will be getting her first hickey.
Oh, Miz.
Our lawyer said that no one was supposed to know who we were.
How did you guys BRISCOE: His car service.
They drove him here with the baby.
And the hospital told us you tried to contact the biological parents.
I didn't know we were breaking any laws.
Why were you looking for them? We waited five years to get a child.
I wrote them a letter to thank them, and to let them know that Maggie was in a good home.
Tooley wouldn't pass it on to them.
So I found out where Maggie was born.
Did you ever talk to the parents? No.
The hospital wouldn't give me their name.
Where were you last Sunday morning? We were at a friend's house in Astoria Park with Ellen's parents.
They were visiting from Indiana.
We'll need to talk to your friend.
Why? What's going on? (SIGHING) The baby's mother was found dead last Sunday.
Oh, my God.
What happened? CURTIS: We're not sure.
Anyone ever tell you that she wanted to revoke the adoption? No.
I can't believe this.
(BABY CRYING) Excuse me.
Do they want Maggie back? CURTIS: The mother might have.
We don't know about the father.
Well, 12 more days and it's official.
She's ours.
I don't think you have anything to worry about, Mr.
We can't even remember what life was like without her.
It was Isn't she beautiful? Hello, baby.
CURTIS: It explains a lot, Mr.
The hospital in Trenton, the lateral pass to the baby broker.
Whatever difficulties Karin and I had, we worked out like civilized people.
Let me get this straight.
Your wife cheats on you with What's his name? I don't know.
She wouldn't tell me.
Okay, so she gets pregnant.
Now, you don't kick her out, you don't slap her around.
You even let her have the baby.
Because you're so civilized? Yes.
Nobody is that civilized, Josh.
Yeah, all right, maybe if it was one of your country club pals.
But she was sweating up the sheets with some big good-looking black stud.
That can really piss some people off.
You that kind of people, Mr.
Burdett? No.
If she gets the baby back, everybody is gonna know.
Stop it.
She was playing Scarlett O'Hara with Mandingo! Enough.
That's enough.
I did not kill Karin.
Now, I've said all I want to say.
I came here voluntarily.
Now, I'm leaving.
If you want to talk to me again, contact my attorney.
This guy could keep snowflakes in his mouth.
Well, if he killed her, it's probably not the first time he laid a hand on her.
You check with the local precinct? Yeah.
No record of domestic calls.
We asked the neighbors.
The walls are thick.
They wouldn't have heard him if he shot her out of a cannon.
She have a job? Yeah.
Resource Development at the Shuman Foundation for Women.
It's a charity.
Well, if it's anything like this place, everybody knows her business.
I do know she and Mr.
Burdett were having some problems over her pregnancy.
You mean, they had arguments? Physical arguments? God, no.
I didn't mean to give you the wrong impression.
I just overheard a phone call.
She was pretty furious.
What did she say? I just heard a little.
She said something like, "It's your baby.
It's damn time you took responsibility for it.
" Maybe not those exact words.
Are you sure she was talking to Mr.
Burdett? Well, I assumed it was him.
Could it possibly have been someone else? No.
You mean No, not Mrs.
I would have picked up on something like that.
Who would have figured in an office full of women, she kept her affair a secret? You'd expect she'd put a star next to her rendezvous? Depends how good her boyfriend is.
Here we go.
Ian Fraser, Esquire.
Matrimonial Law.
She was fooling around with a divorce lawyer? No, I think this was business.
She had an appointment with him two weeks ago.
Maybe she chose the baby over Burdett.
"Morris Keach, Vice President of RLH Contracting" "and Co-Chairman of the Saint Vincent Children's Foundation.
" Here he is accepting a $10,000 check from Karin Burdett.
And here he is sharing a cocktail with her at a Foundation luncheon.
If they were any cozier, he'd be sharing his pants with her.
And he's the right complexion.
We got friendly last year, when I solicited her Foundation for a grant.
She called me up and asked me to lunch.
Just like that? Out of the blue? What did she want? Best I could figure, she wanted to talk about my kids.
I have three.
She wanted to know what it's like raising them in the city.
