Law & Order (1990) s14e11 Episode Script


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.
It's like she expects me to read her mind, for crying out loud.
Well, you're supposed to do it without her having to ask.
You know, it shows you're considerate or something.
Shows you're psychic.
And by some miracle, I figure out what she wants, two seconds later she changes her mind.
Take last night.
Where do we eat? She says, "You choose.
I don't care.
" So I say, "Patsy's.
" And suddenly she does care and says, "Anyplace but Patsy's.
" Am I boring you? That guy.
What about him? The weenie-waver Sarge was talking about? Likes to flash the old Chinese ladies while they're doing their morning tai chiJackie Chan.
Could be.
Hey, pal, talk to you? Hey, you, stop.
! Police.
! Stop.
! Get back here.
! Police! Stop! Hey, get back here.
! Whoa! What's the matter with you? Why'd you run, dirtball, huh? You was chasing me! Stay down! C- pop to Central.
We have an apparent D.
At Roosevelt Park.
I tackled him, Richie, not killed him.
Not him.
Bus is on the way.
White male, mid-20s, looks like he was homeless.
Sure he's not just sleeping it off? Nobody smells this bad.
I don't care how many showers they miss.
Found these in his pockets.
A locker key and some loose change.
What, are you burning the midnight oil? Man, I was catching up on my DD-5's.
I didn't get home till almost 2:00 in the morning.
Plus I think I'm coming down with whatever's going around.
Malchiodi, to what do we owe the pleasure? Facial contusions, broken bones, two days' worth of decomp.
Factor in the cold weather, I'd say he's been dead a week.
How do you get a week? Bugs don't lie.
Don't know how.
Check it out.
Maggots, pupa beetles.
Who was on the buffet line when gives you your approximate time of death.
Plus, fluid seepage Yeah, yeah, we get the picture.
There's no way he's been lying here a week without somebody noticing.
He was on ice somewhere.
So that means the body was dumped here either late last night or early this morning.
Damn, he took a beating.
Of a vehicular variety.
Safety glass, like from a windshield, and paint flakes.
And he's got tib-fib breaks in both legs.
Bumper fractures.
And you thought you were feeling run down.
It's definitely a hit-and-run.
Confirmed that the glass and the paint are from a car.
Beck's working on both.
I've never seen him happier.
You know what would make me happy? A name to go with our victim.
What "John Doe" doesn't do it for you? You ran his prints through B.
? First thing we did.
No soap.
So no I.
On the vic, no lead on the car, no witnesses.
They can't all be gimmes.
The vic had 26 cents and a key from one of those coin-operated lockers.
He was homeless, but he had a locker.
It's a safe place to keep his stuff.
It's better than a shopping cart.
After 9/11, how many public lockers are left in this city? I mean, uh, Port Authority, Penn Station, Grand Central took 'em all out.
What about a gym? A place to shower and change.
He didn't do either.
I doubt if he had a membership to the New York Health and Racquet Club.
How about the Y.
? They're, what, Sixth and Manhattan? Start with those.
You feeling lucky? Eh, I was the first three or four places.
Now I'm starting to feel like one of the Village People.
Next we should buy a lottery ticket.
You gotta have faith.
Yeah, especially if you're a Knicks fan.
Pocketknife, wallet.
No license.
Why am I not surprised? Family snaps, maybe.
Hey, I guess this is him.
He must have aged 30 years on the street.
"For Alan, Happy Birthday.
Hope you like this as much as I do.
Love, Gina.
" We don't know that book is his.
He could have picked it up somewhere.
Well, somebody had a doctor's appointment, two years ago last March.
I wonder if they kept it.
Two years I've been waiting for this knock on the door.
That looks nice, honey.
I just have to talk to these men for a minute.
How'd you find me? We talked to Alan's psychiatrist.
He told us that your brother was a schizophrenic.
It started manifesting his first year of college voices, hallucinations.
He had what they call "suicidal ideation.
" He talked about killing himself.
If he took his meds, he could function, but He stopped taking them? They made him numb.
