Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 8, Episode 23 - Law & Order - full transcript

Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate the death of well-known law professor who had just recently been nominated to sit n the appellate court. Maggie Abbott. She was struck by a cab after she darted out into the street apparently running away from someone. They initially suspect her husband, Warren Abbott, who had an affair with Julianne Lowry, one of the interns at his law office. They subsequently learn that a gossip columnist, Philip Marco, is the man Abbott was running from when she ran into the street. Abbott gets a suspended sentence over the incident but when he subsequently shot and killed, they once again look at Abbott and his daughter Laura. When Warren Abbott is charged with murder, his lawyer puts the tabloid newspaper industry on trial. Meanwhile Jamie Ross, who is about to be remarried, once again finds herself in family court when her ex-husband seeks custody of their daughter.

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NARRATOR:
In the criminal justice system

the people are represented by two
separate yet equally important groups,

the police
who investigate crime

and the district attorneys
who prosecute the offenders.

These are their stories.

The regular doorman always lets
me deliver to the front door.

Too bad he's not on duty today.

Hey, look, I'm running
a little late here.

Well, then you're gonna have to hurry
around to the service entrance.

Come on, I'm trying to make a living here.
MAGGIE: Leave me alone!

So am I.
(CRASHING)



WOMAN 1: My God!

MAN 1: Get an ambulance!

I just heard the crash. I didn't
see anything before that.

Okay.

She shot out in front
of me, scared-like.

Scared, huh?
Yeah. Looking behind her.

Looked like she was running
away from somebody.

Did you see anybody with her?

I barely saw her
till I hit her.

Take a look at who it is.

Margaret Abbott.

The Margaret Abbott?
Maggie Abbott.

Oh, my God.
I killed Maggie Abbott.

Found this button on the sidewalk.
It was torn off her sweater.



Aside from the expected
bruises and broken bones,

she had a contusion around her wrist.
Like somebody grabbed her.

Mugging...

She was still wearing a diamond
tennis bracelet on her other wrist.

Pocketbook was found on the sidewalk.
Credit cards, 20 bucks.

Hudson University
Law faculty card.

She was just appointed
to the appellate court.

Looks like she
ran out of appeals.

WARREN: I talked to
Maggie just after lunch.

We'd made plans to go out to
the island early this weekend.

(SIGHS)

She just walked
in front of a car?

It was a cab.
Right.

The driver thinks she may have
been chased into the street.

Somebody deliberately what?

Somebody killed Maggie?

We don't know.

Mr. Abbott, the police
are canvassing the area.

They're doing everything
that can be done.

Your brother's taking the
first flight out of Heathrow.

Did you reach Annie?
No.

I left a message at
the senator's office.

Okay.

I'm sorry.

If the D.A.'s office
can be of any help...

(WHISPERS) Thank you.

Mr. Abbott, if
you don't mind,

there's a couple of things
we'd like to clear up.

All right.

Was your wife having any problems?
At work? At home?

She was busy. It's the
end of the school year.

And then there's the whole circus
surrounding her nomination.

Has she received any threats?
Strange calls?

You mean, did she
have any enemies?

Detective, pick up a copy of the
New York Ledger. The Press.

The right wing
nuts in this town

were determined to
block her appointment.

But do I think they would
have killed her? No.

BRISCOE: What about
your marriage?

If the people who
hated her didn't kill her,

then the people
who loved her did?

Is that what you're asking?

We're sorry, Mr. Abbott, but we have
to ask these kind of questions.

So, you were here
at work all day?

Except for lunch, yes.

BRISCOE: Where'd
you go for lunch?

The Yale Club.

Forgive me, but I want
to see my daughter,

so she doesn't hear what
happened from someone else.

BRISCOE: Thank you.

In just 30, 40 minutes,

this guy's assistants called every
area code in the northern hemisphere.

Well, when you're
through being impressed,

can you connect him up to this?

At the time his
wife was killed,

he says he was
at the Yale Club.

They confirm he came in.
Had a salad.

Couldn't pinpoint the time
or how long he stayed.

And the wife?

As far as we know, she was on
her way home from Hudson Law.

She put up a fight? Anything
under her fingernails?

