Law & Order (1990) s11e23 Episode Script

Judge Dread

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.
What's it today, Judge? Murder? Rape? Possession with intent.
Thirteen pounds of heroin.
What's that get you? A lethal injection.
I have a lunch today at 1:00.
I got it, Judge.
(SCREAMING) That son of a bitch! Are you all right, Rodney? I got winged.
Get this man medical attention.
COURT OFFICER: Right away.
Central, we need an EMS.
One man down.
Judge, you better get inside.
Detective Hill got out of his car, this guy runs right at the Judge, shooting.
Hill's the one who got him? Yeah, he took one himself.
Really? How bad? Paramedics said he'll be fine.
Damn! Talk about smoking guns.
COP: No wallet, no ID on him.
BRISCOE: And where's the Judge? Court officers took her inside.
Who is she? Uh, Judge Linda Karlin.
BRISCOE: Thanks.
Karlin's the one that put away most of the Washington Heights Cowboys a few years back.
Now who'd wanna see her dead? Hey, how's the arm? Not bad.
Did a good job back there.
I don't know, I think maybe I let my guard down a little.
I been on her six months, nothing's ever happened.
BRISCOE: Hey, don't sweat it.
You saved her life.
ED: You ever see the shooter before? Never.
How long's Karlin been getting this door-to-door service? Three years.
I pick her up, take her to work, hand her off to the court officers.
Most judges take the subway.
Not Karlin.
She's got someone on her 2417.
On account of her reputation as a high-profile hard-ass.
ED: Where's she now? Knowing her, on the bench.
If I don't go right back to work these people will think they can intimidate me.
Well, still, you might try taking a few extra precautions, Judge.
We can get you a vest.
The man's dead, isn't he, detectives? He might not have been working alone.
Yes, well, a lot of dangerous people pass through my courtroom.
Well, you recognize this one? He's about 200 pounds, 6'3".
I don't recognize him.
What about your calendar, Judge? Any gang members, any organized crime cases? Nothing out of the ordinary.
Look, these people don't like me.
And I don't like them.
How about somebody other than "these people"? Say, a defense attorney you pissed off? Just about every defense attorney who walks out of my courtroom is angry about something.
BRISCOE: You're not giving us much to go on, Judge.
I've been on the bench for 14 years.
I was an Assistant D.
before that.
I made a lot of enemies.
We got no print matches for our shooter in the system.
Any luck with the gun? Serial number's gone but ballistics said they might be able to recover it.
A run-and-shoot with a defaced .
Sounds pretty low-tech.
Hey, if it was one of the perps on her caseload, his prints would've popped.
Well, if we don't know the who, how about the why? Maybe somebody was doing a friend a favor.
I mean, in some circles, knocking her off would be like doing community service.
You sound like she deserved it.
Well, I'm just saying this woman racks up years on people like Tiger racks up tournaments.
Well, before we go culling through 10,000 case files, let's rule out the usual suspects.
I begged my wife to at least take the day off, but that's Linda.
ED: How long you two been married? Twenty-two years.
We met at a fundraiser when she was in the D.
's office.
Our first conversation was a heated debate over the death penalty.
Sounds romantic.
Let me guess, she was pro, you were con.
My wife's a woman of strong convictions.
Can you think of anybody who might want to hurt your wife, Mr.
Karlin? Besides the criminals she prosecutes? Any financial problems? I wish we'd sold our tech portfolio a year ago.
You and me both.
Has your wife received any threats recently? Linda doesn't like to bring that part of the job home.
It's all handled at the courthouse.
Well, the Karlins' private life sounds like a snooze.
Let's go check out some of these death threats.
Needle in a haystack time.
Threats against judges are tough to investigate and most aren't serious anyway.
Karlin ever get any threats? She's our best customer.
We need to see what you got.
I was expecting you.
Anything recent? We found this just last Tuesday.
"Karlin, you stank ass bitch," "I'm gonna make you lick my MAC-10.
" I take it the motion was denied.
We found that on a bench, in one of the bull pens on the 12th floor.
BRISCOE: How many guys went through that lock-up the day you found it? I'm not sure.
Cell capacity's about 100.
I can get you a list.
You ever pursue it? Even if we found this guy, it's probably protected by the First Amendment and there's nothing we could prosecute on.