Our father had stomach cancer.
We had to sit here and watch him die in stages.
Alan said he couldn't feel anything.
Said he wanted to be able to mourn Daddy's death, feel something when he said good-bye.
After the funeral, we all went home to sit shivah.
Alan never showed up.
Next day, I filed a Missing Persons report.
Nothing happened.
So I started looking for him myself.
Did you ever find him? I saw him once.
A few months ago Tompkins Square Park.
My little brother, looking like someone I would normally cross the street to avoid.
I couldn't get him to come home.
He was so far gone, I'm not even sure he recognized me.
His name is Alan Fisher.
You know him? What happened to him? He got hit by a car.
Well, why didn't you say so? I got my BMW parked right over here.
Man, that ain't funny.
He okay? He died.
I know this guy.
Got in my face a couple times at the mission.
- Got in your face? - Yelling about this and that.
Spitting and screaming.
Scary dude.
When was the last time you saw him? Hey, Beck, what's up? I don't know.
Couple weeks ago, maybe.
All right, thanks.
Hope that's good news.
It's Beck.
He's got a line on the car.
The paint's a shade of green.
Uh, Pentland Green, specifically.
But I couldn't match it to an assembly line model.
Must be a custom job.
How 'bout the glass? A garden-variety automotive, not unique to manufacturer.
Thanks for bringing us all the way down here.
It was a lovely trip.
Let me finish.
Now, the high-end automakers use lasers to microscopically etch the VIN number on the windshield.
How cool is that? Now this is just a partial, but it's enough for the D.
To I.
The car that it came from as an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish.
An Aston Martin who? Vanquish, man.
James Bond's car.
You know, in the last one, Die Another Day? Sorry.
I haven't seen a Bond movie since Sean Connery hung up his rug.
So ifJames Bond lived in New York and wanted to buy a Vanquish, where would he go? The V12 retails for 236,000 plus options.
More than my last house.
But that includes delivery to your door.
And you get to pick your color.
Just bring us a chip, and we'll match it.
So, it's a custom paint job.
No two alike.
It's a must buy.
You got an installment plan? My great-grandchildren can pay it off.
Yeah, that and the national debt.
At a price like that, you can't sell that many.
We're targeting a select clientele.
You wanna give me a number? Mm, this model year, roughly 50 in the tristate area, 10 or 12 in Manhattan.
I don't suppose one of them was in Pentland Green.
Quarter of a mil is a little extravagant, I know, but trust me, imagewise, it's a bargain.
And how much does image go for these days? My time goes out at 500 an hour.
Damn, you must be one hell of a publicist.
"Publicity" is just what's on the letterhead, but you know what I'm really selling.
Image? That's why you guys are the detectives.
Speaking of which I certainly haven't been in an accident.
Do you have any idea how much I pay for collision? Believe me, I get the teeniest little door ding, and I wear black for a week.
Well, I guess you won't mind us taking a look at your car.
Be my guest.
Parking level three.
Don't forget to lock it up.
Mama, I'm home.
Looks in pretty good shape.
Hurting a car this fine, that should be a felony.
Wanna take it for a spin? Yeah, I can just see the headline: "Cops Take $200,000 Joyride.
" I got a home address Bank Street.
That's not so far from where the body was dumped.
Well, it's not so close either.
There's not a scratch on this puppy.
So how many body shops do you think are authorized to repair this puppy? Actually, we're the only certified Aston Martin body shop in the entire Northeast.
And the only one with the Blackhawk Korek body alignment system.
Don't leave home without it.
Mock all you like.
Sure beats entrusting your most prized possession to a couple of neighborhood knuckleheads with a ball-peen hammer.
No question.
So this Blackhawk Korek gizmo did you use one on a Vanquish owned by a Carrie Salter? Carrie Salter? Sure.
Yeah, she hit a deer up in Connecticut.
We replaced the windshield, pounded out the hood, repainted the whole thing.
Oh, that's convenient.
Hey, it's open.
I'm going in.
