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'The Good Wife': Good Law? - Season 5, Episode 19

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

It was a murder mystery whodunit on "The Good Wife" this week, and Alicia showed Americans how unreliable even the most competent eyewitness can be.

"Tying the Knot" plays a bit like an episode of "Scandal," but there are plenty of legal twists to untangle. Here's what you need to know:

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert!):

Alicia is invited over to client Colin Sweeney's ridiculous mansion to get the eccentric businessman (played gleefully wicked by Dylan Baker) to sign something when a woman is found hanging by a noose. Police suspect murder, and Alicia is swept up in an investigation of yet another death involving Sweeney. Meantime, Finn Polmar is being edged out of the State's Attorney's Office, but not before he can attempt to shield himself by announcing he's running against his boss.

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 5, Episode 19
"Tying the Knot"

Legal References:

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Adding to tangled mess of "Tying the Knot," Alicia's son Zack appears on Gawker with a bong! And as this episode demonstrates, things are not always what they seem.

Although Sweeney's character is hardly a saint in the "Good Wife" universe, this particular case may have been ripped from an Italian man's trial over a "Shibari"-related death in 2011. Like Sweeney and his girlfriend, those who practice Shibari view it as erotic art rather than risky auto-erotic asphyxiation.

A preliminary hearing serves to determine whether there is sufficient probable cause for serious criminal charges to proceed against a defendant. For a murder preliminary hearing like Renata's, the prosecution only needs to prove that there is more than a hunch that the defendant committed the murder. This is an extremely low bar, and it seems very unlikely that the judge would dismiss the case just based on Alicia's testimony.

Alicia tries to save Finn from being fired by announcing his candidacy for State's Attorney -- because it would be illegal to fire someone for protected political conduct. In Cook County, this kind of employment change based on political action is called a Shakman violation, based on a decades-old case in federal court.

While it's true that Finn wasn't being fired for his political beliefs, the threat of a retaliation suit was good enough.

Asked and answered: Although this rule is bent on any courtroom drama, it is objectionable to ask a question that a witness has already answered. Typically an attorney will do this for dramatic effect or to rile the witness, and Diane Lockhart is great at both -- especially when Alicia is on the stand.

The Verdict:

Alicia helped Sweeney get away with murder (literally) again, and now he has a partner in crime. A decent mix of "Scandal" and "Law and Order" elements also kept this episode fairly legally sound.

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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