M.E.'s still working it up.

Maggie Abbott. This one's
going to be a mess.

Lennie.

How you doing?

It doesn't get better.

I can imagine.

Thanks.

Marrying into that family, you
know you're going to be the focus

of a certain
amount of attention.

But recently it seemed
to be getting to her.

We heard she liked
to stir the pot.

Even people who violently
disagreed with her respected her.

What about her relations with the
students, the other faculty?

Romantic attachments?

She wasn't the kind of person
to make that kind of mistake.

What kind of mistake
would she make?

Maggie had a good marriage.

She was ambitious.
Had big plans.

Best legal mind I've
come across in 40 years.

You said that it started to get to her.
Anything in particular?

I don't know. She just didn't
seem like her old self.

"Maggie Abbott,
feminist hypocrite."

Small potatoes.
How about this?

"Bloody Maggie
attacks pro-life rally."

"Bloody Maggie-"

Maggie at the opera.
Leaving some fashion show.

Even at her kid's school play.

Here's a shot of her skinny
dipping off their yacht.

Imagine, everywhere you go,
everything you do.

And if her name
was Maggie Jones?

Here's something different.

"Iron Maggie's broken heart."

"The latest appellate court
nominee appeals to her husband,

"'Leave the interns alone."'

"Phil Marco's New York."

I never read it.

I bet Maggie did.

Tell you the name of the intern?
Are you kidding?

Mr. Marco, we're
trying to solve a homicide.

Yeah. Well, solve it
without my sources.

You got this item
from the intern herself?

Look, I don't have
anything to tell you

about the story or the Abbotts,

or the unfortunate death of Mrs. Abbott.
Now, I have a deadline.

It's going to be kind of hard to
make it from our interrogation room.

Oh, you pull me in
for questioning,

and I run tomorrow's
column blank

with a headline that it was delayed
by a couple of storm troopers

with an uncertain
grasp of the constitution.

It'll be a big
boost to circulation.

So pull me in, Detective.
I would love it.

Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Abbott
isn't in the office today.

I'd be happy to leave a
message that you called.

We didn't come
here to talk to him.

Well, who would
you like to talk to?

We'll start with you.

I don't think so.

This story about
Mr. Abbott and the intern...

Look, I'm busy.

CURTIS: What do you
know about it?

The day I got this job, the first thing
they told me, you know what it was?

Yeah. Don't get pulled in for questioning
about your boss's wife's death.

Now, listen to this. You tell
us, we don't tell anybody.

You don't tell us,
we tell your boss

we have to bring you downtown.

Then you lose your job.

But you can't tell
anyone it came from me.

Julianne Lowry. When the
news got out, she left.

Thanks.

I don't know how
that rumor got started.

How do any rumors get started?

So there was nothing to it?

Mr. Abbott's wife was one of my
professors at law school. My mentor.

She got me the internship
at Abbott, Mitchell and Crowe.

Then why leave, Miss Lowry?

Mr. Abbott said, given what
his wife was going through,

he had to avoid even the
appearance of anything improper.

Do you know how his
wife took that article?

I've gotta get back to work.

Your new job,
clerking for a judge.

That's a pretty big step up for
somebody still in law school.

It's part-time, and I'm
very good at what I do.

Did Mr. Abbott help you
with a recommendation?

If you had an affair
with Warren Abbott,

maybe it had something to do
with Mrs. Abbott's death.

Maybe you could
end up an accomplice.

Did you tell that to Warren?

I didn't think so. You'd
better talk to my lawyer.

You have a lawyer?

I'll get one if I have to.

REPORTER 1: There he is!

Mr. Abbott?
REPORTER 2: Come on. Let's go!

Checking back in?

What are you talking about?
The suitcases.

REPORTER 1: Come on, guys!

Reporters were camped outside.

Yesterday I stayed at a hotel.

You sure it wasn't
more like two weeks ago?

When the news broke about
you and your intern friend?

We can check with the hotel.

Maggie and I both
decided to go to a hotel.

You both stayed there?
We can check that, too.

You do whatever you have to.

I'm not quite done.
About you and this intern...

