'The Good Wife': Good Law? - Season 5, Episode 15
This week's episode of "The Good Wife" was aggressively marketed as an unforgettable, must-see event. It certainly lived up to the hype.
Have you picked up your jaw yet? Yeah, neither have we.
Here's a breakdown of this week's shocking episode, "Dramatics, Your Honor":
Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert!):
So, WILL GARDNER DIES.
Will is representing Jeffrey Grant, a young man arrested for the murder of a college student, Dani Littlejohn. Will and the prosecutor spar over the veracity of DNA evidence. But as the case proceeds, Jeffrey begins to buckle under the pressures of trial. He eyes an officer's gun, grabs it, and open fires on the courtroom. Will is caught in the crossfire. He is pronounced dead at the hospital.
Meanwhile, Alicia participates in a voluntary deposition by the Office of Public Integrity about the election fraud scandal. But who cares? WILL GARDNER IS DEAD.
The episode ends with Alicia taking a call from Kalinda, who is about to tell Alicia that her former friend, her former colleague, her former lover -- Will Gardner -- IS DEAD.
The "case of the week" was about "touch DNA," a forensic method for analyzing DNA that's transferred via skin cells by touch.
Traditionally, DNA is extracted from stains or samples you can see. But touch DNA, also called "contact trace DNA," extracts samples from only a few skin cells left behind by a person who briefly touched an object, such as clothing. Even seven to eight skin cells can be enough to perform DNA analysis. Touch DNA was what cleared JonBenet Ramsey's family of her murder, according to the Scientific American.
Will and the prosecutor spent much of the episode trying to prove and disprove the touch DNA evidence. This is because such evidence can have reliability issues. For example, touch DNA does not tell you "when" or "how" DNA was deposited. Also, touch DNA can be contaminated in a variety of ways.
"The Good Wife" has a tendency to make courtroom proceedings and presiding judges look more casual than they are in real life. It especially happens in courtroom scene-heavy episodes like this one (after all, the title of the episode is "Dramatics, Your Honor"). Judy Politi's snarky banter with Will and the prosecutor is fun, but don't expect real life courtroom interactions to be quite as informal, sharp-tongued, or quick-witted.
Though it might seem like a courthouse shooting by a defendant was a made-for-TV scene, such shootings do happen in real life from time to time.
In 2009, a man facing rape charges grabbed a sheriff's deputy's gun and fatally shot three people in an Atlanta courthouse, including a judge. Back in 1983, a former policeman whipped out a pistol during his divorce case and fatally shot a judge and his ex-wife's lawyer.
- Voluntary deposition. Alicia voluntarily participated in a deposition over the election fraud case. By contrast, if you are subpoenaed, a deposition is mandatory, not voluntary.
- Order of protection. After finding out that Alicia is being followed by the Office of Public Integrity, Cary tells them he'll be filing an order of protection on behalf of her. It is possible to file for protective orders against the government.
WILL GARDNER IS DEAD! Gasp and gulp.
What did you think of this week's episode of "The Good Wife"? Is the show guilty of making any legal mistakes? Check back here for more legal recaps of "The Good Wife," and send us a tweet at @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #TheGoodWife.
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