Episodes: Eight (hour)
TV show dates: September 15 – November 13, 2010
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Jimmy Smits, Carly Pope, David Ramsey, Jesse Bradford, and Ellen Woglom.
TV show description:
This courtroom drama focuses on a Supreme Court Justice who quits the bench in order to return to private practice.
Cyrus Garza (Jimmy Smits) does the unthinkable, shocking everyone when he resigns his position as a Supreme Court Justice. Not that he’s one to follow status quo anyway, as he’s a playboy, drinker, and gambler. Yet, usually when it comes to the law, he follows it by the book and is very conservative.
Once Garza begins to see the system as flawed, he knows he needs out, and quits to go back to private practice so that he can help “the little guy.” Part of this decision come from the recent death of his father, a man who stood on the opposite side of politics. Garza uses his inside knowledge of the justice system to take on today’s biggest legal issues — hot-button topics such as gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the death penalty — and he makes plenty of powerful people unhappy along the way.
In his new professional life, Garza puts together a team that includes past employees and friends. He includes his best friend since childhood, Al Druzinsky (David Ramsey), a liberal defense attorney for a man Garza helped get off death row. Eddie Franks (Jesse Bradford) is a Yale-educated attorney and a recently hired law clerk.
He also includes Lucinda Pearl (Carly Pope), a private investigator who uses everything she can to get the information she needs, and Mereta Stockman (Ellen Woglom) who is completely devoted to Garza as a law clerk.
Episode eight — In Re: Tony Mejia
Garza works out, playing basketball with White House Counsel Sherri Lemko. He’s upset that the President is considering a judge named Sean Ryan to take his place on the Supreme Court. Even though Ryan’s already been vetted by the Senate as a federal judge, Garza knows he was on the take back in the day. He points Sherri to a guy named Theo Chervin who’ll back up his story. In exchange, Sherri asks for a favor: A guy named Tony Mejia is making the rounds on the Hill. His daughter Lisa, an L.A. kindergarten teacher was murdered. The murderer fled across the border, and Mexico won’t extradite him. Now the President wants Garza to convince Mexico to send the murderer back. When Garza protests that he’s not the house Latino, Sherri points out that he kind of is, now that he’s quit the court.
When Garza puts his team to work, Eddie protests: the U.S. already has an extradition treaty with Mexico, even if it doesn’t work. More than 350 suspects of violent crimes in California alone are hiding out there. When Mereta takes a call from a man she doesn’t want to talk to, Lucinda accuses her of cheating on the boss. When Mereta claims the caller is her brother, Lucinda bets Eddie $50 there is no brother. Later, Tony Mejia, father of Lisa, comes by to discuss the case of her murderer, Julio Trujillo. Apparently when the LAPD found DNA proof, Trujillo fled to Mexico, where he’s finally in custody after months of pressure from the U.S. If he’s not extradited soon, they’re going to let him go. Handing Garza an envelope of photos of his daughter’s brutalized corpse, Mejia begs him to get Trujillo back.
It turns out that Trujillo’s uncle runs a drug cartel. Eddie’s immediately worried by the prospect of travelling to Monterrey, Mexico to get involved in the case. Lucinda fans the fire, describing the crime: Trujillo choked Lisa unconscious, then raped her. When she woke up, he broke her neck. The Mexican government won’t consider releasing Trujillo until the U.S. Attorney General takes the death penalty off the table. When Al sarcastically points out that Mexican courts operate per 19th century standards, Garza counters. They’re beginning to hear witnesses and oral arguments, and more people are getting extradited. The doorbell rings and Tim Reed rushes in to talk to Mereta, upset about a subpoena he was just served. When Mereta explains that Tim is nobody, Tim insists he’s her husband. Mereta leads Tim out of the room, leaving the rest of the team astonished.
Later, Tim explains to Al that four years ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 glioblastoma, a common type of brain tumor, and given four to six months to live without surgery. At the age of 22, Tim didn’t have health insurance, but his best friend from college did – Mereta. Knowing the insurance company couldn’t refuse her husband, Mereta offered to marry Tim, which saved his life. The only problem is, they’re now being sued for defrauding the insurance company. Mereta prefers to handle the matter herself, but when Al points out that she’s being sued by a Fortune 500 company, she accepts his help. As Garza rushes Lucinda and a very reluctant Eddie to catch a plane for Mexico, Al pulls himself and Mereta off the case.