She's a child, for Christ's sake.
Now, I'm done.

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

The staff at the hotel
remember Mr. Abbott.

But they don't
remember Mrs. Abbott.

Do they remember Miss Lowry?

No. But room service put a couple
of dinners for two on his tab.

Unless it was champagne and strawberries,
I wouldn't jump to any conclusions.

My hunch is we're looking
at a Staten Island divorce.

Wham, bam, no muss, no fuss.

A guy like that?
A place that public?

You think he'd take the chance?

It's more private
than the Oval Office.

M.E.'s report, nothing
under Mrs. Abbott's nails.

But there was chlorine residue
on her skin and hair.

Swimming pool?

Well, she had a gym card in her wallet
a block from where she was killed.

Hmm.

I can't believe it. She worked
out with Matt until 2:00

and then she did her usual
20 laps in the pool.

What happened?
She leave alone?

I didn't see her leave, but that
weenie from the Ledger, Phil Marco,

was in here
looking for her earlier.

The gossip columnist?

We get a lot of celebs.

Last month we found him sleazing
around here for a story,

trying to sneak
a photographer in here.

When he asked for Mrs. Abbott, did
he say why he wanted to see her?

No. But he asked if I'd
like a 20 to let him in.

You take it?
Of course.

You let him in?
Are you kidding?

He was out of here real fast.

Not his choice.
I can be very persuasive.

I hope you're finished.
MARCO: Just...

A warrant? Am I under arrest?

You're a material witness in
the death of Margaret Abbott.

Put that in your column.

All right. Let me
get this straight.

I ask to talk to
somebody at a gym,

and this somehow makes me involved
in that somebody's death?

You're involved because you forgot to tell
us that you were at the somebody's gym.

You talk to Mrs. Abbott
when she came out?

She was dodging my phone calls.

Once more. You talk to
Mrs. Abbott when she came out?

No. I left before.

BRISCOE: What'd you
want to talk to her about?

I wanted to confirm something I
was gonna run in Sunday's column.

CURTIS: What? Look, I
don't have to tell you.

Where did you go
when you left the gym?

I grabbed a cab, headed
down to the Trattoria.

I had a lead on another story.
Much bigger, believe me.

You want to tell us about that?

Bebe Vaughn. She was giving a birthday
party for her hairdresser's niece.

She'll confirm that
you talked to her?

I couldn't get through Bruder. Her manager.
Alan Bruder. A real Visigoth.

Marco? Yeah. He slithered in.

CURTIS: What time?

We got there at 2:00, I don't know.
It might have been a half hour later.

Sit down.

Can't pin it down, huh?

No. It's a zoo.

Between the fans, paparazzi,
and Bebe's people,

a little too busy
to watch the clock.

How did Marco seem?
Unctuous. Vicious.

He owes me. I saved his life.

Bebe would've torn his eyes
out if she'd seen him there.

That popular, huh? He ran
a piece she was pregnant.

You know, he'd get something off
the Internet, off a toilet wall.

Doesn't bother to confirm anything
if it's close to deadline.

He's afraid somebody else
will run with it first.

So he seemed okay to you?
Nothing out of the ordinary?

Yeah. Except for the piece of
tissue paper on his shaving cut.

Doesn't usually
wear that on his cheek.

I don't know about you,

but I don't usually shave in a taxi
in the middle of the afternoon.

Well, Marco could've gotten
scratched by her tennis bracelet.

All those diamonds have sharp edges.
(CELL PHONE RINGING)

Curtis. Yeah. Lennie,
hold on. It's Mallory.

Yeah?
BOY: Hey, mister.

Talk to me.

BOY: Throw here!
BRISCOE: Uh-huh. Hmm.

Yeah. Right. Thanks.

What's up?

Mallory's snitch
claims that the drug dealer

Danny Jones put out
the hit on my daughter.

Tell me something I don't know.

What the hell am
I supposed to do?

One step at a time, Lennie.

Yeah. Over the edge.

I cut myself, so what?

We found blood on Mrs. Abbott's bracelet.
You want us to go further?

My client wants to cooperate.

We're listening.

I met Maggie Abbott
outside the gym.

She was still angry about the piece
on her husband and his little intern.