There is now.
Court's in recess.
Judge Karlin's not back till 2:15.
Actually we need to speak to you.
Any of these guys have a case here last Tuesday? I wouldn't recognize the names.
Tuesday's the Judge's calendar day.
BRISCOE: You got a copy of the calendar? Hey, this isn't Yankee Stadium, huh? Hats off.
Right here.
Is there any way somebody could smuggle a weapon in here? I have two guys hand-scanning everyone who walks through here.
And that's after they go through the metal detector downstairs.
Is that standard procedure? Standard for Judge Karlin.
ED: I got a match.
Evan Bruce.
Kidnap two.
I remember that case.
It was an a.
We brought the guy in from the Tombs next door.
BRISCOE: We're looking for an inmate.
Right place.
You got a name? Evan Bruce.
Forget to read him his rights? No, we're here to collect on his pledge to the Police Athletic League.
Evan Bruce.
Checked in in September.
AW problems? Problems? Yeah, you know, disciplinary infractions? CLERK: Nothing.
How about psych work-ups? That information's confidential.
I wouldn't have access.
BRISCOE: Well, we need to talk to him.
Too late.
He was released three days ago.
Now why I gotta come down here? You realize threatening a judge is a felony? I didn't threaten no judge That's crazy, man.
More like stupid.
Somebody sent Judge Karlin this little love letter.
Whoever wrote it called her a stank ass bitch.
Wasn't me.
ED: We want you to write it for us.
Write it.
Stank ass bitch.
Look, Lennie.
He misspelled bitch.
All right.
Look, I was just letting go of my anger from being in there so long.
Is that what you call taking three shots at a judge? Is this guy a friend of yours? Does he look like a friend of mine? ED: Man, we don't know who you keep company with.
Look, half the people that walked out of that courtroom wanted that bitch I mean, that Judge, dead.
Yeah, but most of them didn't write her a threatening note.
But why I'm gonna kill her? My lawyer beat the case on a speedy trial motion.
Ain't nothing she can do to me now.
(DOOR OPENING) BRISCOE: Well, maybe you better hang on to that lawyer 'cause we're gonna send this to the D.
and see if they want to prosecute.
Just got this from ballistics.
They recovered the serial number from the gun.
It traced to the Lodi, New Jersey police department.
So what brings you to Lodi, detectives? We're investigating an attempted murder in Manhattan.
You know this guy? No.
You said "attempted murder.
" Yeah.
He was killed in a shoot-out with the NYPD.
His .
38 traced to your department.
Well, we don't use .
38's anymore.
We went to 9 millimeter automatics two years ago.
Yeah, so did most of us.
Could it be that one of your guys kept one as a back-up? We traded them all in to knock the price down on our new weapons.
You mean there are police-issue guns on the street? This is a small department with a tight budget.
We can't afford to melt them down.
This gun was used to shoot at a judge.
(SIGHS) Look, if a dealer sold the gun legally, it should show up on the state's database.
Excuse me.
You Vince Ellis? Far as I know.
We got your name off the state handgun registry.
You bought a .
38 about a year ago? Yeah, but I don't got it no more.
It was stolen.
ED: When was that? Noticed it missing about two weeks ago.
BRISCOE: You report it to the police? Didn't get around to it yet.
You heard about this judge who got shot at in the city? One where the shooter got killed? What about it? They found your gun in the shooter's hand.
Oh, God.
ED: Who is it? You know, we could charge you right now as an accomplice, Mr.
It's my nephew, Frankie.
Frank Morris.
Where's he live? Over in Paterson.
He was in here a few nights last week.
Asked if he could use my .
And you let him? Said he'd give me 200 just to borrow it.
I told him no way.
Next night I come in and it's gone.
That's a pretty convenient explanation.
It's the truth.
Look, $200? I knew something real bad was going down.
I ain't risking my place here for that kind of money.
So why'd you file down the serial number? I didn't.
Frankie must have done it so it couldn't get back to me.
He couldn't even get that right.
So where is this in Paterson? How long are you guys gonna be here? Couple more hours.
And then who's gonna move out his stuff? We'll get back to you on that.
Well, if Morris got paid, it isn't here.
Got some nice magazines.
Hot Lace, Rough and Ready.