She was looking for a good nursery school? No.
Raising them as African Americans.
What kind of problems they might run into.
She was thinking of adopting an African American baby.
Actually, Mr.
Keach, she gave birth to one.
Really? You think I'm the father? That's nuts.
Look, Mr.
Keach, you got yourself in a jam We can understand that.
And Karin Burdett wouldn't let you off the hook.
She expected help with the baby.
Now I know you're nuts.
CURTIS: Yeah? Where were you on Sunday morning? I went running at the reservoir.
This is unbelievable.
I did not sleep with Karin Burdett.
So prove it to us.
Take a paternity test.
I want to talk to a lawyer first.
He'll tell you we can get a warrant.
Well, then get one.
Until the adoption is final, the O'Briens are a little gun-shy.
That's why they asked me to talk to you about this paternity test.
It's very simple.
The police think whoever killed Karin Burdett is the baby's father.
They have a suspect, they'd like to establish paternity.
What's in it for the O'Briens? Nothing.
Isn't doing your civic duty its own reward? It's a headache they don't need.
Brody, we're talking about a small blood sample from the baby.
So you can determine that her father murdered her mother? Little Maggie already has more baggage than Greyhound.
She's got inherited megaloblastic anemia.
She's got asthma.
The O'Briens' cup runneth over.
We feel badly for them, but we have a situation.
Well, let me talk to them.
Ross is getting the big stall from the O'Briens.
Keach's lawyer won't let him go anywhere near a needle.
Can you bust his alibi? He was running by himself.
We showed his picture around the reservoir.
Nobody remembers him.
Toss it back to the D.
Let them worry about the paternity test.
Actually, there might be another way to hook up Keach to the baby.
The kid has an inherited medical condition.
Megaloblastic anemia.
So either Karin Burdett or Keach would have had to pass it on.
The M.
said whoever passed it on to the kid would be taking medication.
Large doses of folio acid.
Well, here's the inventory from the Burdetts' medicine cabinet.
Folate, one milligram tablets.
Wait a minute, that's not right.
This prescription is made out to Joshua Burdett.
He's the father? He's black? Maybe the pharmacy made a mistake.
Or maybe he's taking it as a supplement.
I heard it's good for thinning hair.
Burdett has an ex-wife, right? Ask her if he has anemia.
Yes, Josh has the condition.
We were worried that he might pass it on to our son David, but we were lucky.
Houston, far as you know, what's your ex-husband's ethnic background? Burdett is an old Anglo-Scottish name.
And his mother, I think, was French-Italian.
Did you ever meet his relatives or see any pictures of them? Josh was an only child, and his parents died when he was very young.
What are you getting at? His late wife gave birth to a baby with megaloblastic anemia.
The baby was part black.
That's Oh, what about Karin's parentage? Danish.
About as white as you can get.
Excuse me.
David, would you and Veronica go upstairs please, until I'm finished? Thank you, honey.
You saw my son.
He's not black.
And neither is Josh.
I'm sorry, Mrs.
Houston, but this baby Karin was unstable.
I called Josh that Sunday morning.
He had to go out and get her some pills.
I could hear her screaming like a banshee.
She was capable of anything with anybody.
We've already been down that road.
Josh is not black.
I was married to him for nineteen years.
I'd know.
(DOOR OPENING) BRISCOE: Your lawyer is on his way in.
To pass the time, let's talk about you volunteering a blood sample.
For what? A paternity test.
You and that baby you can't run away from fast enough.
That's ridiculous.
I'm not the father.
Well, you both have the same anemia.
So do thousands of other people.
First I killed Karin because she had a child by another man.
Then I killed her because she had my child? Because she wanted to keep your child.
And because everybody in your just-us-white-folks executive suite was gonna find out you're black, Josh.
That's absurd.
I mean, look at me.
I want to talk to him.
(DOOR CLOSING) Hello, my brother.
Damn, look at you.
You did it.
You passed.
You know, I thought up close I'd be able to tell, but I swear, I can't.