Detective, was there something else? Well, there's a few "somethings" actually.
I thought we covered everything.
Well, why don't we talk about it down at the precinct? Hey, Lennie.
That ain't motor oil.
Well, well, well, a garage in mid-November.
It must be, what, about 45 degrees up in here? A natural refrigerator.
What the hell is going on? We'll talk about it downtown.
What about my car? I'm gonna call a tow truck.
They're gonna take it to Impound.
Impound? A tow truck? Oh, don't worry.
He slows down for deer.
I was turning onto my street.
Hey, don't I have the right not to worry about some drunken bum stumbling in front of my car? Scaring me half to death.
Oh, yeah, how dare they wander into your neighborhood.
It was an accident.
He just It was late, and he just he just stepped out right in front of me.
He just came out of nowhere, and I hit the brake, but he just flew into my windshield.
And he was just hanging there like half in and half out.
I just I panicked, so I I just turned the car into the garage.
And I don't suppose calling an ambulance for the poor bastard ever crossed your mind.
It wasn't like that.
Was he still alive when you pulled in? He was moaning and I just I went inside for a few minutes to calm down, because I was so scared.
And I just I sat there trying to figure out what to do.
And I could I could hear him calling for help.
You heard him calling for help.
When I went back to check on him Oh, God.
He was dead.
Carrie, stop talking right now.
Sanford Remz, Ms.
Salter's lawyer.
Oh, what a shame.
If you'd have come in 30 seconds earlier, you could have heard your client's confession.
Then I have my work cut out for me, don't I? In the meantime, I want Ms.
Salter processed through Central Booking immediately.
On the way, you don't say one word to her.
Don't even ask her what her favorite color is.
We already know Pentland Green.
It was dark.
It was late.
She was tired.
She didn't expect some deranged vagrant who, by the way, had a well-documented history of suicidal tendencies to jump out in front of her car.
And I'm sure the four apple martinis she drank that evening had no effect on her expectations.
Suspend her license.
She does some community service, and you get to go back to prosecuting real criminals.
Like people who commit vehicular homicide, tamper with evidence.
And let their fatally wounded victims die a slow death in the garage, while they sit in their living room and have another drink.
See, this is what I was afraid of.
You're twisting an unfortunate accident into an act of cold-blooded murder.
Leaving a man to suffer and die is cold-blooded, Sandy.
No question.
But did he suffer? I really don't know.
And neither do you, because there hasn't been an autopsy.
But let's rectify that, shall we? My motion to disinter Mr.
Fisher's corpse.
You want the body? Well, it'd certainly be difficult for my expert to conduct an independent autopsy without it.
This was a car accident, not a suspicious death.
Moreover, the family's Jewish.
They're observant.
They don't want an autopsy.
And when necessary, religious doctrine should be trumped by the law.
Bringing me to my next point.
There's no precedent allowing a defendant to conduct her own autopsy of the victim.
Maybe not, but there's no precedent prohibiting it either.
On the contrary, I submit an independent autopsy is perfectly acceptable pretrial discovery.
When the evidence is arguably relevant.
You seem to forget that your client confessed.
And you're looking to paint her as an uncaring, callous bitch, who allowed this poor soul to suffer.
Well, that sounds like a pretty accurate portrait to me.
Just what I'm talking about.
And to rebut this, I need the opportunity to conduct an independent autopsy.
You have the medical examiner's report.
And the medical examiner is employed by the city.
I'm sorry.
When I said "independent autopsy," was I being too oblique? Has your M.
Finished her examination? That's the point.
She's not my M.
But she's done with the body, right? Then I don't see the prejudice to the People by allowing the defendant access to the victim.
Defense motion granted.
You gotta admit it's a brand-new spin on the time-honored defense strategy of beating up on the victim.
Remz had a very compelling argument.
He's a good lawyer, Jack.
The best that money can buy.
Poor victim, rich defendant? Well, LadyJustice may be blind, but nobody ever said the old broad was fair.
When? Thanks.
Well, that expert must have found something, 'cause Remz is moving to dismiss.