Are you gonna need those? Here's a driver's license with the name John Sheppard on it.
Yeah, and Morris's picture.
Standard issue for a swindler that old.
Hey, did Morris have a car? Uh, yeah.
The Camaro out front.
It's worth a look.
We're not breaking any laws here, are we, Detective? Hey, the guy's dead.
It's not like he's gonna be filing a suppression motion.
These 85's are a little tougher than the 86's.
Anything before '82's cake.
Got it.
Could have used one of these on prom night.
Ed, you wanna pop the trunk? Nothing back here, Ed.
I got nothing here, either.
So what do you want to do with it? Can you tow it? Sure.
What was the owner's name? Frank Morris.
Morris? Morris? Wait a second.
I think the staties were looking at a guy with that name.
Looking at him for what? Murder.
Chief witness in a narcotics case got killed.
Morris was our only suspect.
Who was the defendant? Major heroin dealer down in Camden.
We flipped one of his clockers.
He got dead three days before the trial started.
Shooting? Middle of the day, two pops while he's killing a brew on the front porch.
Nobody saw a thing.
What's this dealer's connection to Morris? No prior relationship we could make out.
It's the best we could figure Morris is a small-time low-life who's trying to make his bones.
His sheet was clean.
Yeah, kid had a great future ahead of him.
So, I take it you just didn't have much evidence.
Nothing we could make stick.
But we could put him in the informant's neighborhood the day of the murder.
And he visited the defendant in Rahway prison a week before.
A hit man who makes house calls.
Karlin's a Manhattan judge, so anybody she puts in pending trial is either in Rikers or the Tombs.
So we pulled the visitors log from the last three weeks.
You find Morris? John Sheppard.
Now that's the name that was on the fake ID we found in Morris's apartment.
So Sheppard visited an inmate at Rikers named Randall Wylie on March 7th.
They spent eight days before the hit.
Well, what charge was this Wylie in for? It's a paper case.
The guy's a CPA.
Now here's the kicker.
Wylie's case is currently before Judge Karlin.
(BUZZER BUZZING) Have you guys spoken to my lawyer? We're not here about your current case, Mr.
Oh, then what's this about? According to the prison log, a John Sheppard visited you on March 7th.
John Sheppard? BRISCOE: Yeah.
You know him? No.
ED: Then why'd he come and visit you? An officer came by and said someone was here for me in the visiting area.
When I came out, it was this guy, Sheppard.
I asked him who he was.
He told me my lawyer had sent him.
Sent him about what? He said he was assisting her on my case.
Assisting her how? WYLIE: That's what I was thinking.
After a couple minutes it became clear he didn't know anything about my case either.
Sol left.
You didn't find this strange, Mr.
Wylie? A lot of strange things happen in here.
I figured somebody must have just written down the wrong inmate number or something.
But he knew who you were? Look.
Look, what does this have to do with me? A week after he visited you, John Sheppard tried to kill Judge Karlin.
You know who Judge Karlin is, don't you? I had nothing to do with that.
So it's just a coincidence that he comes to visit you out of the blue and then a week later he takes a shot at your judge.
I don't think my lawyer would want me talking to you anymore.
This guy's about as menacing as Jeff van Gundy.
And it doesn't even look like he's facing much time.
Why risk killing a judge? Hey, he lied about how much time he spent with Morris that day.
Let's see if the Lou can pull some strings in the frauds department.
Thanks for coming down, Detective.
So what's up with my old buddy, Randall Wylie? We're just trying to figure out if he's capable of more than just securities violations.
As in Judge Karlin? That's what we're thinking.
Wylie's a CFO of a small investment bank.
Wife, two little girls, plush house in Westchester.
Got a little greedy, he took some stock from a company he was consulting.
He unloaded the shares, racked up almost half a million dollars in profit.
But what's your gut, though? Was he desperate enough to hire a hit man? The indictment turned his world upside down, and he was fired by his firm.
We took him out of his office in handcuffs.
That had to be tough on his ego.
And his wallet.
froze most of his accounts, except for what his family needed to pay his bills.
So your answer is yes.
My answer is who the hell knows what anybody's capable of, push come to shove.
Here are the financials you wanted.
Wylie's got more accounts than I got dollars.
Brokerage accounts, money markets, four checking accounts.