So what's it like when it's just you and them? You laugh along when they tell the jokes? Oh, you know what I'm talking about, right? Or do you tell nigger jokes, too, just to keep up appearances? If you don't mind.
Oh, am I sitting too close? What, I remind you of somebody? Your mother? Was she dark-skinned? High yellow? Redbone? You're scared now, aren't you? You been scared for almost 40 years.
And all that fear came gushing out Sunday morning.
You panicked.
Isn't that right? You go ahead.
Tell me what happened.
Take the weight off, my brother.
You'll feel better.
I'm Mr.
Burdett's attorney.
You mind telling me what my client is doing here? We're arresting your client for the murder of his wife.
Take him down to booking.
BRISCOE: Josh Burdett, you're under arrest.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you do say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney It seems he had everybody fooled.
His whole life was a charade.
It's pathetic.
Maybe 30, 40 years ago it made more sense.
Back then they had lynch mobs and bullwhips.
Now they use toilet plungers.
You confirmed that he's the father of this child? We're just waiting for a blood sample from the baby.
What else? Weak alibi.
Forensics to establish the manner of death.
His motive being that he didn't want anyone to know he was black.
Why? Shame, loss of friends, his work.
I can just imagine what he was afraid of.
Don't imagine it.
Prove it.
(PHONE RINGING) Madeline's phone number.
I promised her you'd call.
Since when? We'll get right on it.
That was Curtis.
The adoptive mother has disappeared with the baby.
I don't know where they are.
She left without telling you? What's it to you? They can come and go as they please.
That child's paternity is evidence in a murder.
I'm her father.
You're crazy if you think I'm gonna help you to prove Burdett is anything.
Why? What are you worried about? If Mr.
Burdett turns out to be the biological father, it gives him legal standing to revoke the adoption.
His wife wanted our baby back.
Maybe he does, too.
Who told you that? Was it Mr.
Burdett? Did he threaten you or pay you to do this? The paternity test could help convict Burdett of murder.
No judge will ever grant custody to a murderer.
Tell that to the Simpson kids.
O'Brien, I have a court order for the paternity test.
I can compel you to tell us where your child is.
What are you going to do, cite him for contempt? His position is, he doesn't know where his wife and baby are.
We need that test.
We need to turn up the heat on O'Brien.
If he's getting paid off by Burdett, he's on the hook for a lot more than contempt.
I'll get Briscoe and Curtis on it.
Then talk to Burdett's employers.
Let's nail down his motive.
You can't be right, Ms.
Josh is a straight arrow.
If he says he's white, he's white.
He checked white on his application.
I thought it was illegal to ask an applicant's race.
It is now.
That was filled out in 1963.
The bad old days.
What if he'd said he was black? He was hired as a sales associate in our Richmond office.
The market was southern doctors and pharmacists.
The application would have ended up in the trash.
And now? If the company found out he was African American? Now? Hell, we'd probably put him on the board.
(CHUCKLING) Cheaper than Colin Powell.
You're wrong about Josh.
I've known the man for twenty years, and I never saw any hint he was anything but what he said he was.
What kind of hints were you looking for? Well, for example, there was a young black man a couple of years ago.
Shawn Taitt.
A real comer Josh put under his wing.
Then one day, he's gone.
Josh had enough of the attitude.
Everything was "black this, black that" Mr.
Burdett fired him? And get us sued? Josh promoted him to our office in Duluth.
One sub-zero winter, and Taitt got the idea.
He quit.
Burdett told your colleagues you had an attitude problem.
Maybe that's what he told them, but we got along fine until I found out he was from Knoxville.
What, you don't like people from Knoxville? I told him I had family there.
And they knew a Burdett family.
A black family.
A month later I was shipped off to Duluth.
Did you suspect why? Mmm-hmm.
He was passing.
You could have sued.
Why make trouble for the man? He's a whole other generation.
I can just imagine what he went through, being a black kid in Tennessee in the '50s.
(SIGHING) That's the fourteenth Burdett I've spoken to in Knoxville.
Not one of them will claim Josh Burdett.
What about birth records? They're in the Knox county clerk's office.
They're working on it, but it might take some time.
