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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Closer Is A Good Example, Except When They're Not

I'm so sorry to have seen the final episode of The Closer this season. I love this show. One of the reasons is that they get the law mostly right. In the summer finale, Fresh Pursuit, they have a scene with an excellent representation of a summary judgment argument. Brenda is a defendant in a suit, along with her department and many others. The judge gets the standard for summary judgment right: they have to show there are no disputed facts, and that under those undisputed facts they're entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The lawyers make arguments that I found sensible and within the scope of a summary judgment argument. Even the plaintiff's lawyer arguing for a continuance based on newly discovered evidence made sense. It was a legitimate argument to make.

My only beef came at the end. The plaintiff's lawyer demands a meeting with Brenda alone in a conference room after the case is over. Then he threatens her, insults her, and says he's filing another suit against her. He knows she's represented by counsel. There's no way Brenda would have gone into that room. She has more sense than that. It was ridiculous. I hope her lawyer files a complaint with the judge and that Brenda files a complaint with the Bar. He needs to be disqualified from handling the case, or at least sanctioned severely.

The rules are clear. If a lawyer knows a party is represented, he can't communicate with them outside their lawyer's presence unless they have permission from their lawyer. The fix would have been easy. He came during a celebration over the case. He could have asked her lawyer and he might have, in a moment of celebratory negligence, said, "Sure, knock yourself out." He wouldn't have, but it would have been better than this. They could also have had the scene with her lawyer and her present, say, outside the station after the celebration. I hope they don't make more mistakes like this next season. It's one of the few shows lawyers can safely watch.

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