Episode 1.02 : In Re: Officer Daniel Hale

  • Outlaw
    • Episode Premiere : September 24, 2010
    • Distributor : NBC
    • Genre : Drama
    • Seasons : 1
    • Show Period : 2010 - 2010
    • Production Company: Universal Media Studios
    • Official Site : http://www.nbc.com/outlaw/

Cast and Crew

The Story

Garza's living the good life in Las Vegas, sipping champagne in a hot tub with a beautiful woman, when Al calls. Didn't they agree to both work this weekend? Claiming he's about to walk into a meeting, Garza hangs up, but Al's wise to his tricks. Garza gets back to the matter at hand when a TV news report rivets his attention. Arizona's new controversial illegal immigrant law has finally resulted in tragedy. White police officer James Hale stopped Hispanic James Reyes on the street to check his status, then shot him three times. Although the State of Arizona officially declined to charge Hale, citizens are outraged.

Back in D.C., Mereta, Lucinda and Eddie are watching the growing protests in Arizona on TV when Garza calls to order them onto the next flight to Tucson. Figuring Garza intends to defend Reyes, Eddie runs off to gather research on wrongful injury. On the ground in Arizona, Mereta scrambles to get Garza checked into the Governor's Suite, so the team has a place to work. Lucinda suggests Mereta keep a copy of his key so she can surprise Garza one night. Al and Eddie set up to meet with the Reyes family, but when Garza finally appears, he drops a bomb: They're not representing Reyes, but fighting on behalf of Officer Hale instead.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Ruckeyser holds a press conference to announce she's filing federal charges against Hale for violating Reyes' civil rights under Color of Law. Meanwhile, Garza and his team meet with an angry Hale and his wife Amy. Hale claims he was only doing his job, and he shot Reyes because he reasonably feared for his life. The incident took place two miles from the Mexican border at night. Reyes was standing alone, looking nervous. When Hale asked for his ID, Reyes got mad. Al pulls Garza outside to argue against taking the case, since Arizona's law gives white cops permission to racially profile Hispanics. As the highest-profile Latino jurist in America, Garza shouldn't defend either Hale's actions or the law. Garza takes the case.

When the meeting's over, Al and Garza argue. Al insists that Garza promised not to take any cases without consulting him, so Garza insists he did consult. Besides, he spent his whole life supporting state's rights from the bench - how can the Feds just waltz into Arizona and dictate which of their laws are acceptable!? No matter what, Hale deserves a fair trial. Al grumbles, but agrees to work with Mereta to profile neighborhoods for prospective pro-cop jurors, while Eddie and Lucinda head to the hospital to confirm Reyes' injuries. Garza asks Al to accompany him on a mission to determine how tough Ruckeyser has been ordered to get.

At the hospital, Eddie meets with Dr. Engler, who's been documenting Reyes' injuries for the prosecution. Engler has photos which show that not only was Reyes shot three times, but an entrance wound suggests that the first bullet hit him in the back. Lucinda recognizes a crying woman in the hallway as Reyes' wife Melinda, so she offers a sympathetic ear. Melinda reveals that her husband has a volatile temper, and was almost arrested for assault last year. Meanwhile, Ruckeyser tells Garza that the White House has cleared her to do whatever it takes to win the case, since they hate Arizona's law. She insists Hale is racist, which Garza will hear for himself when he receives their tape recording tomorrow. When Ruckeyser huffs off, Garza orders Al to get the team together. They need to file a motion to suppress that tape!

The next morning, the angry mob in front of the courthouse is restless as the proceedings get underway. Hale can't believe the prosecution bugged his squad car, but can't remember if he said anything that could be construed as racist. FBI Agent Crane explains the context of the recording to Judge Crane before the tape is played. When Hale says on tape, "To hell with 'em! I hate these people. They should all get what they deserve," Garza swings into action, trying to explain that Hale was responding to a newspaper article calling him racist. Hale was talking about the reporters. Besides, how did Ruckeyser get a warrant to record Hale - what happened to reasonable expectation of privacy? Ruckeyser gets nasty and bickering ensues, so Crane calls both lawyers into his chambers.

Ordering Garza and Ruckeyser to stop fighting, Crane mumbles that they're almost as bad as his wife, who's the "bickering grand champion." Ruckeyeser insists the tape's admissible, and Crane backs her up, stating that the squad car was provided by the government for performing official duties, and Hale made his comments in the course of official duties. Garza whips a mini tape recorder out of his pocket and offers to share Crane's comments with his wife - it's not like he needs a warrant - they're in the course of official duties. Just as Crane has the reasonable expectation that what happens in his chambers stays in his chambers, so did Hale in his squad car, and there's federal case law to support both. Admitting that he has to consider the full context, Crane rules - the tape is out.

Afterwards, Garza sets Eddie, Lucinda and Mereta to researching what Reyes might have been doing on Brewer Street on the night in question. Before heading out to dinner with Al, Garza asks the concierge to find him underground card games to attend later that night. Garza's surprised when Al drags him to the Mexican border fence for a dinner of sandwiches and beer, to illustrate the point that Garza's arguing the wrong side. Al's just questioning their partnership when a white cop shows up. Once he spies the beers, he demands to see ID. Garza remains calm, but Al immediately gets worked up, accusing the cop of racism. Once the cop recognizes Garza as the lawyer who's defending one of the PD's own, he thanks him and leaves. Unable to believe this experience hasn't upset Garza, Al promises to finish out the case. When it's over, he's done.