CURTIS: Was it true?

I had a deadline.

We walked, talked.

About what?

An unwanted pregnancy.

You can read about it if I ever
get out of here to confirm it.

You talked?
Like what, old friends?

Not quite. I told her I was going with the story.
That's when she slapped me.

She turns to go.
I try to stop her.

I grab her sweater. She pulls
free and runs into the street.

Taxi hit her.

And what did you do?

I got scared and ran off.

At worst, my client is guilty of
harassment in the second degree

and assault three.
Nothing more.

Marco's facilitating himself.

VAN BUREN: Anything else going on
between Marco and Mrs. Abbott?

Oh, if she promised him an
exclusive and then reneged,

he might have
thrown a hissy fit.

So he threw her into traffic?

She was good copy for him.
More valuable alive than dead.

So what do we do,
take him at his word?

Let him go with
a slap on the wrist?

Not necessarily. Look, if there
was a pattern of harassment,

if he was stalking her, there might
be something we can prosecute.

He's responsible
for my wife's death?

BRISCOE: That's what we're trying to determine.
If he was stalking her...

He was stalking us!

He was in front of the
building every other day.

He'd track us
down to restaurants.

He must've been
paying off waiters.

Once he showed up
at one of my wife's classes.

Because of this affair?

Alleged affair.

The Abbott name sells papers.

Dad, I'm home.

Laura! Hi, honey.

I got pizza.

Just stick it in the oven. I'll be right in.
As soon as I'm done.

Sorry, Dad.
No. It's okay.

Did Marco ever make any threatening
remarks to you or your wife?

I took everything he said
as a threat to my family.

He told us he was working
on a story about a pregnancy.

That's why he approached your wife.
An unwanted pregnancy.

Well, whose pregnancy was it?
Your wife's? Miss Lowry's?

What a load of crap.

Nothing to it, huh?
That's right.

You working for the Ledger now?

Marco was responsible, directly or
indirectly, for my wife's death.

What are you going
to do about that?

So what if he calls
himself a journalist?

He doesn't have a First Amendment
right to chase her into traffic!

I admit he's a pest.

A pest? He tore her sweater!

Isn't that assault?
JACK: Or self defense.

He got a cut on
the cheek from her.

Reporters and stalkers,
the line gets blurred.

There's nothing
legit about Marco.

The guy's got
a criminal record.

Harassment, criminal nuisance,
even breaking and entering.

He hunted Maggie Abbott down.

His lawyer offered a plea of
harassment two, assault three.

He'll pay a fine for chasing
a woman to her death.

Her choice to run. See if they'll make a deal.
First Degree harassment.

B misdemeanor, max he
gets 90 days, suspended.

Is that so?

Freedom of
the press at any cost.

That should generate
some nice editorials.

Can't have too many
friends in the media.

Especially at election time.

Lay off.

The attacks on Adam
are getting personal.

Feldman accused him
of prosecutorial Alzheimer's.

I don't know
about you, but I know

I don't want to be working for
Gary Feldman come November.

By the time we got to 61st Street,
Mrs. Abbott was pretty upset.

She slapped me.
Ran into the street.

I grabbed her sweater.
I tried to stop her.

She went right in
front of the taxi.

I got scared.
Took off.

That's it. I'm sorry.

Are the People satisfied?

Yes, Your Honor.

Then, in accordance
with the plea agreement,

I'm sentencing you to 30 days
suspended sentence,

four weekends
community service,

a $5,000 fine,
and two years probation.

We're adjourned.

Three shell casings
a few feet from the body.

Nine millimeter.

The shooter stood close.
He didn't want to miss.

UNI: Where were you going?
ZAREM: I was on my way

to Morean's when
I heard the shots.

How many did you hear?
Three.

POP, pop, pop, like that.

You see the shooter?

By the time I got to the corner,
all I saw was Marco, lying there.

BRUDER: Bobby!

(CHUCKLES) Hey,
what happened here?

Phil Marco got shot.

Dead? No kidding.

Yeah.

Give the people what they want.

A standing ovation.

Yeah. Don't worry. We took down
all their names just in case.

There's an obvious
place to start.