There's nothing in his personal records either.
No birth certificate, no relatives in his address book, no photos.
The paternity test might be our only way to prove he's black.
What's happening with the O'Briens? The police haven't found any pay-offs by Burdett.
But they turned up this check.
Leonard Hillman, Esquire.
Twenty thousand dollars.
Burdett wrote it a week before his wife died.
Hillman specializes in employment discrimination claims.
Yeah, he sued this office two years ago.
So, what does a white male executive need with a civil rights attorney? I'll ask.
By the way, how'd it go last night? With Madeline? She's bright, attractive, funny.
As advertised.
You're welcome.
In case you're wondering, she thought you were charming, passionate.
Passionate? About your work.
(CHUCKLES) She said you mentioned Claire Kincaid.
Because Madeline's brother spent three months in the hospital thanks to a drunk driver.
I was not obsessing.
Don't worry.
For some reason she'd like to see you again.
Yes, Mr.
Burdett came to see me.
No, I can't tell you what we discussed.
So let's discuss my problem, Mr.
Just so happens in my spare time I'm president of a large company.
Go on.
This company doesn't hire women.
So I've mislead my employers and the shareholders by claiming I'm a man.
And they fell for it? Hard to believe.
Can I be fired for that? As a general rule, misrepresentations not material to your work are not grounds for dismissal.
So if they fire me for lying about my gender, or race, they're liable for a claim of wrongful termination? Yes.
But in the hypothetical, most executives are employed under personal services contracts, which have standard provisions for termination for acts of moral turpitude.
Such as lying.
But, again in the hypothetical, that could put your considerable stocks and pension benefits at risk.
You charge the average executive $20,000 to talk about those risks? No, what Joshua Burdett paid me is a retainer.
'Cause he thought he was about to get fired? Because his company was about to find out he's African American? I can't comment.
Burdett has a retirement package worth over $8,000,000.
With stock options, it's double that.
(LAUGHS) We're in the wrong business.
Burdett concluded it'd be cheaper to kill his wife.
Except he paid the lawyer a retainer.
The lawyer as much as told me that Burdett and his wife had decided to get their baby back.
There goes his motive.
Why do you always give me bad news while I'm digesting? If it's true, why didn't Burdett tell us? Is there somebody he's trying to protect? (SIGHING) He has an ex-wife and a teenage son.
Even if Burdett was willing to take the heat for his decision, maybe they weren't.
Will you please find out what they were doing that Sunday morning? I'll get this.
Frances Houston, Burdett's ex-wife, said she called him in the morning, just before he went to the pharmacy.
That's confirmed by her IUDs.
We got calls on her line and on her son's, roughly 20 minutes before and after Mrs.
Burdett was killed.
They live about 10 minutes from the Burdetts.
So either of them had the time to do it.
But look at these.
IUDs from last week.
Houston got a 12-minute collect call from a convenience store in Hobart, Indiana.
The adoptive mother, don't her parents live in Indiana? Yes.
Look at the next call Ms.
Houston made.
Western Union.
I doubt she was sending birthday greetings.
Houston wired $3,000 to a Mrs.
Teresa Gaydos in Hobart.
She's your mother-in-law, isn't she? Mr.
O'Brien, hindering prosecution is a felony.
If you don't cooperate now, today, I will prosecute you.
You and your wife will go to jail.
You will lose custody of your baby.
McCoy I mean it! People who get in the way of my murder cases get run over.
He tells you what he knows, you don't press charges against him or his wife.
Let's hear it.
Houston came to us before Burdett was arrested and she said, "Watch out.
Burdett didn't kill his wife.
" She said once he clears himself, he's gonna fight us for the baby.
She told us to take Maggie out of state.
She even offered us money.
Did she say why she was doing this? I can't understand how an educated woman like her could say it, but she said she didn't want "some nappy-haired little monkey" ruining her family.
Now you don't think he killed his wife? Thanks for telling us.
The bad news is, we might charge him with hindering prosecution.
Prosecution of whom? The police identified the fingerprints found in your bedroom and on the balcony.