Judge has scheduled an evidentiary hearing for 10:00 in the morning.
I began by pickling the deceased's brain in a formalin solution.
This was done to harden the brain, like boiling an egg, so it could be dissected.
And when you dissected it, what did you find? A subdural hematoma.
The decedent had bled into his brain from the sagital sinus.
What happens when one incurs a subdural hematoma? Blood slowly seeps into the brain, eventually killing the subject.
It can take hours, even days.
Often, the victim doesn't even know he's dying.
He wouldn't feel sick enough to get medical attention? He might feel woozy, sleepy, nauseous, unwell.
To a homeless person like Mr.
Fisher, who's probably already in poor health, possibly intoxicated, this would be a familiar feeling.
Fair enough.
But Mr.
Fisher was struck at 2:00 a.
And dead by 3:00.
Isn't it reasonable to assume, as the medical examiner has, that this accident caused Mr.
Fisher's hematoma? Reasonable, but in this case mistaken.
May I? Your Honor, if I may, defense exhibits "A" and "B.
" Given the size of the ruptured vessel, an hour between trauma and death would have produced bleeding in the brain of, at most, 10 c.
's of blood.
Approximately this much fluid.
However, I siphoned five times that amount from the decedent's brain.
Fifty c.
There's simply no way this much bleeding could have occurred in only an hour.
So, what you're saying is Ms.
Salter hit someone with her car who was already fatally injured.
But if the car crash didn't kill him, what did? Judging by the three contrecoup injuries he sustained to the back ofhis brain, he was beaten.
I want to see Rodgers in my office.
That doesn't sound very encouraging.
It's not meant to be.
Now I wish I'd insisted on an autopsy.
Sounds even less encouraging.
The family didn't want one.
And I wasn't about to waste the city's time and money on On a homeless person? On someone who obviously died from head trauma, which I assumed he sustained when he was struck by Carrie Salter's car.
So what's your expert opinion? I'm afraid I have to agree with Geller.
The car didn't kill him.
It doesn't matter.
Doctrine of intervening causation.
A man leaps off a building, gets hit by a bullet on the way down, it's homicide, not suicide.
Except in this case, it wasn't the bullet that killed him.
The car accident didn't cause the hematoma.
Hell, it didn't even exacerbate it.
Expert testimony is for a jury to evaluate.
Except I can't let it go to a jury on these facts.
Come on, Jack.
Give me something to work with.
The defendant left this man in her garage to die.
If she'd gotten him medical attention, the doctors might have detected the hematoma, stopped the bleeding, saved his life.
I count at least three "maybes"in there.
My client is prepared to plead out on tampering, obstruction, failing to report an accident the crime she actually committed.
What do you have in mind? First offense? I think probation's warranted.
Three years, plus community service.
Your Honor! I'm sympathetic, Ms.
Southerlyn, but as much as I'd like to, I can't order jail time.
The criminally negligent homicide charge is dismissed.
I'm accepting the defendant's pleas on obstruction and tampering.
Remz, have your client see Probation, then she's free to go.
Dead man walking.
Just when you thought you'd seen everything.
We still have a victim in search of a suspect.
Salter's expert give us anything new to go on? He said someone beat Fisher up about seven hours before Salter struck him with her car.
So, 2:00 a.
? Which would mean he took a beating around 7:00 the night before.
Well, beyond that, we still got a grand total of zero leads.
So, we start with square one.
Tompkins Square.
I already told you.
I didn't know him.
We're just trying to figure out who beat on this guy.
I thought you said he was hit by a car.
He did, but he got beat down first.
You ever see a boxing match? The dude takes one too many hits.
He walks out of the ring, and two days later he dies.
Is that what happened to him? Huh.
I'm sorry.
I don't know anything.
But I can make a guess.
See, all you had to do was concentrate.
Yeah, I seen, uh What'd you say his name was? Alan.
I seen this Alan guy bumming spare change outside a bodega on Avenue "A.
" And? Really pissed the owner off.
