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Harry's Law

Episode 2.04 : Queen of Snark

Harry's Law Poster

TV Info


Episode Premiere

October 12, 2011

Distributor

NBC

Genre

Drama

Show Period

2011 - 2012

Production Company

Bonanza Productions Inc., Warner Bros. Television

Cast and Crew


Director

Paul McCrane

Screenwriter

David E. Kelley

Main Cast


Additional Cast

Synopsis


Former assistant district attorney Josh "Puck" Peyton arrives at Harry's office with some clients in tow: Paul and Marci Vinson and their daughter Sela. Puck's got a competing case, so he asks Harry to represent them. Sela's being charged with negligent homicide in the death of a classmate. The girl committed suicide after Sela outed her as a lesbian on her blog.

An irate father is in Tommy's office, loudly taking him to task. It turns out that Tommy represented his son when he was dying of leukemia. Tommy sued, unsuccessfully, to get a drug company to provide an experimental drug treatment. Tommy took no fees or retainer to represent the man; his remuneration would come in the form of being named as beneficiary of his life insurance policy. The father wants the settlement, but Tommy quickly dismisses him from his office.

Adam bumps into the bereft father and they talk. After hearing the story, Adam agrees to represent him in a lawsuit against Tommy. Adam tells Tommy: either you turn over the life insurance settlement to my client, or I will get the court to order you to.

Jenna speaks with Harry privately. She's been given a job offer from Christian Louboutin, a high-end shoe designer. Harry's not happy and threatens to sue Jenna if she leaves. It's a calling, she tells Harry. Harry can't believe it. Meanwhile, Cassie senses that Ollie has his eye out for her and launches a preemptive I'm-not-going-to-date-you strike.

Harry adds Ollie to the defense team. They meet with Sela to explain that it's a serious charge. They need her to testify; the stakes will be high. It finally starts to sink in with the teen defendant: if she's found guilty, she'll head to prison.

Harry meets with Assistant District Attorney Kim Mendelsohn outside of arraignment court. Harry's hoping for a reduction in the charge, but the ADA explains there's a bullying problem and a gay-bashing problem in Ohio. Negligent homicide is the best she can offer.

Harry rallies the firm; they'll need lots of research. Cassie hurries in and turns on the TV: Nancy Grace is discussing the case - and the TV pundit does not have pleasant things to say about Sela or Harry. Cassie suggests they file a restraining order to keep Grace and the news media from poisoning the potential jury pool. Ollie counters that it's free speech, and they'll never get prior restraint on news broadcasts.

Sabrina Wells takes the stand, testifying about her daughter's private life. They had assumed her daughter was heterosexual, she says, but discovered a diary to the contrary after she killed herself. She describes finding her daughter slumped over in a car in the garage, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Her daughter had copies of Sela's blog entries printed beside her, she testifies.

Harry cross-examines, asking Hannah's mom if her daughter ever shared her troubles with someone else, such as a therapist or clergyman. No, the mom says, before admitting that, in hindsight, there were signs she should have caught, but didn't. "I'd imagine if her own mother couldn't foresee something like this... nobody could have," Harry tells the courtroom.

Adam and Tommy head to court over assigning the insurance policy in lieu of payment. Tommy explains that it's quite common for insurance settlements to be assigned for all sorts of debts. The judge counters that in this case, Tommy was actually incentivized to have his client die sooner rather that later, since it would hasten the receipt of the policy payout. Still, the judge admits, there's nothing illegal about the contract that Tommy and the deceased entered into. The case is dismissed.

Jennie, Hannah's best friend at school, takes the stand. She testifies about what Sela wrote. One of the final entries before her friend took her life was a call by Sela to the student body in general to "help Hannah come out" by giving her a knowing nod. All the kids started doing it, Jennie testifies, pushing her to her limits. She goes on to explain that Sela's blog spared almost no one: teachers, administrators and lots of students. "It's the only way she could get attention," Jennie tells the court.

