Ollie and Harry meet with Assistant District Attorney Ben Fraser. They're trying to get their clients, Blake and Julie Cassidy, a favorable deal after the wife has been charged with voluntary manslaughter. They've been accused of killing their anencephalic newborn baby. The ADA is offering seven years, but Harry and Ollie want three years and treatment. There's no deal.
The Cassidys come to the office where Harry, Cassie and Ollie try to convince them to take the D.A.'s deal; they're adamant that Julie did not kill the baby. Cassie offers a dispassionate view. When the nurse passed the child to Julie he was alive - and when she returned, the child had died of a broken neck. There's no evidence of a natural death, she says. The legal team suspects this was a mercy killing due to the child's anencephaly. But the parents continue to deny it.
It's Harry's birthday. Adam's ordered a cake from a nearby bakery offering an irresistible promotion: free delivery from a clown. The clown arrives all smiles - a perfect contrast to Harry's dour look. As the clown runs through his tricks, he suffers a mental lapse and is unable to continue. Adam asks if he's all right. Not really, the clown says, before walking out.
Harry and her team, along with the Cassidys, arrive at the courtroom. Ollie pulls Blake aside and, under direction from Harry, prevents him from seeing his wife. Harry needs to talk to her alone. In no uncertain terms, she explains to Julie that they have a shot at a decent plea bargain - but only if Julie will admit to what she's done. She seems like she's ready to, but then her husband comes in. Harry lays it out there: she thinks Julie's afraid to admit what happened because she's afraid of her husband. Blake sits next to his wife and holds her hand: I'll forgive you and God will forgive you if you did this, he tells her. She continues to deny that she killed her child.
The trial begins. Natal intensive care nurse Eileen O'Malley testifies that the baby, other than his anencephaly, was healthy when she and the doctor handed him to Julie. She returned about 10 minutes later and found Julie holding the baby, who was then turning blue. She knew the baby was dead. Harry cross-examines and asks the nurse about the baby's birth condition. The nurse describes anencephaly: the baby had no cognitive or emotional functions; he couldn't swallow, blink or cry. All his movements were involuntary. Harry asks the nurse if she's heard of doctor's suffocating such babies intentionally - and goes on to ask the nurse if she suspects that Julie performed a mercy killing. The nurse has no response. Harry asks if the baby's death was a tragedy. Probably not, the nurse says.
Back at the office, Ollie and Cassie are upset with Harry. They thought the plan was to introduce doubt - that the baby's death was an accident, not a mercy killing. Harry lets them know that they need to establish in the jury's minds that the death was not a tragedy.Harry and Ollie are concerned about the clown; they pay him a visit at his apartment. It turns out the clown is an Afghanistan war vet named Dave. His convoy was blown up by an IED, and he was slammed against the wall of his Humvee. Since then, he's lost his ability to focus. He's upset because his wounds apparently didn't merit the Purple Heart. But after he returned stateside, he researched his case and realizes that he should have received the Purple Heart after all. His concussion injury was the result of an enemy explosion. He applied for reconsideration but was turned down. He's very upset. He wants to know that his service counted - and that his country is proud of him. Harry tells Adam that they need to get Dave his Purple Heart.
In court, the D.A. calls the doctor who performed the autopsy on the child. He testifies that the baby's neck was twisted, causing death almost instantaneously. He doesn't believe it could have been an accident. Harry cross-examines and asks him if he's ever been wrong. Yes, the doctor replies. She goes on to say that she could bring six pathologists into court who could dispute his testimony. The D.A. dares her to call even one of them. Harry's embarrassed; her bluff's been called.
In her office, Harry explains to Julie that she's going to put her on the stand. She goes on to explain that their defense will be that either it was accident or that Julie was in a dissociative state, i.e. that she wasn't herself when she killed her baby. But Julie insists she didn't kill the boy. Harry tells her: you'll need to let me argue it anyway. She instructs Julie to just tell the truth as she knows it.
Tommy tells Adam that they need to get Dave the Clown his Purple Heart. Adam's skeptical: he knows how tough it can be to re-open a medal case. And he's concerned that Dave has no money. Tommy invokes the spirit of Christmas and says they'll do it pro bono, for free.Julie takes the stand and recounts the story of her pregnancy and the birth of her son. Harry asks her about the night of the death. Julie says she may have fallen asleep while holding her child, but she definitely did not twist his neck. Harry brings up that the witness who found Julie holding her dead child said she was emotionless. "I didn't know what to think or feel," Julie says. "I grieved for him," she says. "But I deny that his death was anything but a blessing or that I had anything to do with it."
Adam, Tommy and Chunhua work hard on slogging through the bureaucratic red tape it'll take to get Dave his medal. Chunhua does some research and turns up a fact that an officer can help expedite re-review of a medal case. Tommy seeks out the wife of Dave's captain.D.A. Fraser cross-examines Julie. He points out that had the boy lived, Julie's life would have been very difficult. Her insurance would not have covered the necessary skilled medical care; she would have had to care for him 24/7. All of which could be fixed with one simple twist of the neck, he tells the jury. He brings up a conversation that Julie had with the doctor not long after her baby was born - an inquiry about euthanasia. Julie explains that she was emotionally wrought over the suffering of her baby. The D.A. makes the case that this was about mercy. But Julie again denies that she killed her son.
Ollie, Cassie and Harry fall back to the office to strategize. They decide their best hope is to get Julie to take a plea deal for three years; the alternative will have her locked up for 20 if she loses, Harry tells Julie and Blake. Blake thinks the plea is probably the right tack, but Julie insists that she'll never be able to admit guilt - a critical element for the judge to accept the plea. Conferring again with her staff, Harry plans to call the nurse back to the stand. Cassie says maybe Julie had no intent to kill the child, and they're missing the obvious: maybe she's innocent.
Tommy tracks down the wife of Dave's former captain; she is able to connect to him overseas via video chat. Tommy quickly jumps on and explains the situation about Dave. The captain remembers Dave and his case - and realizes he made a mistake. "Send me the paperwork, and I'll correct it," he tells an ebullient Tommy, Dave and Adam. But the captain warns them that he'll need to fill out the requisite forms and that correcting things could still take quite a while; it'll need to go up the chain of command and through all proper channels.Adam gets an audience with Senator Michael Barnes. He explains the circumstances of Dave's case to him: that the captain has changed his recommendation to favor awarding the medal and that the only holdup now is a form. The senator vows to get it corrected right away.
Back in court, Harry asks the attending nurse about the conversation Julie had with her about arranging a morphine drip. The nurse didn't find it unusual, given the grieving mother's circumstances. The morphine drip is technically a form of pain management, but technically, at a high enough dose, it stops a person's breathing. The drip isn't used with anencephalic babies because they're not suffering, she testifies. Harry asks how is it that many of these babies come to die. The nurse answers: they die of starvation after their nutrition and liquids are cut off. Harry is appalled. The nurse admits that snapping a baby's neck would be more humane. When Harry posits that only a medical professional would know how to do that efficiently, the courtroom grows quiet. Harry asks the nurse point-blank if she killed the baby; the nurse pauses and finally asks to speak to an attorney. The courtroom gasps. As the courtroom erupts, Harry, her team and her clients hightail for the elevator. Harry apologizes to Julie. They're all emotional.
Adam delivers the good news to Tommy and Dave: the medal will be awarded in five to six months. Tommy tells Dave a story about his own father being wounded in battle and never receiving his Purple Heart before he died. He wants Dave to have it - and pins it to his chest.