In Monterrey, Garza, Eddie and Lucinda meet with Judge Del Rio, who has a very poor opinion of American criticism of the Mexican judicial system. When Garza explains he’s come with a message from the State Department – if extradited, Trujillo won’t face the death penalty – Del Rio snorts. Garza’s too late. Trujillo has already been tried for murder by paper trial. Eddie explains to Lucinda that a paper trial is a legacy of Spanish colonial rule, where a judge reads written accounts from the prosecution and defense. Lucinda gets hot, and Garza pleads, but Del Rio stands firm. It’s done, and they’ll have his decision by the end of the day. Afterwards, Garza explains what happened to Tony, adding that most Mexican states don’t allow testimony, in order to avoid lawyer showcasing and keep trials about the facts.
Later in court, Garza translates the judge’s statement for Mejia, who doesn’t speak Spanish. Trujillo has been found guilty, and sentenced to no less than 25 years. It’s over. Later at the airport, Garza calls Sherri, upset to see Sean Ryan out and about on Capitol Hill. Garza’s just plugging an alternative justice, Donald Crane, when Mejia calls. Hysterical, Mejia claims he’s watching the “animal who butchered my baby enjoy happy hour.” Garza insists that Trujillo is in jail, but Mejia watched the cops drop him off at the bar – like they worked for him! When the phone goes silent, Garza screams for Mejia. Garza doesn’t know Mejia has grabbed a gun off a policeman, until he hears four gunshots. Garza and his team rush to the scene, only to learn that Mejia has already fled the country.
Sherri calls and rips into Garza. He was supposed to smooth things over, not create an international incident. Apparently Trujillo used his credit card to buy a ticket to LAX, and the Mexican government is insisting they arrest him the minute he lands, claiming he killed Trujillo. Garza and his team catch the next flight to L.A., and Garza finds a handcuffed and traumatized Mejia in a holding cell at the airport. Mejia claims that he snapped when Trujillo laughed at him and called his daughter a whore. Furthermore, he can’t believe the Mexican government wants him back. Promising to pay whatever it takes, Mejia wants to fight extradition, but Garza explains that if the U.S. wants Mexico to send fugitives back, they have to practice what they preach. As they head back to Mexico, Garza promises to do everything he can to get Mejia home again.
Meanwhile, in D.C. Superior Court, Al files a motion to dismiss the case against Mereta and Tim with prejudice on grounds that the State failed to provide a legitimate Cause of Action under the law. There’s no legal restriction against marrying for insurance. Prosecuting attorney Culver is sarcastic – getting married and a loving marriage aren’t the same thing. His clients want damages of $500,000. The judge decides to let a jury decide the case, warning Culver that he’s set a high burden for himself in terms of defining a “loving marriage.” Upon their return to the Monterrey Airport, reporters and cops in riot gear immediately surround Mejia, Garza and his team. Just as Garza explains they’ve arranged for Mejia to surrender at the D.A.’s office where they’ll ask for bail, the cops whisky Mejia away, claiming he’s now in protective custody.
Garza calls Sherri, demanding the State Department file a complaint against the Mexican cops. Sherri thought Garza was calling to complain about the Ryan story now on TV, and yes, she found Chervin, on a goat farm in Iowa. Frustrated, Garza hangs up to ask his team what they found out. Lucinda talked to three employees of the cantina where Trujillo was shot; they’re terrified and won’t testify. She’s still hunting for a fourth. Eddie arranged for witness testimony and oral argument. With no witnesses, the only thing Garza has to go on is an insanity defense, which in Mexico, means they have to rely on a court-appointed psychiatrist. Garza abruptly pushes Eddie out the door to research the shrink, and Lucinda tells him to ease up. When Garza asks her to look up Sean Ryan, Lucinda realizes he’s still dealing with fallout from quitting the Court, and suggests therapy.
