418. Death Penalties

United States, Original Airdate, April 9, 2000.
Written by: David E. Kelley and Alfonso H. Moreno
Directed by: Keith Samples


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We do not own the characters in this story, nor do we own any rights to the television show `The Practice'. They were created by David E. Kelley and belong to him and David E. Kelley Productions.

This is a cut and dry transcript of "Death Penalties."


The show opens with Bobby and a client talking in Bobbyís office.

Bobby: We have to make a decision.

Mr. Simpson: What do you think ?

Bobby: I think if we can get manslaughter we should take it.

Mr. Simpson: How much time would I serve?

Bobby: It could be as little as three years. I would think at the most six.

Mr. Simpson: God, my kids are 13 and 11ÖÖ six years!

Bobby: Here is the problem jury nullification is risky. Technically Iím not even allowed to argue it.

Mr. Simpson: What about insanity?

Bobby: The problem there is your demeanor was calm and deliberate at the time. Now look, Helen Gamble is a very good DA, also on this issue, she is on a mission with it. Her grandmother, I donít know all the details, was euthanized somehow. All I know is she goes tough on mercy killings.

Mr. Simpson: This was an act of compassion for Godís sake.

Bobby: You know that, I know that, but if we can get manslaughter I think we should do it.

Mr. Simpson: I canít believe they are pushing this. This is politics.

Bobby: You did shoot her in the head.

The Theme Song and opening credits.

Coming out of the elevator in the courthouse are Helen, Bobby and Lindsay. They are heading to the courtroom.

Helen: Iím not offering manslaughter.

Bobby: Itís a mercy killing.

Helen: Itís a homicide.

Bobby: Iím agreeing to plead homicide

Helen: Not enough you are not

Bobby: What are you looking for a life sentence? This man is no criminal.

Helen: Iím looking for more than five years, which is what he would probably do with manslaughter. And he is a criminal Bobby, he committed premeditated murder what Iím suppose to go light because it came from love. A lot of homicides do.

Bobby: Listen to how angry you are getting.

Helen: Iíll see you in there.

Bobby: Hey, (grabbing her arm) get some therapy.

Helen: Take your hand off me, please.

Helen walks away, leaving Lindsay and Bobby behind.

Lindsay: I tried talking to her last night.

Bobby: So what do we do?

Lindsay: I still wouldnít go insanity, sheíll pick us apart plus itís pretty obvious he knew what he was doing.

Bobby: So what are we left with?

Next scene is at the judgeís chambers. Helen, Bobby and Lindsay are standing before a female judge:

Judge: Self-defense?

Bobby: Itís viable/

Judge: You want to argue he defended his wife by shooting her in the head?

Bobby: I should at least be allowed to argue it!

Judge: Well you wonít be. I have to prevent the law from being tortured here.

Bobby: If you consider the strict elements hereÖ.

Judge: You will not argue that he acted in self-defense that is ridiculous. What else?

Bobby: Weíd ask the prosecution to include manslaughter as a lesser included charge

Helen: It wasnít manslaughter it was premeditated and...

Bobby: Question for the jury.

Helen: The jury doesnít get to decide what defendants are charged with.

Bobby: The reason she wonít charge manslaughter is sheís afraid that is what the jury will come back with.

Judge: I canít tell the prosecution what to charge counsel.

Bobby: Your honorÖ(heís interrupted by Lindsey)

Lindsey: Bobby (giving him a look to stop)

Judge: Letís go inÖÖMs. Gamble one second please. (Bobby and Lindsay walk out of the room, Helen stays behind.)

Judge: As Iíve said, I canít tell you how to prosecute your case, but it seems manslaughter is a good result here.

Helen: I donít agree.

Judge: A jury could let him go free.

Helen: Iím aware of that possibility your honor. (Helen leaves the room)

Back in the office, someone opens the door and a woman walks in.

Lucy: (holding a cup) May I help you?

Iím Mary Donovon. Iím looking for Bobby Donnell, Eugene Young or Eleanor Frutt.

Eleanor: Iím Eleanor Frutt

Donovon: Oh, hello. Itís very nice to meet you. You come highly recommended. I have $500, I would like to buy a day of your time.

Lucy: $500 will get you to lunch.

Eleanor: Is there something specificÖ.

Donovon: My son, heís in jail for a crime he didnít commit.

Eleanor: WellÖ

Donovon: Yes, every mother thinks her son is innocent. The distinction here mine is. If I could just have one day. If itís more than $500 I can pay overtime

Eleanor: Can you tell me the crime your son has been convicted of?

