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'The Good Wife': Good Law? - Season 5, Episode 21

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The closer we get to the finale, the closer "The Good Wife" gets to its political story arc... and a bit further from the law.

Remember Occupy Wall Street? This week's episode, entitled "The One Percent," will help you refresh your memory.

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert!):

Proving once again that Florrick/Agos and Lockhart/Gardner are the only two firms in Chicago, the episode begins with Alicia parrying with Louis Canning over a wrongful termination case. The former employee says he was fired for being gay, but Alicia just wants to settle the case before her corporate client opens his plutocratic mouth again.

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 5, Episode 21
"The One Percent"

Legal References:

More Legal Analysis of CBS' "The Good Wife":

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Diane continues to watch any control of her firm slip through her fingers, and Kalinda is continuing to sleep with Cary. But "The One Percent" puts most of its plot eggs in the Governor's basket, setting the stage for a non-legal drama between Peter, Alicia, and Eli. Gosh do we feel sorry for Eli.

Wrongful termination suits are pretty much garden-variety litigation. Even suing after being fired for being gay isn't all that uncommon anymore. However, the hyperbolic statements may be drawn from real-life persons like Silicon Valley businessman Tom Perkins, who compared the demonization of "the 1 percent" to Kristallnacht or Nazi Germany in general.

Most of the drama in this episode occurred outside a courtroom and dealt very nominally with the law. Louis Canning's random ploy to add religious discrimination to his client's wrongful termination suit may have been possible, but he would need to ask the court to amend the complaint first.

"The Good Wife" and just about any other lawyer-based drama loves the concept of jury selection. Yes, you can dismiss jurors for any non-discriminatory reason using a peremptory challenge. You only get a limited number of them, and you can legally use them to eliminate people you think simply don't like your client. But many courts believe you cannot use them to eliminate gay jurors.

In Chicago and other major cities, as well as many states, there are laws prohibiting employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. However, until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act actually passes, you may still be fired for being gay in many other places in the United States.

Conflict of interest: Lockhart/Gardner can't represent both a class-action suit against a corporation and the corporation itself without compromising its ethical obligations to either client.

The Verdict:

This episode did not rely much at all on law, it was more about the PR battle in Alicia's case. Not to mention what's happening in Peter's office... Hopefully there's more law to discuss in next week's season finale.

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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