And how do you know that? 'Cause I saw the dude run him off with a baseball bat.
Threatened to bash his brains in.
Ever since this clinic opened, this block has been crawling with all "wackjobs.
" Well, we're interested in the "wackjob" that you threatened with a baseball bat skinny white kid.
Why? Did he complain? I never touched him, huh? Uh, just waved it around a little.
Told him to get lost.
Is it possible he didn't get the message and came back? I'll tell you what.
Just for fun, why don't you tell us where you spend your Thursday nights.
Thursday night? Right here.
All night, every night.
Ask anyone.
We will.
Meanwhile, just keep that baseball bat in the dugout.
Huh? All right, so I'm Alan Fisher schizophrenic, homeless, wandering the streets.
Persona non grata at the local bodega.
Where would I go? I might get a warmer reception at my friendly neighborhood clinic.
Alan was one of those guys loving family, plenty of money, smart, good education.
All the support in the world, how did he end up on the street? Schizophrenia does not discriminate.
Did he come here a lot? Yeah, time to time.
We worked like hell to get him back on his medication.
And when he did, he felt so much better, he'd think he didn't need them anymore.
See, that's the Catch-22 of modern meds.
They work so well, patients stop taking them.
On the night of November 13, was he here? Yeah.
Stopped in around 6:00, just as I was getting ready to leave.
Hit me up for a couple of bucks for food.
I did my usual song and dance.
Tried to get him back on his regimen.
Fat chance.
You know where he went after here? Yeah, Gerald came by.
They went off together.
Probably a liquor store.
And where can we find him? Gerald? He lives with a couple other homeless guys over in Stuyvesant Town, 15th and First.
Yeah, I know Fish.
That's what we call him Fish.
I do, anyway.
He got that fish-eye look.
Me? I got the 1,000-yard stare.
What you got? We got a dead friend of yours, Gerald.
Huh? Fish.
Fish died? Somebody killed him.
Killed him? Somebody killed Fish.
Yeah, and you were the last person seen with him.
Emmerich said he saw y'all leaving the clinic together.
Yeah, I remember that.
We bought us a Mickey, went to the park and passed it around.
Yeah, right after that, he got his head bashed in.
I know.
I saw it go down.
You saw what happened? Guy comes up to Fish.
They trade words.
Start wrestling around, arguing about something.
Next thing you know, they duking it out.
Guy gets Fish down.
He's bashing his head into the sidewalk.
You didn't try to stop it? Are you crazy? Besides, cops broke it up.
This other guy have a name? I'm sure his mama give him one, but I'd be damned if I know.
Another homeless guy, I've seen him around.
Big white guy.
When we got there, one guy had the other guy in a headlock.
Broke it up, asked who started it, they pointed fingers at each other.
And you didn't do anything? We got a call on a domestic.
Guy using his girlfriend for a punching bag.
What are we supposed to do? Tell 'em flag on the play while we process a couple of skells through the system? God forbid, the girl gets hurt.
We're dealing with these lice-heads.
Come on.
You know what it's like.
Taxpayers first.
So sue us.
And only taxpayers get a ride to the E.
? Those guys? Not in my car.
Never get the stink out.
They weren't hurt.
No harm, no foul.
Actually, one of them was.
He died later that night.
A tall white kid.
No kidding? What'd the other guy look like? None the worse for wear.
A description, genius.
Oh, six feet, 6'2'; uh, old raincoat, orange wool cap.
We didn't take any names.
Lucky for you, I think we've met the guy.
Now, just take your time, Gerald.
What ifhe gets off? You know, gets out? Comes after me.
Don't worry.
He can't see you.
That's one-way glass.
Come on, Gerald, focus.
That guy five.
Number five.
Uh, sorry, Max.
I got bad news and worse news.
A witness identifies you as the one who introduced Alan Fisher's face to the sidewalk.
And two cops picked you out as the one who'd been fighting with him.
Now, I know that math's probably not your strong suit, but even you can see how this adds up against you.
