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'The Good Wife': Good Law? - Season 5, Episode 8

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

"The Good Wife" came back swinging this week, with Alicia and the rest of Florrick/Agos battling a confusing and potentially deadly immigration issue.

Here's a breakdown of the legal (and not-so-legal) ways Alicia and friends try to stop a man from being deported to Mexico in "The Next Month":

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert!):

Florrick/Agos is getting settled into its new digs (in a tetanus-y abandoned T-shirt factory) while Lockhart/Gardner is rebranding itself as "LG." Meantime, America Ferrara ("Ugly Betty" sans braces and specs) gets harassed at LG and decides to go to Florrick/Agos with her immigration case. And Alicia uses AutoCAD to design her office!

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 5, Episode 8
"The Next Month"

Legal References:

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

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The client, Tomas Ruiz, is in deportation proceedings but he can save himself by testifying against a notorious crime lord. Ruiz agrees to the deal, but the gangster flees and the deal is off the table. Everyone at Florrick/Agos spends the rest of the episode chasing the case through various immigration courts, only to have the case resolved by the Mexican government.

"The Next Month" begins with a deal between the federal prosecutor and Ruiz about testifying in exchange for an S Visa, which the Department of Justice limits to 200 per fiscal year for immigrants with questionable immigration status who testify in federal criminal cases. Witnesses in cartel cases are reluctant enough to testify, and the AUSA (Assistant U.S. Attorney) is often authorized to offer an S Visa as a way to get aliens like Ruiz into court.

The removal process is complicated, and there was practically no way Florrick/Agos could have made all of those appearances in that short period. Also, a T Visa is for victims of human trafficking, not asylum for "blood feud" risks or witness intimidation.

And then there's Robin. After Kalinda (who is quickly becoming the Morgan Freeman of "The Good Wife") gives Robin a pep-talk about working harder, she takes that advice to heart -- by fabricating evidence and lying to Mexican consulate officials. Not only are both illegal and may lead to fraud-like criminal charges, but it won't look good if law enforcement ever lifts Robin's prints from that bullet.

As Florrick/Agos tries everything in the book to stop Ruiz from getting removed from the United States, the episode does a pretty good job of showing how difficult getting even a temporary visa can be.

For many undocumented aliens who are ineligible for other temporary visas, the asylum process is the only way to legally keep them in the United States. However, asylum status is restricted to those who can show that they will be persecuted for their race, religion, nationality, social group membership, or political opinion in their home country.

Unclean hands. Judge Reardon admonished Alicia for her client coming to a court of equity with unclean hands -- meaning that he'd done something wrong himself. Since Ruiz had engaged in misconduct by entering the country illegally, he can be denied help by the court in the form of an injunction or a stay on his deportation.

The Verdict:

Immigration issues are far too complicated to be done justice in 30 minutes of "The Good Wife." But the episode did shed light on some frustrations with the process.

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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