Yeah, but he ain't got nothing in them, $300, $400, and all I'm seeing here are mortgage payments, car payments, credit card bills.
He couldn't afford to buy a gun, much less hire a killer.
And there are no major withdrawals, even before the freeze.
And here's his tax returns.
Gross income, 246 grand.
Maybe he put some of that money in his mattress.
Here's his schedule A.
You know, Wylie's got a New York State college tuition account? I thought his two girls were little.
The college tuition program's about three years old.
It helps people save for their kids' education.
Can anybody open an account here? Yeah, if you live in New York and have a kid.
How old's the kid have to be? Well, you can open an account the same day you give birth.
And does the money go directly to the kid's college? You can withdraw from the account, but you incur a tax penalty if it's not used for tuition.
Does a Randall Wylie still have an account here? Let's see.
Randall Wylie.
Yeah, the account's still active.
Any withdrawals recently? (SIGHING) There's one on March 12th.
That's three days before the shooting.
For how much? Practically the whole account.
I guess he wasn't worried about a tax penalty.
We pulled the IUDs from the phone Wylie had access to at Rikers.
A week before the shooting there was a call to the bar where Morris got the gun.
Can we put Morris on the call? He was at the bar.
The next day he spent 25 minutes with Wylie in the visitors' area.
Money change hands? Well, there was a $100,000 withdrawal from Wylie's daughters' tuition account.
Any evidence it went to Morris? Nothing so far.
Wylie's not some Colombian drug lord, Anita.
I'm having trouble imagining some milquetoast CPA ordered a hit on a judge.
Yeah, we're having some problems buying into it ourselves.
Okay, well Jack and I will talk to the A.
in our Frauds Bureau who was handling Wylie's case.
We'll, see how serious his situation was.
You really think he went after Karlin? You tell us.
I guess anything's possible.
Did you offer Wylie a plea? Yeah, two-to-six.
And he wasn't interested? Never got that far.
Karlin wouldn't agree to the deal.
She thought it was too lenient.
Was it? It was nothing different than what Wylie could've gotten next door.
But Karlin wanted top count, no promise on sentence.
On the next adjourn date, she put him in Rikers.
With no priors.
She found out that Wylie's wife went to the Cayman islands.
Off-shore bank accounts? She flew in and out the same day.
Well, she's not there for the snorkeling.
Karlin remanded him as a flight risk.
How did Wylie react? He was pretty shaken up.
When the court officers came in to cuff him, they had to drag his wife out kicking and screaming.
I'm late for an arraignment.
So if there's anything else, I'll be in my office later.
Okay, thanks.
Sounds like Wylie had a reason to want Karlin dead.
And if one reason wasn't enough, she gave him another.
You think what she did was inappropriate? I respect her right to turn down a plea if she thought it was too lenient.
But it forces Wylie to go to trial.
How many judges would balk at a chance to dispose of a case? She treats her job as more than a numbers game.
More power to her.
A woman after your own heart.
The voters re-elected her twice, Jack.
We know that Wylie's wife was pretty angry.
It wouldn't be the first time that a family member went too far.
Well, I have a meeting with her in Westchester.
I'm gonna drive up there this afternoon.
I'm sorry, but you wasted your time coming all the way up here.
Actually, I was hoping you could clarify a few things for me, Mrs.
If you're not clear, why are you prosecuting my husband? At this point, we haven't made any formal decision.
No, but you've made up your mind already, haven't you? He did meet with the man who shot at Judge Karlin.
Believe what you want.
My husband is an accountant, Ms.
Not a killer.
We found the money, Mrs.
What money? The money from your daughters' college tuition.
I also know about the trip to the Caymans.
First this Judge and now you.
I thought people were supposed to be presumed innocent? If you assisted your husband in procuring money to hire this man Are you threatening me? I think what I'm doing is offering you a chance to save what's left of your family.
That money was used to pay our legal fees.
Now get the hell out of my house.
You expect me to help you put away my own client? We could always subpoena your account records.
And I can always refuse to comply.
Somehow I don't see you in prison stripes, Danielle.
Well, you're gonna see me a lot more in pin stripes, Jack, because as of yesterday, I represent Randall Wylie in the attempted murder case.
Here's my notice of appearance.