Assuming Warren
Abbott is that stupid.

Or that angry.

Whoa! Check the box
next to stupid.

Nine years ago, Abbott got a
carry permit for a nine mil.

That get us a search warrant?

If he's the only citizen
with a permitted gun.

Guess you guys will have to find
that gun the old fashioned way.

My gun? I haven't seen my gun
in the last four years.

Last place being where?

I'm not sure. I'll have
to think about it.

Well, why didn't
you report it missing?

I didn't say it was missing.
It's just misplaced.

CURTIS: Why'd you get
it in the first place?

I was litigating
a case against Local 904.

I was advised to get some
personal protection.

Advised by who?

Local 904.

So where were you last night?

Well, I wasn't outside
Morean's shooting Phil Marco.

You know, that's exactly what
we thought you were gonna say?

How about telling us
what you were doing.

I was at Julianne Lowry's.

The intern you weren't
having an affair with?

Makes me a hell of
a son of a bitch, huh?

She helping you
get over your wife?

Why don't you ask her?

And if I find that gun,
I'll be sure to let you know.

He came over about
7:30. We talked.

Until what time?
2:00 or 3:00.

He didn't want to stay all
night because of his daughter.

She's home from school.

How thoughtful.
What'd you talk about?

His wife, us, I don't know.

Phil Marco?

Not really.

About a story Phil Marco was working on?
An unwanted pregnancy?

No. Mr. Abbott didn't get
you pregnant, did he?

No.

Because that would give him another
good reason to shoot Marco.

Look, what Warren
likes me to do,

you can't get
pregnant from. Okay?

Okay.

Now, if you'll excuse me.

Strike two.

Be nice to know who was
feeding Marco his info.

The Kennedys, Trump, Madonna, the
Giffords, the entire tabloid hit parade.

Here we go. Abbott. Separate
folders for Warren, Margaret,

the whole mishpocheh.
Not a lot of notes.

Maybe Marco didn't want to
be confused by the facts.

Well, he already knew all about
Warren's favorite hobby.

What's this entry here? F.
Howard and a number. And Laura.

Yeah. Frank Howard. He's married
to one of Warren's sisters.

Some kind of tree-hugger.

Oh, yeah. He helped
clean up the Hudson.

Maybe he liked to
dish the dirt to Marco.

I have no idea why
he'd have our number.

Neither Frank nor I would
ever take his calls.

Well, somebody did.

His phone records show that he called
your number the night he was murdered.

Oh. He called Betty's
number. Our daughter.

Why would she talk to Marco?

She was in her room with
Laura, Warren's daughter.

Warren was stuck
downtown on business,

God knows what, and he asked if Laura
could spend the evening with us.

Did she spend the evening?

She left just before 9:00.

Right after Marco's call.
Do you know where she went?

I don't know.
She seem upset?

Laura's high-strung. Her mother's
death hit her very hard.

I didn't want her to leave.

BRISCOE: Why not?

Two years ago she
tried to commit suicide.

I was afraid she might
do something to herself.

You know if
she's been pregnant?

No. Of course she hasn't.

You're assuming?

She's been on the pill
since she was 14.

I think I would have heard
something from my daughter.

Laura's on the pill, and dad's
girlfriend is a technical virgin.

That brings us back
to Mrs. Abbott.

So she had an abortion.
No big deal to her.

Who said anything
about an abortion?

Well, Marco just said his story
is about an unwanted pregnancy.

Do we know if she was
pregnant when she was killed?

I spoke to the M.E.

Maggie Abbott had a hysterectomy
right after her daughter's birth.

How do we know exactly when?

Well, the procedure
that was used,

a Spalding-Richardson,
is no longer done.

It's no longer taught.

Last time Rodgers saw
it was back in 1982.

And even then it
was pretty rare.

So no unwanted
pregnancies since.

Are you saying the unwanted
pregnancy was the daughter?

Yes. Unwanted if
Abbott's not her father.

What's this?
Nothing else fits.

Beautiful.

Motive evidence straight
out of the tabloids.

And how about
means and opportunity?

You getting that
from the comic books?

Warren Abbott has an alibi.
The girl doesn't.