They found yours, your wife's, your housekeeper's, and your ex-wife's.
Frances? She paid the O'Briens to take the baby out of state.
We think she killed your wife.
Anything you want to tell us, Mr.
Burdett? Uh, excuse us.
For now, whatever my client tells you is off the record.
Let's hear it.
Before we were married, I told Karin about my background.
It was our secret.
But the pregnancy was a mistake.
We argued for weeks about terminating it.
We finally agreed on the adoption.
But after we gave up our baby, Karin became so unhappy.
(SIGHING) I loved her, she wanted our child back, so that's what we decided to do.
That Saturday, I told my son the truth about everything.
The next morning, Frances called me.
She said David was angry and behaving erratically.
She begged me to reconsider.
I said our mind was made up.
I didn't know what to think after Karin died.
I called Frances.
She said Karin was dead and we had to protect our son.
She told you your son killed your wife? No.
No, not in so many words.
But that's what I understood.
That's why I misled the police.
I discussed your offer with Ms.
I explained that prosecutors don't just like to beat the other guy.
They want him to limp off the field.
No wiggle room, Ms.
Manslaughter one, eight-and-a-third-to-25, or she goes on trial for murder two.
Then you won't like my counter.
Second degree manslaughter, minimum time.
That's unrealistic.
We've got her prints, her pay-offs to the O'Briens.
I said man two, minimum time.
Do you really want to put your son through a trial, Ms.
Houston? Let her worry about her son.
Frankly, Ms.
Joyner, I'm surprised you'd represent a bigot.
I don't see a bigot here.
I see a woman deceived and pushed to the brink by a self-hating coward.
Everyone at my firm agrees, Mr.
No jury will ever convict her.
This trial is about a baby.
A child of white and African American parents.
Karin Burdett bore it.
She wanted to raise it.
That's why she's dead.
The evidence will show that Frances Houston knew Karin Burdett was home alone, that she struggled with her, and pushed her off of a balcony.
That she bribed a witness.
That she did all this because she didn't want her narrow-minded circle of friends to know that she had once been married to a black man.
Because, as she stated in the vicious vocabulary of racism, she didn't want a "nappy-haired little monkey" ruining her good name.
McCoy wants you to believe that my client is a bigot.
Well, I'm here to tell you she's not.
She's a realist.
She knows what goes on in America.
You'll hear that educated black men earn far less than their white counterparts.
That black men are denied the access, the promotions, the memberships given to white men.
That black men are routinely harassed and brutalized by the police.
That's what my client was thinking about.
She wanted to preserve for her son the protection the word "white" afforded him.
She didn't want him to have a lesser life, because the word "black" had been added next to his name.
If, at the end of this trial, you believe that my client caused the death of Karin Burdett, please understand it was not the premeditated act of a racist, but the unintentional act of a mother desperate to save the son she loves.
JACK: She didn't do it because she's a racist, she did it to protect her son from racists.
It explains their witness list.
Statisticians, social scientists.
You got to admit, that's some mitigation defense.
Something for every prejudice.
The white jurors wouldn't want their kids growing up black either.
And black jurors because they know that the playing field isn't level? If I were the defense, I wouldn't count on much support there.
How many whites on the jury? More than one? That's all Ms.
Houston needs for a mistrial.
If the jury disregards the facts.
Fine, you win their minds, she wins their hearts.
I'm not ready to concede anything.
All we have to do is convince the jury that her son would be no worse off living as a black man in this country.
You can start by making sure they never hear from these witnesses.
JOYNER: These witnesses are relevant, Your Honor.
Professor Murphy's study quantifies the economic discrepancies between the races.
Professor Harrison's work on law enforcement practices has been cited in every None of which has anything to do with her client.
It goes to her state of mind, her fear her son would suffer the fate of many African Americans.
Your Honor, if Ms.
Joyner wants to establish her client's state of mind, she can call her to the stand.
Even if I do, these witnesses are evidence that her beliefs and concerns about racism in this country are reasonable.
JACK: There's no question the beliefs are reasonable.
The issue is whether or not her client actually believes them.
We wouldn't be here if she didn't.