Well, that's a convenient way to shield yourself from being called as a witness at his trial.
There are ways around that, Danielle, if that's what this is.
You wouldn't do that to me, would you, Jack? In a New York minute.
The minute Karlin blocked a plea bargain, my trial fee kicked in.
Here's the deposit slip.
$100,000 cash.
You took your money up front.
And I so wanted to sandbag you with it at trial.
It's just too bad that Janice opened her big mouth.
LEWIN: It's a good thing Melnick came clean.
You'd have spent your summation wiping the shoe polish off your mouth.
Meanwhile, we have no proof Wylie actually paid Morris.
Could have been COD.
His hitman trusted him more than his lawyer did.
So without connecting him to a payment, do we even have a case? Wylie met with Morris face to face about a week before the murder attempt.
I seriously doubt it was a conversation about tax advice.
Why would a man like Wylie stoop to something like this? 'Cause he stole half a million dollars.
Well, there's a small difference between greed and murdering a judge.
Well, how about a judge who wouldn't cut him a deal and threw him in jail? Frauds Bureau was ready to take a plea, Karlin put the kibosh on it.
One would think our people knew more about the case than she did.
I've had a half-dozen cases with her.
She listens to our recommendations, but she tends to make up her own mind.
How did Wylie find Morris? It's hard to imagine his firm has a murder-for-hire consultant.
Maybe he started hanging out with the wrong element.
Randall Wylie was remanded without bail by Judge Karlin on March 4th.
Assigned C-17, lower tier 3.
That a dorm or a cell? That's a single inmate unit.
He was on suicide watch.
Did he make an attempt? Not that we know of.
In this case the suicide watch was requested by his own lawyer.
Did Wylie have contact with any other inmates? We have SOA's patrolling the areas, making sure nobody hangs up.
JACK: SOA's? Suicide Observation Aides.
Staff or inmates? Inmates.
As long as they're not charged with murder.
To avoid any conflict of interest.
CARMICHAEL: Who was on Wylie's tier? MCGOWAN: Randall was wound up pretty tight when he got here.
Never been in jail before.
JACK: Did he ever talk about killing himself? Seemed okay to me.
Took his belt and shoelaces away, just in case.
Gave him a pass by every five, 10 minutes.
Did you spend anytime with him? Yeah, we talked a little bit.
Mostly about his case.
Did Wylie ever say anything about Judge Karlin? Oh, I probably shouldn't be talking to you guys.
CARMICHAEL: What's the problem, Mr.
McGowan? Nothing.
You know we can always notify the A.
who's prosecuting you that you're obstructing our investigation.
They got their own set of rules in here, you know that.
JACK: Honor among thieves.
Don't snitch on nobody.
Unless it pays off.
You got something for me? If you have something for us.
I'm looking at 25 years on an arson two rap.
What exactly did you burn down? A store and nobody got hurt.
If you plead to a C felony, we can try and get you minimum.
Provided you're straight with us.
And the D.
prosecuting me's gonna go along with this? Our case has priority.
Then I guess we got a deal.
According to McGowan, Wylie was in a rage about Judge Karlin from day one.
He was obsessed about finding away to get back at her for putting "someone like him" into that hell-hole.
That's pretty tough talk from a CPA.
He was looking down the teeth of atrial and a long sentence.
He had nothing but bad choices.
And his only way out was the ultimate in judge-shopping.
So you actually believe this McGowan? We found him, Nora.
McGowan only corroborated what we already suspected.
I'm sure you two cut him a pretty good deal.
It wasn't like our pool of potential witnesses was the boys tabernacle choir.
But we still can't connect him and Morris with a payment.
Our forensic accountants have been all over the paperwork.
So far, no luck.
It's a pretty solid circumstantial case, even without the money.
So some schlep goes to Rikers for a few months and we manage to turn him into a cold blooded killer.
Pick him up.
Randall Wylie, we need you to come with us.
Can't you see I'm with my wife? Stand up, Mr.
You're under arrest.
Course I'm under arrest.
What else would I be doing here? Yeah, only this time it's for attempted murder.
Randall, what's going on? I'm already in jail, for God's sake.
Tell it to the judge.
I knew I was right about Wylie.
Right about him in what way, Judge? You sit on the bench long enough, you get a feel for guys like that.