Donovon: Murder. Heís on death row in Pennsylvania. The governor just signed his warrant. Heís to be executed in five weeks, so time is of the essence. Iím told of your work on the Randall Jefferson case, what you accomplished in just 24 hours.

Eleanor: Mrs. Donovon, we were unable to save Randall Jefferson.

Donovon: Please, Iím only asking for one day.

Back in the courtroom. Helen is interviewing a witness.

Helen: What do you do as a hospice worker?

Witness: Itís much like that of nurse, though I work primarily with dying

patients. Usually at their own homes.

Helen: You worked for Scott Simpson, the defendant.

Witness: Yes, I looked after his wife. She was suffering from ovarian cancer.

Helen: Mrs. Raymonds, calling your attention to the evening of Dec. 5 of last year, do you recall what happened.

Witness: She was in a lot of pain.

Helen: Mrs. Simpson?

Witness: Yes, we were giving her increased dosages of morphine, but she was still in agony. She was begging that we let her die. Finally, Mr. Simpson he um he asked that I leave the room, which I did.

Helen: Then what happened?

Witness: After about two minutes or so I heard a gun shot Mr. Simpson then opened the door and he said his wife was gone.

Bobby: You spoke of morphine. Actually on the day in question you were using morphine in conjunction with a benzyl diasapine, isnít that right?

Witness: Yes.

Bobby: This drug is the equivalent of valium. Witness: Itís very close yes.

Bobby: The purpose of the morphine valium cocktail is to hasten the patientís death. Isnít that right, Mrs. Raymond?

Witness: Itís primarily to relieve pain.

Bobby: Mrs. Raymonds, I remind you, you are under oath. The morphine valium combination that is used to cause the patientís death. True?

Witness: Yes.

Bobby: So on the day in question you were already acting to hasten Mrs. Simpsonís death , werenít you?

Witness: In conjunction with the familyís wishes, I was employing a method of pain management that would most likely result in the patientís death, yes.

Bobby: And no one charged you with attempted murder I assume ?

Helen: Objection.

Judge: Sustained.

Bobby: When Mr. Simpson ended his wifeís life he did something in seconds that you were basically trying to do in a day or so?

Witness: I canít disagree with that.

Bobby: Thank you.

Back in the office, Eleanor and Mrs. Donovan are sitting in the conference room.

Donovon: He was only 19 at the time. Heís convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend, Alyssa Kearns, then killing her mother. This is them. (Showing Eleanor a picture of two women)

Eleanor: And this happened when?

Donovon: In 1988, heís been in prison 12 years. The evidence was one eyewitness who placed him at the scene, plus a lying jail house informant who made up a story about Stuart confessing. He never did.

Eleanor: And what is your sonís story?

Donovon: That he was out hunting. And itís not a story. He was with my husband, who the police just thought was trying to cover for him. My husband has since passed away.

Eleanor: Any DNA?

Donovon: Stuartís blood type matched whoever did it. Thatís a problem. They didnít do full DNA analysis back then.

Eleanor: Never?

Donovan: In 1992 we finally had it done, unfortunately the tests proved inconclusive. We went to try again in 95, but by then the rape kit had either been lost or destroyed.

Eleanor: What is his appellate lawyer telling you?

Donovon: That heís done all he can do. Heís giving up. (Eleanor looks surprised and confused)

Helen and Eleanor in their apartment, getting ready to sit down to dinner.

Helen: You took it? Eleanor: I agreed to meet with her son and the DA if I can.

Helen: In Pennsylvania.

Eleanor: Itís a hour and a half flight. Iím there and back in a day. And you know, who knows, if he really is innocentÖ.

Helen: God bless you Eleanor. If I had your heart.

Eleanor: Youíd have a heart.

Helen: Oh, funny

Eleanor: Ok, look Can I ask you something and Iím not trying to pick a fight here , I promise. Why not plead out on manslaughter. Grieving husband and I donít believe you really believe this guy is a danger to society. He does timeÖ.

Helen: He shot her in the head.

Eleanor: Is it the method then - the fact that he used a gun?

Helen: Partly, yes.

Eleanor: So if he used a needle and injected her with something to put her to sleep then you would agree to manslaughter.

Helen: No, seems even less like manslaughter. You put dogs to sleep not people.

Eleanor: Ok, so agreed itís a crime. But my question goes to why murder two, why not manslaughter?

Helen: Let me ask you a question. You are against the death penalty you say itís barbaric. Itís okay to put sick people to death but not convicted murderers?

Eleanor: No, those are two very different things

Helen: No they are not. Lethal injections in both cases.

Eleanor: Look, there is a very big difference between executing a healthy person and allowing a terminal one in pain to die.

