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Steven Culp on "Harry's Law"

Episode: New Kidney on the Block

HARRY'S LAW - "New Kidney on the Block" - Harry (Kathy Bates), Cassie (Karen Olivo) and Adam (Nate Corddry) represent a quick-witted 21-year-old dying of kidney failure who illegally purchased a kidney from a willing donor/seller.

Meanwhile, Tommy (Christopher McDonald) and Oliver (Mark Valley) defend identical twins who are both arrested when the man they are both married to and live with is murdered. Roseanna Remmick (Jean Smart) is convinced that one of the twins must be responsible, leaving Tommy and Oliver to walk the line between truth and justice in hopes of keeping the them out of jail. (c)


Detailed summary:

Harry, Tommy, Oliver and Adam play a late night poker game with friends. A smart-ass 21-year-old named Jimmy is commanding the table. His wisecracks and name-calling start to annoy the other players. Soon Harry and Jimmy are in a poker face off. She calls his rich bet, but loses to his open-ended straight flush. Jimmy openly celebrates to the annoyance of the rest of the table. The next day, Jimmy arrives in Harry's office to give her back all of his winnings. It's a peace offering in order to gain Harry's services. Jimmy tells Harry that he's dying of acute kidney failure, and he needs Harry to help him change the law to allow patients to buy kidneys on the black market.

Tommy is reeling in anger from a letter he just received. He asks Oliver if he's interested in a "menage-a-murder." Tommy is representing two identical female twins in the murder of their common husband, but a judge has ruled that the twins must have separate counsel. He asks Oliver if he's interested in teaming up. Later, Tommy and Oliver meet with the twins: Layla and Nicole Wheyland. These beautiful twins defend their lifestyle as they give details of how their marriage worked. Layla and Wade were legally married, but the three of them had a committed bond. Tommy tells the twins their harsh reality; the jury will view their lifestyle as inherently depraved and thus think they're murderers. Nicole pleads with Oliver and Tommy; their lifestyle may be provocative, but they are innocent of murder.

Harry, Adam and Cassie meet with Jimmy to discuss their options on how to change the law to allow legal organ sales. Adam is steadfast in thinking it's an impossible task. Cassie brainstorms different options, but she is turned off by Jimmy's interjections. Jimmy mentions that the seller of the kidney is freely participating, and he can bring him in for questioning.

D.A. Roseanna Remmick starts her case against the Wheyland twins. She describes the twins to the jury as spoiled rich girls who were perpetrating a scam to marry a rich fat man and then kill him in order to gain all of his money. Tommy begins his opening statement by saying how the prosecution has no actual facts in the case, just a juicy story to tantalize the jury. If the prosecution convinces them the twins are depraved enough, they might convict without any actual evidence. The jury looks at the twins, not sure how to feel.

Harry, Adam and Cassie meet with Christopher Phillips. Mr. Phillips adamantly defends his right to sell his kidney to Jimmy. He's been unemployed for over a year, and his family desperately needs the $70,000 he would receive. He understands the risks of only having one kidney, but it's a risk he's willing to take. Jimmy tells Harry how he's tried every other option to no avail. He has no family, and his name is too far down the transplant list to be saved in time. He was pretending Phillips was a family member, but then the hospital realized it was a sale and canceled the transplant. Harry reluctantly decides to help Jimmy, but she tells him they have no realistic chance in succeeding.

Oliver meets with Remmick in her office. She reveals to Oliver that the police believe Nicole is the real killer and Layla is covering for her. "Nicole is the evil twin," Remmick says. "She's been in trouble before." Remmick offers Oliver a deal; if Layla gives up Nicole, she will reduce Nicole's charge to a lesser count. Oliver believes Remmick is just stalling; she has no real evidence, and this deal is just a last-ditch effort for some type of conviction. Later, Oliver meets with Layla and tries to find out why Remmick would offer that deal. Layla is adamant that Nicole is innocent and never left the house that night.

Harry, Adam, Cassie and Jimmy meet with a judge. The judge reiterates to them that the selling of human organs is simply not permitted in America, but agrees to hear testimony from Jimmy and an expert on the matter. Later at the hearing, Jimmy testifies that he's on the waiting list, but the doctors say he won't last the time it will take to get a kidney. He's not willing to wait and die, so with sizeable money he was able to purchase a kidney. The judge questions Phillips on why he's selling his kidney. Phillips somberly says he's not a proud man for what he's doing, but he would rather give up a kidney then see his family suffer.