He's a businessman with no priors.
Are you saying you knew he was dangerous? I thought you came here to prep me for the trial.
I did.
You're gonna be cross examined on the appearance of bias.
And I'm sure you'll be able to lay that misconception to rest.
They'll say you threw Wylie in jail because of what his wife did.
That was hardly bias.
And when our office proposed a plea bargain you refused to go along with it.
I wasn't satisfied your office was sending the right message to white collar defendants.
Are you second-guessing me? The defense'll paint all this as being Draconian.
Wylie was going to run.
I stopped him.
Danielle Melnick made nice to some young A.
who'll probably end up working at her law firm someday.
Only you didn't propose any alternative.
The constitution does that, Jack.
It's called atrial.
(SIGHS) I've given you your motive evidence wrapped in a ribbon.
And that's why we're calling you, Judge.
Only don't underestimate a jury's sympathy.
I don't.
That's why I prefer bench trials.
KARLIN: Randall Wylie was before me on a fraud indictment.
I was assigned to preside over all pre-trial proceedings, then the trial.
How much time was the defendant facing if convicted of all charges against him? There were three separate frauds, for which he could be sentenced consecutively.
Forty-five years was the aggregate.
JACK: I turn your attention to January 17th.
What, if anything, happened with regard to Mr.
Wylie's case? The defense motion was on my calendar.
When the case was called, Ms.
Benedict, the A.
from your Frauds Bureau, told the court that Mrs.
Wylie took a flight to the Cayman islands and returned the same evening.
JACK: What did you do upon learning this information? Mrs.
Wylie was in the courtroom that day, so I asked her if it was true.
JACK: What did she say? That it was none of my business.
JACK: What happened next? KARLIN: I remanded the defendant as a flight risk.
JACK: And what transpired in the courtroom? My court officers placed handcuffs on Mr.
Wylie and led him into the pens.
At that point Mrs.
Wylie began throwing a tantrum.
She said her husband didn't belong in Rikers Island that I was out to get him.
JACK: Now, in the days preceding this incident, did you take any other action with regard to Mr.
Wylie's case? A plea bargain was brought to me, I rejected it.
How much time was involved? Two years.
Not the 45 year aggregate? KARLIN: Far from it.
And when this plea bargain was refused how did Mr.
Wylie react? He was incensed.
Nothing further.
What's your reputation on the bench, Judge Karlin? I like to think it's tough, but fair.
But you routinely mete out prison sentences in the hundreds of years.
I wouldn't say routinely.
But you do impose three-digit sentences when you know that the absolute maximum a defendant can serve for a non-capital case is 50-years-to-life? Is that right? I do it to make a point.
What's that? To enrage the people you sentence? That predators, who are brought to justice in my courtroom, will not be coddled.
MELNICK: So I take it you've remanded hundreds of defendants the way you remanded Mr.
Wylie? Yes.
MELNICK: And I'm sure that Mrs.
Wylie is not the first relative of a defendant to express disapproval with you? Most people behave in my courtroom.
Why is that? Because they're scared to death of you? A healthy respect for authority goes a long way, Ms.
Melnick, especially these days.
Judge, I'd like you to take a look at defense exhibit four.
Is this your likeness, on a glassine envelope used to package heroin, with the brand name Judge Dread? I've seen this before.
I don't like it, but I'm not sure it's such a bad thing.
At least the dealers will know what's in store for them when they're caught selling this poison to our children.
MELNICK: Before you were appointed to the bench, you prosecuted thousands of defendants as an Assistant D.
, is that right? Yes.
And you've probably sent an equal number of defendants to state prison as a Supreme Court judge, am I right? Close to it, yes.
So would it be fair to say that you were hated by virtually everyone over whom you have presided? Objection.
No, I want to answer that.
This isn't a popularity contest.
If these defendants liked me, Ms.
Melnick, I wouldn't be doing my job.
I met Randall Wylie on his first night at Rikers.
I was on duty on his tier as a Suicide Observation Aide.
Was he suicidal? He was mad.
Mad at whom? The judge who put him in there.
JACK: What, specifically, did he say? Well, at first he was just trash talking about how, you know, she was trying to screw him over.
JACK: And then? And then after awhile, he started talking about how he was gonna take her out.
Killing her? Yeah.