Helen: Mrs. Simpson wasnít allowed to die she had a bullet pumped into her head.

Eleanor: She wanted to die.

Helen: Oh, is that the test, whether she wants to die. Cause a lot of inmates on death row they want to die. You support killing them? (raising her voice)

Eleanor: Iím talking about a dying woman (shaking her fork at Helen)in extreme -

Helen: Please donít shake your fork at me. What about the guy with a brain tumor whose got four to six months to live? Heís not suffering, but he doesnít want it to ever get to that point so heíd rather die now. Is it okay to kill him if he wants?

Eleanor: Well I think we need to reevaluateÖ..

Helen: How about the ones with six months to live?

Eleanor: Iím not saying itís okay to kill anybody Iím only sayÖ.

Helen: Okay, well fine. You make a list of who itís okay to kill and who its not, all right??

Eleanor: Oh, Helen, Stop it. This woman was in extreme agony her husband was trying to spare her some suffering and you go after him like heís some monster.

Helen: Iím suppose to listen to you on whoís a sympathetic defendant and who's not? Forgive me if I donít trust your damn judgement and thank you for allowing me to enjoy my supper.

(Helen gets up from the table and goes to her room. You hear the door slam): Eleanor: I was just making conversation. (she picks up her wine glass and downs the entire thing)


Back in the courtroom. First you see the jurors and then the camera focuses on Mr. Simpson, who is testifying.

Mr. Simpson: Last week she had been in unbearable pain. She was tough, Sally, she had endured a year of massive chemotherapy treatments.

Bobby: Lets talk about the very last day.

Mr. Simpson: She just couldnít take it anymore. We then started the morphine with the valium, Mrs. Raymonds said she would probably go into a coma and die in a day or two. The pain wouldnít go away. (shows shots of Mr. Simpsonís two children, sitting in the court room) Bobby: What did you do?

Mr. Simpson: I asked Mrs. Raymonds to increase the morphine. She said she didnít want to throw her into seizures because that would be more pain. So I asked her to leave the room.

Bobby: Then what happened

Mr. Simpson: I went to my closet, retrieved my revolver from the safe andÖI ended it.

Bobby: She would have likely been dead in a day, why?

Mr. Simpson: I wasnít going to let her suffer for another second. For two years, they cut out half her insides filled her with chemicals. And the pain. (started crying and pounding his fist on the stand). Not another minute, not another second, not another secondÖ.

Next scene is a plane arriving in Pennsylvania and then Eleanor and Mrs. Donovan are shown entering a jail. Next scene, Eleanor and Mrs. Donovon are speaking to Stuart:

Mrs. Donovon: Baby.

Stuart: Hey Mom.

Mrs. Donovon: This is Eleanor Frutt. My son, Stuart.

Eleanor: Hello.

Stuart: She says you can do something. Can you really?

Eleanor: I donít know Stuart. I have a few meetings set up and then maybe I will have a better idea.

Stuart: How about this Bobby Donnell guy, is he coming too?

Eleanor: Heís in trial now, so he couldnít make it

Mrs. Donovon: Sheís very good Stuart. I checked her out plenty.

Eleanor: Um actually I have a meeting with the District Attorney in a little over an hour, so I read your statements but Iíd like to hear in person your account of things.

Stuart: Okay, itís pretty simple. I was there that day because I needed to see her.

Eleanor: Why?

Stuart: We argued earlier that week. She wasnít returning my calls. She said we needed to take a break so I left. That night I went hunting with my dad, the next day the police showed up.

Eleanor: Did you make love to Alyssa that afternoon?

Stuart: No.

Eleanor: And did you see her mother?

Stuart: No, not that day. (long silence) Do we have a chance? (Eleanor looks unsure)

Back in the courtroom in Boston, Bobby is questioning Mrs. Simpsonís oncologist.

Bobby: When a patient reaches stage four of ovarian cancer itís pretty bleak.

Doctor: The odds of survival are tougher, yes

Bobby: But you were generally encouraging to Mrs. Simpson, werenít you doctor?

Doctor: I donít know if I was optimistic

Bobby: But you certainly held out the hope that the chemo treatments, her pushing fluids plus the two surgeries to debalk the cancer, it could maybe save her.

Doctor: That was the best chance

Bobby: But there never was any real chance of saving Mrs. Simpsonís life, was there Dr. Sheehans?

Helen: Objection, Mrs. Simpsonís oncologist has nothing to do with what transpired.

Bobby: It is my contention that this doctor contributed to Mrs. Simpsonís suffering. That goes to my clientís state of mind.