Best two minutes on TV today

Occurs in the pilot episode of “Harry’s Law” starring Kathy Bates. To watch it, go to the NBC video and go to the 23:45 mark of the episode (I haven’t watched the whole episode yet, but if the rest of the show is anything like this, it should be pretty interesting).

Transcript isn’t the same without Kathy Bates’ fiery acting, but for those who can’t get NBC video, here’s my attempt… Kathy Bates plays Harriet Korn, a defense attorney, and in the pilot episode she defends a young black man named Malcolm on his third drug offense.

Prosecutor: I gotta say, Malcolm, as drug addicts go, you seem like such a swell kid. Swell kid. And you’re the victim. You had no choice but to buy the cocaine, am I right? Am I right?

Malcolm: I’m not the victim. I know that, sir.

Prosecutor: Oh, but there are victims here, aren’t there, Malcolm? See, here’s the thing about being a junkie. It’s expensive. It costs thousands of dollars a week to get a fix and the only way most drug addicts can swing that is by stealing and whose houses you think they break into? Whose cars get hijacked? Whose innocent children get killed in the crossfire of their turf wars?

Did it ever occur to you, Malcolm, that every time you buy cocaine you help fund a billion dollar illegal drug trade that is bringing this country to its knees — a drug trade that is killing innocent people…

Harriet Korn: [interrupting] It’s a billion dollar trade because it’s illegal…

Prosecutor: Objection…

Harriet Korn: Maybe we should decriminalize if your goal…

Prosecutor: Wait. Did you actually just say that? Did you actually just say that?

Harriet Korn: I believe I did. I believe I did.

Prosecutor: What, you wanna just pass drugs out on the street, is that…

Harriet Korn: That’s where they’re passed out now. At a thousand times the pharmaceutical cost…

Prosecutor: Move to strike…

Harriet Korn: … and if we legalized drugs, addicts would need less than two cents on the dollar to support their habit. They’d hardly have to break into homes or cars or…

Prosecutor: We have something we call values in this country…

Harriet Korn: And they coincide with saving the innocent lives you were carrying on about.

Prosecutor: You’re seriously saying we should legalize drugs…

Harriet Korn: Everybody commissioned to study the problem has said it…

Prosecutor: Who, everybody, who?…

Harriet Korn: If we legalize them, we treat the disease instead of punishing it away.

Prosecutor: Great! You wanna pass out needles, too?

Harriet Korn: Perhaps. If you’re against the spread of AIDS. Are you?

Prosecutor: If we were to legalize drugs…

Harriet Korn: We could neutralize the gangs; take the drug business out of the shadows…

Prosecutor: And do what? Celebrate it?

Harriet Korn: How about regulate it? Tax it?

Prosecutor: Yes, and then every liberal in America can just light up and say ‘Hallelujah! Legalized drugs!’

Harriet Korn: The idea was first raised by conservative Republicans.

Prosecutor: Oh please. When?

Harriet Korn: When the party had thinkers. Before it was hijacked by the likes of Rush Limbaugh…

Prosecutor: Here we go…

Harriet Korn: … a drug addict himself…

Prosecutor: Ancient history

Harriet Korn: … who somehow fared much better in our justice system. I wonder why.

Prosecutor: The race card. There it is.

Harriet Korn: Oh, if I wanted to play the race card, I’d talk about the disparity of sentencing…

Prosecutor: Objection!

Harriet Korn: … but I’m not doing that. I’m keeping it about one kid only. He’s sitting right there and he’s getting screwed.

Of course, such a dialogue could never really take place in a courtroom, yet it was beautiful to see.

Big thanks to David Boaz at Cato at Liberty, who has more on this, include a bit from the closing arguments.

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21 Responses to Best two minutes on TV today

  1. Joe says:

    Just an FYI to others because I had trouble viewing the video. Ad Block Plus plugin must be disabled for in order to play the video.

  2. darkcycle says:

    Harry Anslinger is spinning in his grave about now.

