More than the change of season arrives with the end of summer and the coming of fall. With the coming of the beautiful colors of fall foliage comes the premieres of returning favorites and new TV shows. Law and Order Los Angeles is one of the new one I am following. Welcome to the fall and my new series, the 13th Juror
You are being called to performed citizen duty as the 13th juror in a case of domestic violence leading to murder of the perpetrator by the victim. How would you vote guilty or not guilty?
The second episode of Law and Order Los Angeles aired last night with Terrence Howard making his debut. I must admit that I thought the show was weak and slow. I have discovered as I have matured that first impressions are just that, first impressions.
I later discovered that I found myself thinking about the episode further after it went off. I am still thinking about it this morning. I realized it was classic Law and Order putting real issues on the visual table for viewers to feel the experience.
The scenario focused on two women. The first is a woman in her 50’s or 60’s sitting on a beach drinking. Beach police approached her to inform her that drinking on the beach was illegal.
He requires the woman’s I.D. and learns she is on parole after 30 years in prison for a Charles Mansion like crime. He speaks to her in a tone that says he realizes who she is and lets her know better people than her come to this beach.
She is later found on the beach with 14 stab wounds. She dies and nobody cares, except LAPD’s Criminal Justice Division of homicide and the courts. They have a murder to solve and prosecute.
The primary suspect in the murder is a woman who has been wrongfully convicted of the death of her two children. Her children had died in a fire she was convicted of setting.
As a result of the wrongful conviction, she became the cell mate of the woman involved in the Charles Manson like killings. For three years, the woman wrongfully convicted of killing her children is brutally raped, burned, and beaten. She will later be released because her case has been overturned as result of sexual misconduct of the judge and the prosecutor and coercion of confession by investigating police officer Ryan, now retired to raise her family.
Terrence Howard as Prosecutor knows she has not killed her children. The courts have acknowledged the same by her early release but have not made the information of court wrongdoing to the public. She still lives with all that know her and of her as a murderer of her children. She wants that information communicated to the public to clear her name.
Terrence Howard must prosecute her for murder. It is clear she has killed her former cell mate as an act of pent up anger, revenge, and disappointment. She should never have been charged or convicted of a crime she did not commit. That miscarriage of justice put her in place to be harmed violently for years.
Officer Ryan is called to give testimony for the defense to speak to how she may have coerced the confession in the case of the fire resulting in the death of the two children. When she is ordered to take the stand for the defense, Terrence Howard immediately needs to prevent her testimony from affecting his case. He asks for a sidebar to present his concern. His sidebar is unsuccessful. Then he goes against the order of the chief prosecutor and acknowledges the miscarriage of justice by announcement in public to keep former Officer Ryan from testifying.
He goes on to say to the woman on trial for murder that he knows she loves her children. He knows that she misses them and that she would want to set a good example for them by telling the truth. She confesses the murder as a result of her pain, her fear, and that the woman she killed needed to pay. Someone needed to pay for what had happened to her.
Clearly acknowledging she had done nothing wrong for which she had been wrongfully imprisoned, her own testimony will lead to a certain conviction. The prosecution had sought twelve years. A deal is cut to affirm the six years she has already served. Terrence Howard expresses deep sorrow and regret for what has happened to her
If you were the 13th juror in this case with the power to set her free or convict, how would you have voted? Think about how easy it would be for you to fall into circumstances like this beyond your control to be convicted of a crime you did not commit. Does it matter? This slope is slippery. You decide. You are the 13th Juror.