Only question is which story is the judge gonna hear, our version or yours? Now our version is that you attacked some poor defenseless kid, who was a little touched in the head.
Shut up! J- Just shut up! Let me think.
You don't get it.
You don't get it.
You just don't get it.
Why don't you explain it to us, Max? Tell us why you killed this kid.
I can't.
I can't explain it to you.
Why? Because you don't know what it's like out there.
All right? You don't get it.
You You think that you do, but you don't.
What I don't get is why you killed some poor guy who's just as down on his luck as you are.
He wasn't like me! He was a selfish bastard! He wouldn't share! He wouldn't share.
All I wanted was a piece, just one little piece.
And I asked him nice.
Piece of what, Max? An orange.
One little crappy orange.
You have to appreciate the irony.
One defendant hits a man with her car, while another defendant hits the same man with his fists.
Defendant Number One gets off with the help of a blue-chip mouthpiece, while Defendant Number Two Gets the assistance of the Director of the Urban Justice Center, which beats a funding-challenged public defender any day.
But it still begs the question how there can possibly be equal justice, when defendants aren't treated equally.
Carrie Salter didn't kill Alan Fisher.
Your client did.
Have you ever gone for months without a shower? Scrounged for dinner in a garbage can or begged for change on the street? Life on the street is tough.
So that gives your client the right to commit murder? No, his fundamental right to survive does.
Thankfully, the law says otherwise.
Oh, did they change it? I haven't been keeping up with my reading.
Is the necessity defense still on the books? Not when the necessity is an orange.
So you say.
Let's see what a judge says.
It's black letter law.
To make out a necessity defense, the defendant has to be able to show that the need outweighed the wrong.
Which it does if you're homeless, and you do whatever you have to do to survive in their world.
So it's survival of the fittest.
Go ahead, scoff.
It only illustrates how ignorant all of you are.
Fortunately, we have laws to prevent society from descending into Darwinian anarchy.
Except we've evicted the homeless from society.
We've made them outcasts.
We look at them as less than human.
We shun them from society, then turn around and hold them accountable to society's laws, not the laws they have to live by.
Your Honor.
Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes, Mr.
I don't see any problem with letting the jury take a little stroll.
She was basically arguing that as a matter oflaw, the homeless are less than human.
Fido takes a bite out ofJoe Citizen he gets put down.
Fido bites another dog that's just life in the urban jungle.
Well, let's face it.
We all say the right things, but at the end of the day, we see them as scary, smelly, subhuman people we'd rather not deal with.
That's exactly the guilt Gardner is leveraging.
Well, don't let her.
Plead this out.
When I've got a confession and two witnesses? And a defense attorney turning the courtroom into a soapbox.
For the money we'll end up spending on this trial, we'll be able to build our own soup kitchen.
But we won't, will we? Ms.
Gardner, where's your client? On his way, Your Honor.
Sidebar, Your Honor.
What is this? The defendant is dressed like A homeless person.
Imagine that.
His appearance violates basic standards of courtroom decorum.
Which aren't codified anywhere in the C.
The defendant can dress for court any way that he wants.
You mean, how his attorney wants.
This is a transparent ploy to get the jury to see him as homeless first and as a human being second.
Actually, it's about letting the jury see him as he truly is.
Either way, I'm not inclined to order a wardrobe change.
Now step back and let's get on with this.
You say the defendant was banging the victim's head against the sidewalk.
That's right.
Why didn't you arrest him? Wasn't clear who started it.
We just sent the parties on their way.
But I suppose, in hindsight, maybe we should have picked the defendant up.
What about medical attention? Why didn't you take Mr.
Fisher to the emergency room? I asked him ifhe wanted to go.
He said, "Hospitals are where they brainwash you.
" And besides, he looked okay.
Is that your usual practice no arrests, no trip to the hospital, so long as everyone looks okay? I don't have a usual practice.
It's case by case.
I use my judgment.
Then let's chat about your judgment.
The past year, you've handled domestic disturbances, bar fights, traffic disputes.
And in many cases, you've made arrests, and/or requested medical attention for the parties involved.