She had access to
her father's gun.

Marco called her, probably
told her what he knew.

Right. Keep in mind this is
Warren Abbott's daughter.

His friends have deep pockets.

Not a constituency I
can afford to alienate.

Make sure he's in the room
when you question her.

Have the police pick her up
and notify Warren Abbott.

Jamie Ross?
Yes?

It's Neal again. He's pulling me
into court over Katie's custody.

Marco didn't say much.

Just that he had some
information about my mother.

What sort of information?

I don't know.

He said it was important.

Your aunt said you
were upset, Laura.

Of course she was upset. Her mother's
dead because of that bastard.

Mr. Abbott, we'd rather hear
what your daughter has to say.

ROSS: Why were you
upset, Laura?

Mr. Marco said we had to meet
to talk about my mother.

I didn't want to.
I tried to hang up.

But he started to say stuff that was
wrong, so I'd try to correct him,

and all of a sudden
I was talking to him.

If the son of
a bitch weren't dead...

Did you meet with him?

I was going to but
I changed my mind.

Why?

I just did.

Where did you go?

I went home.

I watched some videos
and then I went to sleep.

She was asleep when I got home.

Did you know that
your father owns a gun?

See, that's it.
This is exactly what I mean.

Mr. Abbott... This is how
you prosecute cases?

By running head
games on young girls?

If you want to
help your daughter,

encourage her to
tell the truth.

Isn't that why you went home,
to get the gun?

Don't answer that, sweetheart.

Arlen, we're done.
We're done.

If you leave now, Mr. Abbott, I will have
no choice but to arrest your daughter.

What!
On what evidence?

Her whereabouts
are unaccounted for

and she had access to the same
caliber weapon that killed Marco.

And she had a motive.

What motive?

Marco was about
to publish a story

about an affair
her mother had...

Stop right there.

I want my daughter
to wait outside.

Come on. Go on.
It's all right.

My daughter has been
traumatized enough.

She doesn't need to find out from
you I'm not her real father.

It's true?

There was a teaching
assistant at Hudson Law

when Maggie was
pregnant with Laura.

Big crush on Maggie. Unrequited.
He had a wild imagination.

He started this story.

Laura called me.

She told me Marco wanted to meet
with her to discuss these rumors.

I told her to go home.

I shot Marco!
I'd do it again!

What if he's covering
for the daughter?

He's not covering for his daughter.
He thinks he can beat it.

And you're confident he can't?

I have his confession.

Incomplete confession.

And a room full of lawyers
who charge $500 an hour.

A plea offer, Adam,
for cold-blooded murder?

Marco contributed
to his wife's death

and he was ready to humiliate
what's left of his family.

Murder two, 15-to-life.

ROSS: His friends will be grateful.
ADAM: Hope so.

Feldman's talking
about an October surprise.

We make this deal
and Marco's colleagues

will give Feldman
all the press he needs.

Who reads the papers anyway?

(SIGHS) This looks like fun. Motion
to suppress Abbott's confession.

I was expecting that.

That's just the appetizer. Then
we have a dozen other motions,

to introduce Marco's
employment records,

gossip columns,
criminal record.

Mostly just
throw-away arguments.

A smokescreen. Brief it all.

I got a custody
hearing at 1:00.

I'll get started.
Go kick Neal Gorton's ass.

There's absolutely no
basis for suppression.

Mr. Abbott confessed
freely and voluntarily.

At the time he
wasn't even a suspect.

His daughter was.

Arlen, if I may...

My daughter was
facing a murder charge.

I was desperate to protect her.
I spoke rashly.

That goes to weight, Your
Honor, not admissibility.

If Mr. Abbott wants to repudiate his
confession, let him do it on the stand.

Your Honor, this so-called confession
was an off-the-cuff remark,

made in the heat of passion.

If you let it in, we may as
well go straight to sentencing.

I'm going to let the jury decide this
one, Mr. Levitt. The confession's in.

What's the next item
on this laundry list?

LEVITT: Mr. Marco's
criminal record.

Completely irrelevant
to the charges.

As are the victim's work
records, his writings.

It's res gestae, Your Honor.