JACK: When exactly did this happen? I remember one day he said that he was He was getting out and I probably wouldn't see him again.
Anyway, later that night, he was right back on the rock.
But that's when he started talking about it seriously.
What do you mean? Well, he said nobody could screw him and get away with it, and he was gonna find someone on the outside who would take care of the situation once and for all.
JACK: Did you have any further conversations with him of this nature? I remember about a week before the Judge was shot at, I came by, Randall was downstairs for a visit.
Later I asked him if it was his wife and he said it was someone he was doing business with.
Nothing further.
Let's see, Mr.
McGowan, you were previously convicted of grand larceny? Yeah.
And then you set a fire in a store? I pled guilty to that, yeah.
MELNICK: Well, did you do it, Mr.
McGowan? Yes, I did.
MELNICK: Why? Was it an accident? I had a problem with somebody who worked there.
I made a mistake and I'm serving my time for it.
Well, you made a deal for the minimum allowable sentence in exchange for this testimony, right? Pretty much.
And you testified that you spoke with Mr.
Wylie on several occasions about Judge Karlin? Yes, I did.
MELNICK: Did you also speak to my client on other occasions when Judge Karlin's name did not come up? Sure.
So would it be fair to say that over the course of several months, you developed a personal relationship with Mr.
Wylie? Yeah, I guess you could say that.
You befriended him because, why? You're just a hell of a nice guy? Objection.
JUDGE: Sustained.
Nothing further.
When Judge Karlin remanded me that day, I was stunned.
I couldn't believe she would put me in jail for something my wife did.
What happened when you got to Rikers? Well, even before I got there, something happened.
This inmate on the bus punched me in the face and made me give him my wristwatch.
So what was your emotional condition when you arrived? Scared out of my mind.
It was the worst day of my life.
When did you first meet Jimmy McGowan? WYLIE: I think it was the next day.
He asked what a guy like me was doing there, and basically, I told him what happened with Judge Karlin.
MELNICK: And were you angry about that? Of course.
So what did Mr.
McGowan say? Jimmy seemed to know all about Judge Karlin.
A lot more than I did.
He told me these stories that scared the hell out of me.
MELNICK: What kind of stories, Mr.
Wylie? Well, about how she'd put away guys for hundreds of years for selling a few bags of coke.
That in her eyes you were guilty before you were proven innocent.
And if the prosecutor couldn't make a case, she would do it for them.
MELNICK: How many times did Mr.
McGowan talk to you about Judge Karlin? Just about every time he had the chance.
He said that if I didn't figure out some way to get out from under her, my case was hopeless.
She'd send me upstate and my wife would divorce me.
I'd never see my kids again.
MELNICK: So what happened next? Jimmy offered to help.
Really? What was his offer? He said he can put me in touch with someone who could take care of the situation for me.
I asked him what he meant.
He said, "What do you think I mean?" And what did you think he meant, Mr.
Wylie? A professional killer.
What happened next? Well, he mentioned this uh Three or four times, and I would say "No, no" And then one day out of the blue he said there was a guy coming to the visiting room to meet me.
I should at least hear what he had to say.
So you actually had a face-to-face meeting with Frank Morris? I know how it sounds, but I just needed to get Jimmy off my back.
So, I went down for the meeting Where Frank Morris was waiting for you? And I started to tell him that I didn't want to go through with it and then he mentioned that he knew where my house was.
Where my kids went to school.
MELNICK: So what did you do? I went back to my cell and I thought to myself, "This is absolutely insane! I can't believe I got myself involved with these people.
" So the next time I saw Jimmy, I told him that I was just going to take my chances with Judge Karlin.
And how did Mr.
McGowan react? He said, "Hey, it's your life going down the drain.
" And that was the last time we talked about it.
About a week later, I found out what happened.
I couldn't believe it.
Did you ever hire Frank Morris to kill Judge Karlin? Absolutely not.
Did you ever pay him or anyone else any money to do that? Not a cent.
Thank you.
Did we get duped? Either that or Wylie gave an award-winning performance.
Jack? Hard to say.
But Wylie's a scam artist.
That's why they threw him in prison in the first place.
But he was in jail because Judge Karlin threw him in there.
Well, we throw people in jail every day.