Adam meets Tommy in his office. He praises his colleague and then appeals to him to give his client (the deceased man's father) the life insurance settlement. "You don't need it," Adam tells Harry, "and my client does." Adam goes on to tell Tommy of the value of compassion and charity. Tommy listens dutifully, then gives Adam a lesson: always get your fee, no matter what. Never waver. He hands Adam an invoice for the legal advice he's just dispensed.

Sela takes the stand and explains the genesis of her blog. It was a way to get back at those who had disparaged her and as a way to become popular, she testifies. Her intent in writing about Hannah wasn't to gay bash her, she declares. She wrote about Hannah's closeted homosexuality because she thought Hannah, by remaining underground, wasn't supporting gay rights. "I thought she was tough," Sela says. "If I could take it all back I would. I am so, so sorry," she tells Hannah's parents before breaking down in tears.

ADA Mendelsohn cross-examines Sela, asking her to read from her blog. The defendant repeats what she's written, complete with slurs and snarky comments. Sela breaks down again. "I'm sorry Sela, I know this is a really tough day for you," the ADA says before pointing out the dead girl's parents. "Imagine the day they had."

Jenna wants to meet with Harry again. Harry cuts her off, saying that of course she can leave, that if the new job is really calling her, she should leave. Jenna's touched. Moments later, Harry drops a bomb on Adam and Cassie: Oliver is coming onboard as a partner. Adam's livid and storms off. Cassie finds Adam in his office and explains that Ollie is a major litigator, a rainmaker who could put the firm on the map. Adam shakes his head. We'll handle him together, Cassie reassures Adam.

Assistant District Attorney Mendelsohn gives her closing arguments. She points out that abuse of gay and lesbian students is epidemic in Ohio. One in four is physically assaulted, while fully 70 percent report being sexually harassed. The defendant was unrelentingly mean, the prosecutor tells the jury. It was completely foreseeable that the sort of bullying Sela engaged in might have caused Hannah's suicide. She tells the jury they must act on behalf of society. "You either accept it or you don't," she exhorts them.

Harry closes next. Yes, the defendant probably had something to do with Hannah's suicide - but this is not a case of homicide, she lectures the jury. Harry characterizes society as one where meanness in the media is rewarded. Successful blogs, cable TV shows, Glenn Beck, Keith Olberman, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and countless others don't just get away with snarkiness and cruelty - they're celebrated for it, she tells them.

Our whole society is uncomfortable with homosexuality, Harry explains to the jury. She cites examples: Don't Ask Don't Tell, the lack of anti-discrimination laws for gays in the workplace. Don't lay it all at Sela's doorstep, she says. "This was a suicide, not a homicide," Harry declares. She was raised in an atmosphere of mistrust and disgust, and she had no one to turn to - not even her best friend. Her suicide was not Sela's doing, she continues. It was society's deep-seated problem with homosexuality that caused her death.

Back at the office, Tommy teases Adam that he's giving the settlement to his client after all. But he's not. Adam, already floored by the news of Ollie being made partner, pleads with Harry. He's afraid the firm has lost the small shop touch he loved so much. What's worse, he continues, he hardly ever gets to work with her anymore. Harry pulls a chair up close to Adam and reveals that the night before they moved the firm into the new offices, she was taken to the hospital with chest pain. The stress of a real law firm is taking its toll. At age 62, Harry tells him, she's a little past her playing prime. Having Ollie onboard will help when she's unable to go on. Adam wants to be made a partner. Someday, Harry tells him, but not now.

The jury reads its verdict: not guilty. Back in the office, the mood is triumphant but not especially celebratory. When Jenna comes in to say goodbye, it's an emotional tidal wave. As she gives her parting advice to each member of the team, it's obvious she won't be back. Harry, who "doesn't do goodbyes," pulls a wrapped frame out of a drawer and hands it to Jenna. It's a photo of their original storefront. "You should have a memento of what you built," Harry tells her. With everyone in tears, Jenna boards the elevator for the last time.

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