- If counsel could ask a question.
- My question: What made those cases different from this one? I'll give you a hint.
The parties weren't homeless.
I don't treat them any different.
Really? Because it seems the only time you do arrest a homeless man or woman is for vagrancy, public intoxication or when they bother a citizen.
But as long as they're just beating up on one another I didn't think an arrest was warranted in this case.
Didn't matter if they were homeless or not.
Is that what you call them? What else should I call them? It's just when you were speaking to Detectives Briscoe and Green, you used other terms.
That was just We use a lot of slang on the street.
It doesn't mean anything.
Then you won't mind telling us what those slang terms are.
One of them was "skells.
" What was the other? Lice-heads.
And to think you're a duly sworn representative of the law.
They were pushin'and shovin; First, Fish gave as good as he got.
But when he got him by the neck and threw him on the ground, it was game over.
Game over? Game over.
He was bashing his head into the sidewalk.
And Mr.
Fisher couldn't fight back? That guy was too big.
Which makes me wonder why he started yelling at Mr.
Edgars in the first place.
He couldn't help it.
It was the way his brain worked.
See, Fish would talk tough and such, but he wouldn't hurt nobody.
In your opinion, did Mr.
Fisher pose any type of threat to the defendant? Hardly.
Worse Fish could do to anybody was spit at 'em a little.
So if the fight was so one-sided, why didn't you try to stop it? Two guys in a beef? You don't get up in the middle of it.
You stand back and watch.
Just the way it is.
In your world.
Then let's talk a little bit about your world.
Have you ever been attacked on the street? When I was a newbie.
That's when you're new to the street.
Guys come by, beat me with a pipe.
Take my stuff.
And when did that stop? When I fought back.
See, when you hit back, they look for somebody else who won't.
You look nice today.
Do you dress like that on the street? No.
New coat, new tie.
Courtesy of Mr.
McCoy? Yeah.
Where'd you sleep last night? At the Clinton Hotel.
Where do you usually sleep? Heating vent.
Did you have a shower this morning? Yeah.
It felt good.
I bet.
Before that, when was the last time you had a shower? Don't remember.
Must be nice living in a hotel, not on the street.
It was heaven.
So when you're living on the street, not in a hotel, what do you do when you have to go to the bathroom? Wherever I can.
Sometimes behind a car, in a doorway, in the park.
Like a dog.
- Your Honor.
- Look behind you, Ms.
There's the line.
My apologies.
And I apologize to you, sir.
I'm sorry if I embarrassed you.
I ain't embarrassed.
Living on the street, I done a lot of things I never thought I'd do.
Why is this mess still on your docket? Because Gardner thinks she can get him off and wants to make a statement doing so.
And you don't think she has a point? That the homeless are animals and don't have to follow the same rules we do.
They don't live the same lives we live.
We've turned our backs on them.
I think that's overstating things a touch.
I mean, there are shelters and soup kitchens.
And all these so-called solutions just hide the problem instead of solving it.
Nobody wants a shelter in their neighborhood.
When's the last time you picked up a ladle at a soup kitchen? Every Thanksgiving, as a matter of fact.
One day a year.
You and all the other limousine liberals so you can look at yourself in the mirror.
The sad fact is a lot of these people aren't gonna get any better, no matter how much time and money we throw at the problem.
You might as well try sweeping sand off the beach.
Careful, Arthur.
You'll make Gardner's case for her.
She shouldn't have a case at all.
Make a deal.
Perhaps you haven't been paying attention, but this case isn'tjust about Max Edgars.
It's about every homeless man, woman and child in this city.
Depicting your client as an animal? Locked in a savage dog-eat-dog daily struggle for existence? This is how you advocate for the homeless? I never once said homeless people were animals.
I said society treats them like animals, forces them to live like animals.
They still have choice, free will.
Oh, do they? After we cast them into the outer darkness.
Relegate them to a world that's more Lord of the Flies than the civilized one we live in.
Believe me.
I'm not denying any of man's darker instincts, which is why We have laws.