JUDGE STEIN: Simmer down, counselors.
Joyner, the case is about the defendant's state of mind, not the State of the Union.
And since these witnesses have no direct knowledge of what your client was thinking, they're excluded.
Now, let's get back to court.
Frances kept telling me we had to protect David.
I felt I had no choice but to lie to the police.
JACK: Before this incident, was the defendant aware you were black? Yes.
She found out six years ago, when my sister appeared at our door, looking for me.
In nearly 20 years of marriage she had never met your family? No.
I'd cut myself off from them.
You see, when I was a child, my mother always told me I had good skin, good features, good hair.
Back then, in Knoxville, Tennessee, "good" meant "white.
" I was often mistaken for white.
I could sit at the front of the bus, I could drink at the water fountain reserved for whites.
You can't imagine what an advantage that was when you're bone-dry thirsty on a hot summer's day and it's another 20 blocks to a colored water fountain.
After college, I got a good job, because I passed for white.
I was promoted, I was transferred to New York.
No one ever asked me if I was white.
Frances had no reason to question me.
JACK: After she met your sister, what happened? She was very upset.
She wanted a divorce.
In the divorce agreement, were any special conditions imposed by the defendant? Yes, Frances asked that Objection.
Approach, Your Honor? Your Honor, the witness and the defendant signed a binding agreement not to disclose the terms of their divorce.
Without paying a substantial penalty.
Burdett is willing to write Ms.
Houston a check.
There are third parties to be considered here.
Namely, the defendant's son.
McCoy, what term of the divorce do you want your witness to testify to? The defendant exacted his promise that he wouldn't tell anyone he was black.
We'll stipulate to that, Your Honor.
(SIGHING) All right.
Objection sustained.
Members of the jury, the defense stipulates for the record that Mr.
Burdett and Ms.
Houston agreed as a condition of their divorce not to disclose Mr.
Burdett's race.
Go on, Mr.
No more questions.
Burdett, doesn't the fact that no one found out you were black prove you're an accomplished liar? I lied once, on an application form.
After that, the question never came up.
You passed for white because it gave you an advantage over other African Americans, isn't that right? Yes.
You saw how blacks were treated by your white friends and colleagues? Yes.
You didn't want that to happen to you, isn't that right? Yes.
Then why make it happen for your son? Why did you decide now to come out of the racial closet? Things aren't the same anymore.
Really? When you started at Northfield Pharmaceuticals, how many black presidents, vice-presidents and directors were there? None.
And now? Three directors, in Human Resources and Marketing.
Out of how many executives? Ten? Thirty? Nationwide, over 150.
Well, the Reverend King can rest easy.
His dream has finally come to pass.
There's nothing in the divorce agreement other than what I told you.
I don't want to be taken by surprise.
Why did they object? I have no idea what Frances was thinking.
Now, you'll have to excuse me.
You looked at the divorce decree, Jack.
There was nothing there.
Pull the full record of the divorce.
Depositions, draft agreements, filings, everything.
Most of it's probably sealed.
Get a court order.
I tried to reason with Karin.
I begged her to think about Josh's son, and what she would be doing to him.
But I wasn't getting through.
What was going through your mind? (SIGHING) All I could think about was David.
How his life would be changed.
All of his friends are white.
And all of their friends are white.
I was afraid for him, for the same reasons that Josh kept secret his Objection.
JUDGE STEIN: Sustained.
Go on with what happened.
Karin said she wasn't feeling well, and that she needed some air.
She went out onto the balcony and our argument heated up.
At one point she was wagging her finger at me and I slapped it away.
And then suddenly she grabbed my hair and I pushed her.
Before I realized what was happening, she lost her balance and she went over the balcony.
Was that your intent? No.
All I could think about was David.
I just wanted to protect my son, as any mother would.
I never thought to kill Karin.
Thank you.
Did you seriously expect Mrs.
Burdett to abandon her baby girl for the sake of your son? I don't know what I expected her to do.
I just needed to talk to her.
Because you were concerned that your son's future was in peril if it became known he was black? Yes.