  3. vicky vampire says:

    Yes I saw the episode damn it was excellent, right on spot.
    Yes it makes me want to jump up and down and kiss the scrip writers and directors hell a big hug to everyone involved in this episode Kudos to everyone.

  4. Ben says:

    On network TV! That’s seriously awesome.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Law & Order is certainly on our side nowadays. The new LA version had a murder in a string of dispensary robberies or so they thought. It was actually someone trying to use the robberies to cover up a murder. The cops caught the robbers, busted the murderers, treated the dispensary people with respect, and the bald cop rolled a joint for a lady cancer victim because she was too nervous. About the only thing that wasn’t realistic was the dispensary operators were nervous about talking to the cops. Hey scriptwriters, this is California, the medical players call the local cops when the DEA confiscates their cannabis, helloooo? Actually I guess the way the cops acted wasn’t very real for LA either. It really sucks that they canceled the original L&O, now we’ll never know what happened with Lt. Van Buren’s cancer that had her using medical cannabis to palliate the nasty side effects of chemo.

      It certainly is different than it was in the 80s when TV scriptwriters got brownie points or something for working in ‘drugs are bad, mmm-kay’ into the scripts. Everyone did know that’s where that line in South Park came from, parody of the ONDCP paying scriptwriters to work that bullshit into the script, right?

      • Common Science says:

        Duncan it wasn’t that long ago…

        The arrangement, uncovered by a six-month Salon News investigation, is known to only a few insiders in Hollywood, New York and Washington. Almost none of the producers and writers crafting the anti-drug episodes knew of the deal. And top officials from the five networks involved last season — NBC, ABC, CBS, the WB and Fox — for the most part refused to discuss it. The sixth network, UPN, failed to attract the government’s interest the first year of the program; it joined the flock this current TV season.

  5. Just Legalize It says:

    after going without cable for a while, i had to find an alternative… i will share it with all my fellow cannabis consumers. just click on the tv shows link to get tv shows, movies to get movies… pretty self explanatory for internet literate folk

    and yes, harrys law is on there. along with countless other tv shows, both old and new

  6. allan420 says:

    Watching it now… Bates is giving her closing argument to the jury. And you’re right Pete, excellent and spot on the money! Props to Harry’s Law writers and NBC.

    The scene between bates and the persecutor was well presented, rapid fire and the arguments irrefutable.

    And I wouldn’t have watched it were it not for Pete’s pointing it out here at DWR. Oh oh… jury’s in… and the verdict is…

    Oh, I’m not a spoiler!

    But what an episode like this means? Dare I say it…?


  7. C.E. says:

    Here’s how it would go in a real courtroom. After the prosecutor asks his incredibly objectionable question, Harriet objects, it’s overruled. Harriet starts her little discourse, and the judge tells her to sit down, it’s not her turn. Then, after the prosecutor is through making a completely irrelevant point, Harriet gets up and starts asking the kid about how drug prohibition is the cause of all the problems the prosecutor talked about. The prosecutor objects on the ground of relevance. It’s sustained. Harriet has to sit down and shut up. Harriet tries to make the same argument to the jury. The judge strikes her argument, because she’s arguing facts not in evidence. The kid gets convicted and the prosecutor and judge smug themselves to death.

  8. Duncan20903 says:

    No Allen, you’re not a spoiler, but along comes C.E. to slap us in the face with reality. Umm, C.E., this show is a legal comedy like Boston Legal from my impression of it. William Shatner was great in that series. It annoys me to no end when ‘serious’ legal dramas screw up courtroom procedure, not so much if it’s comedy. But the way it happens in a real courtroom is the Judge says, “and are you pleading guilty because you are guilty, not because you’ve been offered any inducements or coerced in any way?” If you want to do reality, do reality.

    Nobody else noticed they mentioned jury nullification? My wife was watching the show and I blew it off to torture myself with prohibition related arcana.