How many of them end up by discussing pay-back with a hired killer? Only if McGowan were a cop, they'd be arguing entrapment.
That Wylie was induced to commit a crime he never would have committed otherwise.
He'd probably walk away from this.
Only McGowan wasn't a cop.
I know exactly who he was He was an arsonist who got the minimum.
It'd mean he planned this from the start, that he knew we were gonna come looking for him.
He set himself up to be the hero.
Who's playing us, Nora? A guy who sets fires or a guy who mined the loopholes in the Security Act of 1934? We bet on the wrong horse, that's all.
Desperate people do desperate things.
It doesn't matter what company they keep.
Why do you always believe the worst in people, Jack? Who, me? Spend a few more years in this place, you'll be right there with us.
I like to think I can do this job without becoming a cynic.
I'm not a cynic.
I get up every morning hoping to find an honest man.
Then let's make sure the punishment fits the crime.
If McGowan got three to six and there's the least chance he pushed Wylie into this, then Wylie shouldn't do 25-to-life.
You're the boss.
(BUZZER BUZZING) Asking to meet with a defendant the night before you cross-examine him? This is a first, even for you, Jack.
We have an offer.
Like I said, this is a first.
What is it? Twelve-and-a-half- to-25.
(STAMMERING) Years? CARMICHAEL: You tried to kill a judge.
Don't you understand how it happened? JACK: We heard what you tried to sell to the jury.
After everything McGowan supposedly said to you, there's no way you expected him to call it off.
Whatever pressures you were under, Mr.
Wylie, they don't excuse your actions.
I'm assuming we have blanket immunity in here.
Queen for a day.
They were threatening me.
I didn't know what else to do.
CARMICHAEL: How about reporting it to the authorities? The authorities can't protect you in here.
You could have told someone you had a change of heart.
Or you could have tried to stop it.
I was scared.
Too scared to tell your own lawyer? If he testifies he told you, Danielle, we'll call you to corroborate it.
CARMICHAEL: You made no effort to openly repudiate the crime, Mr.
The law's clear on renunciation, you can't make it out.
I think my lawyer's doing pretty well.
JACK: All she's done is create some sympathy.
Once I cross examine you, the jury won't have much of it left.
You'll spend the rest of your life in prison.
If you're so confident, Jack, why the offer? In our minds there's a sliver of doubt that if Jimmy McGowan hadn't been assigned to your client's tier, we wouldn't be here today.
You made some foolish decisions, Mr.
Don't make another one.
I heard you're cutting a deal with Wylie.
That's right.
What's he getting? Twelve-and-a-half- to-25.
That's outrageous.
I have given out more time for narcotics possession.
That's well known.
When Wylie took a shot at me, he took a shot at every judge in the courthouse.
They'll be coming after prosecutors next.
You know, no matter how much time Wylie gets, I don't think it's going to deter the next maniac.
And I also don't think it's appropriate for you to be here putting in your two cents.
I am the victim in this case.
I should have been consulted.
Your feelings toward this defendant have been duly noted.
Are you questioning my impartiality, Nora? Everyone here respects your courage.
All the sacrifices that you and your family have made.
We just come from two different places.
I try to enforce the law, you try to compromise it.
It's called prosecutorial discretion.
So you make a bargain with Jimmy McGowan, then it backfires and you have to cut a deal with Wylie.
(SIGHS DEEPLY) I'm not happy about McGowan.
But any judge who reflexively imposes the maximum in every case just forces the hard decisions on the rest of us.
I changed this city! In case you hadn't noticed it, you can walk down the streets these days without having to kick a crack vial out of your way to the sound of gunfire in the background.
That'll make a great sound bite one day.
I'm still not changing my decision about Wylie.
Do whatever you want.
I still have him in front of me on securities fraud.
That indictment was covered by the plea bargain.
How can you possibly think that's appropriate? It's my job.
Until someone else is sitting in this chair, I'll continue to do what I think is right.
Judge Karlin called.
She wants to make a victim impact statement at Wylie's sentencing.
Oh, that's her right.
So, all things being equal, is Wylie a killer? CARMICHAEL: That's a tough question.
Does the man make Rikers or does Rikers make the man? I think Judge Karlin had something to do with it.
JACK: Funny thing is, Wylie got away from her.
That's what he's been trying to do all along.