Back in D.C., Mereta panics just before giving her deposition. Al advises her to keep her answers short; she doesn’t have to admit she had an untraditional marriage. It will be okay as long as she doesn’t admit she got married just for the insurance. Mereta promises to do her best, but she knows she won’t be able to lie under oath. When Culver asks Mereta if she dated Tim before getting married, Al steps in, objecting on grounds of relevancy. Mereta sidesteps, explaining they spent every day together for four years, even if they didn’t live together. When Culver presses, asking if they ever consummated their union, Al objects. Culver’s not supposed to define love, and he’s badgering Mereta. Worn down, Mereta gives up, agreeing with Culver that her sole purpose in marrying Tim was to get the insurance he couldn’t get on his own.
Mejia is in terrible shape when he’s led off for an interview with court-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Fernandez. Lucinda finds Garza waiting in agony outside the doctor’s office, and joshes that he must have taken her advice. Luckily, she’s found the fourth cantina worker, who’s agreed to testify that Trujillo taunted Mejia just before the shooting. Lucinda claims to know Garza’s having buyer’s remorse for leaving the Supreme Court, but she thinks what he’s doing now is so much cooler. She hands him an envelope containing Chervin’s testimony against Ryan, and advises him to make peace with the fact he’s being replaced. After Mejia is led away, Dr. Fernandez tells Garza that he can’t testify that Mejia is insane, because Mejia did understand the consequences of his actions.
Garza appears in court before a panel of three judges, who want to know why he intends to use the insanity defense when their psychiatrist has explicitly rejected this theory. Asking for the opportunity to prove himself, Garza wins the right to question Dr. Fernandez to establish bias. Oddly enough, the judges allow Garza to have an impartial psychiatrist examine Mejia. Dr. Lourdes Lyon finds that Mejia experienced a mental break, losing control of his mind. In the moment, he had an “irresistible impulse,” and was unable to function rationally when he pulled the trigger. Meanwhile, Al tries to negotiate with a very stubborn Culver, who claims he’s got four years of documented deception on Mereta and Tim. Al smiles, realizing he’s won the case. There’s a statue of limitation on fraud of three years!
On a break, Garza calls Lucinda, who’s in the elevator on her way to court with the nervous cantina witness, Rosa. Garza tells Lucinda that a cop escort should be waiting for her, but when the elevator doors open, there are none to be seen. Spying Eddie, Lucinda tells Rosa she’ll be right back, just as a group of men grab Rosa. Lucinda and Eddie put up a good fight, but the men get away easily. Eddie wants to tell the judge what happened, but Garza knows they can’t prove kidnapping. The Trujillos have no reason to hurt Rosa, they just don’t want her to testify. Now they’ll have to put Mejia on the stand.
Barely able to talk, Mejia takes the court through his harrowing journey, from finding his daughter brutally slaughtered to trying to bring Trujillo to justice. He honestly doesn’t remember thinking anything when he grabbed the gun – the blood rushed to his head and he pulled the trigger. The prosecutor makes the case that vigilante justice is unacceptable. Garza contends that no man may be found guilty if his actions are the result of irresistible impulse and begs the judges to let him take Mejia home. Back in D.C., Tim and Mereta wait for the results of Al’s negotiation with Culver. Mereta puts on a good face, but when Al announces that he’s negotiated the settlement down to $60,000, she erupts with relief and joy.
Judge Calderon claims that the heart of the court goes out to Mejia, but they don’t believe he was insane at the time of the crime, and there’s no place for vigilantism in the Mexican justice system. Thus, Mejia is guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years. Luckily, they’ve decided to stay his sentence pending immediate deportation. Mejia breaks down, sobbing in Garza’s arms. Back in D.C., the team gathers in a bar, where Crane has just been picked to succeed Garza. Lucinda claims that Garza’s involvement in picking the new justice is all about him being an old guy whose best days are over. What’s he got now besides a big house and a big bottle of Viagra? Overhearing this, Garza quips that there’s a lot to be said for a three-hour erection…
First aired: did not air. Courtesy NBC.