  9. Sick........! says:

    Cant see this happening in a real court room. Courts are about anything but truth or justice…especially when the judge tells a jury what they can and cant do to come to their decision.

  10. ezrydn says:

    Just finished watching it. Outstanding! This looks like a program I’ll follow (which ain’t easy to do down here), if it’s picked up as a “regular.”

    There’s something about “Harry’s Law” that separates it from the run-of-the-mill lawyer shows.

    What was she smoking in the opening shot?? It didn’t have a filter. LOL

    Now, if MSM will allow it to flow and blossom, and the writers don’t succomb to being told “what/how to write,” they’ve surely got a winner with this one.

  11. allan420 says:

    Just as an example of unintended consequences and television… PBS’ series on the history of TV episode on science fiction (and in an interview w/ Tavis Smiley) Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) told about when she was ready to quit Star Trek. She received a message from a fan urging her to stay on. The fan? MLK (yes, Dr. King was a Trekkie). It was at his urgings that she decided to stay on because hers was the highest profile part ever held by a black woman in TV.

    And this Harry’s Law episode is not about mirroring reality (CE) but more about what might be or perhaps what should be.

  12. darkcycle says:

    I don’t watch the T.V. machine much. I find the stories too contrived, and the violence gratuitous. I don’t seek out violence anymore (well, certainly not for entertainment) as I’ve discovered that the real world has all the real violence and death you could ever want or need. And if you’re not getting enough of it, just hang around (or thank your lucky stars). I’ll watch PBS occasionally, and I love any type of racing where they include right hand turns, so Speed Channel gets a workout. So odds are I’ll never see this, but it’s great to know somebody in Hollywierd gets it. (some of my extended family work in show business, and “getting it” isn’t all that common there)

  13. BruceM says:

    I saw this…

    The kid was found guilty on the show. Which surprised me, because TV is all about happy endings (though they manufactured one). I appreciate the common sense anti-prohibition speech, especially on primetime TV, but as a lawyer I found this to be horrendously unrealistic. Well, except for the guilty verdict. But the judge managed to give him probation, despite the fact that it was his 3rd felony and he was looking at a mandatory minimum of (only!) one year. In reality he’d be looking at 25 to life in every state in the country, no probation allowed. Also, Harriet the defense lawyer noted that by putting him on the stand, his prior offenses would come in… yet that didn’t seem to happen when he testified like it would in real life. Total bullshit.

    But yes, Cathy Bates’ speech was good and refreshing to hear on TV. Now the show will be cancelled. At the very least, the DEA will pull a “House” and demand that NBC never lets any anti-prohibition talk on the show ever again.

  14. Chris says:

    “What was she smoking in the opening shot?? It didn’t have a filter. LOL”

    Let’s see here (I’m not watching in in HD)…
    – no filter
    – holding it like a joint
    – empty chip bags and snacks
    – watching cartoons (ending with bugs bunny licking a cigarette he just rolled)

    I think it’s safe it’s implied. A good way to start a TV series!

    • Maria says:

      Sounds awesome. I can’t help but feel a little optimistic. The more shows that show regular consumers, enjoying or using marijuana as part of their day, the better.

  15. Common Science says:

    Aways back there was a discussion about ‘green goddess’ friendly TV episodes. To a man you all missed mentioning any of David Simon’s new series ‘Treme’ on HBO. For shame! This show has a number of notables from ‘The Wire’ as well as performances and cameos of a long list of established musicians from New Orleans and elsewhere.

    Here’s a clip of the theme song by John Boutte´:

    There’s been a number of normalized joint passing moments outside clubs between sets, during parades, etc. mainly involving musicians.

    I don’t mean the good kind, you know, jazz musicians.

  16. Shap says:

    I’m with BruceM on the absurdity/unrealistic aspect but it’s definitely good for the cause to see this on network television.

  17. Sarah S says:

    Hello Everyone, First time poster and excited to be a part of the conversation !

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