Even in this day and age? Oh, yes, Mr.
For every Tiger Woods, there's a thousand Fuzzy Zoellers and I did not want David to go through life facing that kind of prejudice.
Prejudice where? At school? Oh, yes.
Aren't there other African American students in his class? The only black student they have is from Bermuda.
Who decided to send your son to this school? It was your decision, wasn't it, Ms.
Houston? Objection.
Answer his question, Ms.
My father went to the Chase Academy.
They have excellent academics.
And no African American students.
Isn't that the real reason? No.
You wanted your son to go to a white school, to have white friends.
Isn't that right? No.
Because you don't like African Americans.
That's not true.
You didn't want your white friends to know you'd been married to one, did you? No.
That you'd shared your bed with a black man.
Been intimate with a black man, a "nappy-haired little monkey"? That's a lie.
I never said that.
The O'Briens were lying? Objection.
Everyone is a liar, everyone is a racist except you? Your Honor, I objected.
Sustained, Mr.
Isn't it true, Ms.
Houston, that your son has more to fear from your prejudice than society's? JOYNER: Objection.
No, I would like to answer Mr.
My son is not afraid of me.
He knows that I love him.
No more questions.
It has only been three days, Adam.
Three days, 10 days.
The jury is stalemated.
There's always the next time.
You have nothing better to do than prosecute this woman? It's a hate crime.
If that's not worth prosecuting, what are we doing here? I've been paging you I've been breathing six-year-old dust in a warehouse, reliving the mother of all divorces.
Burdett v.
It went all 15 rounds.
These are draft agreements from Josh Burdett, these are from Frances Houston.
Take a look at the custodial provisions.
Now look at the alimony proposals.
She's unbelievable.
Get Mr.
Burdett to confirm this.
You're right.
That's exactly what went on.
I was traveling on business two weeks out of every month.
I couldn't possibly take care of David.
It would have been nice to have this information before the trial.
We could have impeached your ex-wife's testimony.
Burdett, if there's a re-trial, I'm going to use this material, and I'm putting you on the stand to authenticate it and explain what it means.
Absolutely not.
My son doesn't know anything about this.
Burdett I won't do it.
Whatever happens to Frances or me, my son believes his parents love him.
I won't do anything to make him think otherwise.
I gave myself asthma for nothing.
We can't use these unless he authenticates them.
The jury resumes deliberations at 9:00 a.
Call Houston's lawyer, schedule a conference for 8:30.
No bagels and coffee? You should have told me.
I would have brought some.
Don't count on keeping your big appetite.
McCoy, that jury is out of oil.
The engine is freezing over.
I can smell it.
They're deadlocked.
I'm ready to set a new trial date right now.
And we'll hang that jury, too.
And the one after that.
One more trial, and it's over.
Houston, we uncovered some documents relating to your divorce.
I've highlighted the relevant portions.
When I got a divorce, I fought for custody of my child, but you actually fought not to have custody.
I don't know what you're talking about.
It's all there in the draft agreements.
Neither of you wanted custody.
Your husband for practical reasons.
And you He actually had to triple the alimony payments before you'd agree.
They're wrong.
What I see in these papers is a negotiation.
Whatever meaning you're reading into it Was confirmed by Mr.
Burdett himself.
And he'll testify to it at her next trial.
She didn't want the boy because he's black.
Josh would never get up in court.
He already agreed to do it.
The next jury won't buy your Mary-Mother-of-God routine.
They'll see you for who you are.
A bigot whose racism runs so deep, you even hate your own son.
I assume there's an offer coming? Man one, eight-and-a-third-to-25.
Well, I want to see the other attorneys at the firm.
The white attorneys? You walk out that door, Ms.
Houston, the offer is off the table.
You'll be retried for murder two.
You have an attorney present.
Give me your answer now.
You have a deal.
We'll notify the judge.
You have no idea what I went through, Mr.
Only in your own mind, Ms.
You're lucky she didn't call your bluff.
About Burdett testifying? You don't feel bad about lying to her? She got off easy.
Burdett's lie cost her 20 years.
Mine only cost her eight.