The next morning, Mereta browses nervously in the hotel gift shop while trying to track down Garza, who's MIA, an hour before they have to pick the jury. When Mereta holds up sexy lingerie, a clerk tells her it's the perfect outfit to use for surprising that special someone. Mortified to spy Garza checking out the shop window, Mereta ducks. At court, Garza totally disregards Al and Mereta's jury research. Everyone including Judge Crane is shocked as Garza methodically turns down potential jurors with the right profile and approves Hispanics. Afterwards, Crane calls him to the bench to remind Garza that he's supposed to pick jurors who will support his client. Garza insists it'll be fine, but Crane orders him to spend a few minutes with Al before he blows a gasket.

In the hallway, Al lays into Garza. Is his strategy losing the case? Despite their agreement that the best jurors would be white males, Garza has picked more than half Hispanics. Garza clarifies: Al and Mereta agreed on a strategy, but he didn't. How's it going to look if the Hispanic lawyer defending a guy accused of being anti-Hispanic appears to be anti-Hispanic himself? Al can't understand how they can possibly promote racial profiling. Garza insists he can make the jury be fair; they won't convict Hale if they think he's innocent. Back in the courtroom, Ruckeyser drops a bomb, filing a motion to allow Reyes, her first witness, to testify from his hospital room. Despite Garza's best objections, Crane grants the motion.

The next morning everyone gathers in Reyes' hospital room. He testifies that he was looking to expand his construction business, and was on the street waiting for a realtor to show him an empty warehouse. Reyes repeatedly accuses Hale of racism, claiming that Hale attacked him with his baton - that's when he knew he had to defend himself and lunged for Hale's gun. On cross-examination, Garza wonders how a good officer with 10 years of training just loses it. Wasn't Reyes the one to lose it, turning a routine stop into a fight? When Garza brings up Reyes' recent brush with assault charges, Ruckeyser objects, but Crane overrules. Garza concludes by pointing out the resentment in Reyes' eyes - he would hit Garza right now if he could.

Back in the courtroom, Dr. Engler takes the stand to testify that Hale's first shot hit Reyes in the back, which spun him around, whereupon he was shot twice more in the chest. Once Garza establishes that Engler isn't trained in forensic medicine, he goes about creating doubt that the entrance wound in Reyes' back, aka an abrasion ring, might in fact be a shored exit wound, which would have occurred if the victim was lying on the ground. When Engler claims there's no indication that Reyes was shot on the ground, Garza closes in. Hale's on trial for his life, and Engler's simply taking Reyes' word about what happened!? Although Ruckeyser objects on grounds that it's all speculation, Garza succeeds in planting doubt in Crane's mind and prevails.

After a long day in court, Eddie, Lucinda and Garza relax in the hotel bar. Lucinda hints that Al and Garza are like two parents in a loveless marriage, keeping their fighting from the kids. Garza claims they're fine, but if divorce is on the horizon, he's giving custody of the kids to Al. When Garza takes off, Lucinda offers to play Eddie's wingman and hook him up with one of the lovely ladies at the bar. She's surprised when the girl Eddie finally chooses (after much goading) looks exactly like Mereta. When Lucinda makes a snide comment, Eddie maintains that there's nothing wrong with liking a woman who wears a dress, wink, wink.

In his room, Garza receives a call from the concierge, who's slipped a list of underground gambling clubs under his door. When Garza spots an address on Brewer Street, near where the Hale-Reyes incident took place, he makes a beeline for Anatol Kaminov's gambling club. Kaminov has champagne ready as Garza's reputation would appear to precede him. But Garza didn't come to play for once; he knows Kaminov must be protecting his unmarked location with surveillance cameras, which should have captured exactly what happened between Hale and Reyes. Garza offers to pay for the tapes, but the Russian refuses. Playing hardball, Garza claims that sooner or later, Kaminov will be exposed, and when that happens, having a former Supreme Court justice on speed dial could come in real handy. Kaminov toasts to their new deal.

The next morning before court, Ruckeyser fights to block the admittance of Garza's video into evidence. Refusing to reveal his source, Garza stands amazed: how can she be so disappointed by the truth? Ruckeyser shrugs. Her case won't change. Hale racially profiled Reyes and shot him, and that's still a civil rights violation. Later, Hale testifies, narrating the video from the stand. Reyes appears cagey. As soon as Hale asks for his ID, he attacks. When Garza asks why Hale didn't just let Reyes walk away, he explains - that's not in his job description. Fearing for his life, Hale reached for his gun, and the next thing he knew Reyes was fighting him for it. People don't know what it's like to devote their life to upholding the law and be called a racist for it. On cross, Ruckeyser simply asks if Hale would have stopped Reyes if he were white. His answer is a truthful no.

In her closing statement, Ruckeyser reminds the jury that Reyes has the right to stand on Brewer Street at night without fear of harassment. The brutal truth is that Officer Hale racially profiled James Reyes and shot him three times. Arizona's new law is a green light for racist cops. That's why the Justice Department is going to do whatever it takes to send a message to Arizona. Garza uses Ruckeyser's words as a point of departure: in America, citizens don't send their fellow citizens to jail to make a political point. Garza took Hale's case to make sure that he wasn't sacrificed for the sake of political messaging. Even if Arizona's law is a bad law, it's a law, and the place to fight it is in the voting booth. The Feds want to crush Hale, who clearly acted out of common sense and duty, not racism. And everyone knows what it's like to be an underdog...

The jury comes back with a verdict of not guilty for Hale, and Judge Crane declares him free to go. Back in D.C., Al stops by Garza's place to clear out his things and offer congratulations on the win. Garza finally explains his actions on the case. He spent his entire career on the bench looking at the big picture, and screwed a lot of people. He has to live with the ramifications of his actions, but now he's done with the big picture. It's time to defend the little guy who's doing the right thing. It's no small thing to ask Al to help, but if he can, they'll do great things together.






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