At trial, Tommy and Oliver are successful in punching holes in Remmick's case. With no hard evidence leading to the twins, Oliver proclaims the police simply followed the saying, "When in doubt arrest the spouse." Remmick interviews a next-door neighbor who testifies to seeing one of the twins leaving the house the night of the murder. She also gossips about how certain elements of the twin's lifestyle were suspect - late night parties and other men while the husband was away. Oliver is worried that they are losing the jury. Tommy believes the evidence is too circumstantial to be concerned about, but Oliver decides Layla needs to testify.

Oliver tries to personalize Layla to the jury by questioning her relationship with Wade and her sister. She tells the jury that they never had sex with each other; it was more of an "emotional threesome." Layla testifies that Nicole and she never left the house that night. She was meditating in the "zen room" while Nicole was in the den working. Remmick cross-examines Layla by showing photos of her dead husband. He's a wig-wearing, fat man with acne scores. Layla denies marrying Wade for his money as Remmick mocks their "emotional" relationship. Then Remmick shows a photo, taken the night of the crime, of one of the twins driving a car two blocks away from the murder scene. Oliver and Tommy quickly object to the photo; they were never told about it. Remmick fights back that because Layla was put on the stand, the photo can be used as evidence. The judge sides with Remmick.

Later in a conference room, Oliver and Tommy confront the twins about the surprise photo. Nicole admits it's her in the photo. She went to confront Wade, and things turned deadly. Layla is grief-stricken. Nicole interjects that she'll plead guilty if Layla is let go. Oliver tells them it's not that simple; the jury will just believe one of them is sacrificing herself to save the other.

Oliver talks to Remmick, trying to accept the plea deal she offered earlier. Remmick takes back the offer; she now believes the jury will convict both of the twins of murder, and she doesn't need to make a deal anymore. Later, Tommy and Oliver talk about their closing arguments. Tommy is positive of their chances; the prosecution has not proven any substantial facts. Oliver is less confident.

Harry questions a doctor who is in favor of making organ sales legal. He feels there are too many people dying because the organ transplant list is simply not working. If you make organ sales legal and regulate it, lives will be saved. The judge questions if allowing that would greatly benefit the rich instead of the poor. The doctor fights back, saying, "That's the world we live in." The military is a "back-door draft" where mostly poor people have been fighting and dying overseas while the rich stay safe. The poor don't get medical insurance, proper food... the disenfranchised have and always will come up short in life. But if they are able to make money by selling organs and lives are saved, it would be a greater benefit to all. If you regulate the market, it will be no different than having people selling their babies through adoptions.

Tommy and Oliver start their closing arguments. They each go up and blame the other twin for the murder, trying to create reasonable doubt in the jury by having them not know which twin to believe. Remmick applauds the defense on their obvious plan; it's "diabolical." She tells the jury that the twins were in on the murder together; they both should be punished for the crime.

The judge hears final arguments on legalizing organ sales. The state says the act of selling organs is amoral. If allowed, the practice will become outrageous with the poor being hurt the most. Plus, the organ transplant lists will be demolished and the country's transplant program turned into a money-for-hire scheme. Harry argues that by legalizing organ sales more people will live. The judge interjects, more rich people will live. Harry tells the judge that she simply wants to give Jimmy the right to save himself. By not allowing Jimmy to buy a kidney, the judge is issuing him a death sentence. The judge understands the moral, legal and philosophical reasons behind the fierce debate of organ sales, but she rules against it. If organ sales were made legal, the disenfranchised and poor would greatly suffer. She feels sympathy for Jimmy, but her decision stands. With tears in his eyes, Jimmy bolts from the courtroom.

The jury reaches the verdict on the Wheyland twins: guilty. Both twins collapse in tears. Later, Oliver gives the judge a signed confession from Nicole accepting full responsibility of the crime. He says Layla is innocent and should be set free. The judge says it's too late; both Nicole and Layla were convicted in a fair trial by a jury of their peers. Oliver fights back. He expects justice and fairness; an innocent woman is going to jail. "We do not guarantee defendants justice in the business," the judge tells Oliver. "We only assure them the right to a fair trial, and they got one." Later, Oliver asks Harry for advice. Surprisingly, she agrees with the judge; innocence is not grounds for a new trail. Oliver blames himself for the loss, as he solemnly walks out.

Jimmy visits Harry in her office. He thanks her for all the effort she put in. Harry asks how he's holding up; Jimmy jokes that he'll live... but not for long. With scared tears in his eyes, Jimmy tries to hold up a strong front, but Harry sees right through him. They hug one last time; then Harry watches Jimmy walk away. (c)

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