I know.
Brings us right back to where we started, doesn't it? The homeless, shunned from the very society that makes those laws.
People need to realize we are all just two steps away from becoming Max Edgars.
I used to work construction.
High steel.
I got hurt on the job, and I blew through all my savings.
And by the time I was back on my feet again, I was broke, behind on the mortgage.
And eventually I lost my house, my family.
Then where did you live? For a little while, in my car.
But then I sold it, to eat.
Then I started living in doorways.
Vestibules were the best.
Then the mayor started cracking down.
So where did you go? For a few months, I lived in this empty subway tunnel.
There were a lot of other homeless there.
And rats.
If you didn't wear gloves, they would nibble on your fingers while you slept.
Sounds awful.
You got all these people living in their own filth.
You You go in there, the stench would knock you back, like three feet.
And you couldn't go to a shelter.
They're not safe.
A lot of people, crazies and junkies, looking to steal your stuff, or do worse.
Did that happen to you people steal your things? Yeah.
I've been mugged.
I lost count how many times.
One time, these these two guys rolled me for my shoes and and gave me smileys all over my body.
Th-That's when they hit you with a chain and a padlock, and the lock leaves a bruise like a smiley face.
I want to turn your attention to the night of your altercation with Mr.
He was crazy.
I just asked for a piece of his orange, and he just started screaming at me.
And I told him to back off.
And he pushed me.
And And kept putting his hands on me.
He was a lunatic.
So why didn't you just walk away? I couldn't.
Word got out that I'd backed off, I would be fair game.
Fair game for who? Anybody.
That's how it works.
If you're vulnerable, if you're weak, you're a target.
And I wasn't gonna be a target ever again.
So, you admit assaulting another man, because he refused to share his orange.
It's not that simple.
The law of the jungle.
That's right.
And your lawyer suggested that you live like an animal in thatjungle.
Yeah, well, maybe she's right.
Then what are we doing here? We don't put animals on trial, Mr.
We put them down.
Put me down.
You'll be doing me a favor.
Tired of living in the street, are you? You think I chose this for my life? I think you have more choices than Alan Fisher did, don't you? He was held hostage to his own delusions.
But you could control yourself.
You could have looked for a job.
I had a job.
I told you.
And a house.
And a car.
That's right.
Friends, family, possessions.
And I lost them! I lost it all! You don't know what that feels like, to be a failure.
To go to bed on a piece of wet cardboard every friggin'night, wondering, "How did this happen to me?" I didn't want this.
I didn't choose this life.
This is something that happened to me.
And it's like this thing in my chest that's killing me.
It gets me right here.
Sounds human to me, Mr.
Most of us woke up this morning, punched the snooze button of our clock radios, before eventually willing ourselves out of our nice warm beds and stumbling into the kitchen for an English muffin and a hot cup of coffee.
But others, people who most of us will never know, woke up in a subway tunnel, surrounded by rats and human excrement.
We all pay lip service.
We all say the right things about the homeless, as long as we don't have to get too close to them.
We blame them for their own misfortune and say we cannot understand why they live the way they do.
We can't comprehend their existence.
We can't possibly ever know the fear and desperation that drove Max Edgars to kill Alan Fisher that night.
We can't.
So we should all go home tonight, crawl back into our nice warm beds and thank our lucky stars we don't have to.
The law exists to protect, as well as to punish.
So, if you say that society's laws don't apply to defendants like Max Edgars, you're also saying that society's justice doesn't apply to victims like Alan Fisher.
If that's your verdict, then society truly has turned its back on these people.
They have no food.
No shelter.
No money.
Don't deny them justice as well.
Jury foreman, have you reached a verdict? We have, Your Honor.
On the sole count of the indictment, manslaughter in the first degree, we find the defendant guilty.
Twelve years in Ossining.
At least he'll have plenty of food and shelter.
Careful, Jack.
That almost sounded like sympathy.
Don't get me wrong.
He killed a man for an orange.
He deserves to be in prison.
But? We just moved him from one jungle to another.