Mr. Marco's own work set
the stage for his death.

The jury should hear about it.

How much of his work
are you seeking to introduce?

Everything. I want to put his
whole career before the jury.

It's a ploy, Your Honor.

The motion papers limited
themselves to acts that took place

starting two weeks prior
to Mrs. Abbott's death.

Now Mr. Levitt
wants to extend it.

Your Honor, I should at least be allowed
to explain all the circumstances

that led to
Mr. Marco's death.

All the relevant circumstances.

Why not let the jury
sort it out?

(SIGHS)

Please, Your Honor, give me
some chance to defend myself.

This one's yours, Mr. Levitt.
I'm granting that request.

That was a gift.
(SCOFFS) Whatever.

About your offer of 15-to-life,
thanks, but no thanks.

You have another
number in mind?

Any time away from my
daughter is too much.

You take a plea, the
circumstances of her birth

won't be splashed
across the tabloids.

Don't be naive. The blood's
already in the water.

It's just a matter of time.

It's no plea, Mr. McCoy.

It's your funeral.

REPORTERS: Mr. Abbott...

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

I was Marco's editor ever since
he came over to the Ledger.

He wrote a daily gossip
and human interest column.

Daily? That's a lot
of gossip, isn't it?

Well, the public has
an insatiable appetite

for stories
about famous people.

You say there was a lot of
competition to get the hottest item?

You have no idea.

So Mr. Marco was under a lot of
pressure to come up with stories.

That's true of any journalist.

And certain people,
certain families,

like Mr. Abbott's family, are
targeted, isn't that right?

Targeted is a loaded word.

Well, in the last
year didn't your paper

publish 538 stories
about Mr. Abbott's family

including his siblings, his
spouses, his uncles, his cousins?

And not because they discovered
the cure for cancer.

Well, if the public has a particular
interest in certain people,

yes, we tend to give
them what they want.

LEVITT: Thank you.

Now, in this highly
competitive business,

what limits, if any, did you impose on
Mr. Marco in his pursuit of stories?

He had to adhere to the accepted
standards of journalistic ethics.

Really? Such as following a
subject, that's acceptable?

Yes.

And taking pictures,
also acceptable?

Yes.

Taking pictures
of their children?

If it's newsworthy.

Spying on them in their
homes using telescopes?

As long as they don't trespass.

Going through their garbage?
Yes.

Invading their privacy?

As I said, as long as
they don't trespass.

Defense eight.

This is a deposition

given by a hotel
maid in a lawsuit

brought by Mr.
Abbott's nephew,

Gregory Abbott,
against the Barrington Hotel.

In it, the maid
states that Mr. Marco

bribed her to let
him into the suite

in which Mr. Abbott's
nephew was staying.

Now, did you discipline Mr. Marco
for taking such action?

No.
No.

Well, then, I ask you
again, what limits, if any,

did you impose on Mr. Marco
in his pursuit of stories?

Would none be
an accurate answer?

Miss Sanger?

It's all right, Your Honor.

She doesn't have to answer.

Miss Sanger, this is a
copy of your paper.

From two years ago, yes.

People's 19.

Would you describe Mr. Marco's
column from that day?

The highlighted item?

Mr. Marco reported a rumor
that a Borough president

had charged the city for an
intricately carved mahogany headboard

as a gift to a woman,
not his wife.

A rumor?

Yes. At the time.

But it resulted in an
investigation, isn't that right?

Yes. It uncovered a systematic
abuse of city funds.

The Borough president
was forced to step down.

So, a rumor in a gossip column

resulted in serious
political consequences.

For the Borough
president, certainly.

How did Mr. Marco
uncover his story?

He went through the Borough
president's garbage.

If we were to operate
under a slew of restrictions

all we would ever print
would be press releases.

Thank you.

When you have no case,
attack the victim.

Especially when the victim represents
everything that's wrong with journalism.

The public still remembers a
mangled car in a Paris tunnel.

If they don't,
Levitt'll remind them,

with Marco's criminal record,
his writings...

It should have
all been suppressed.

Sorry to do this
to you again, Jack,

but I've got to meet
my lawyer in 15 minutes.

Neal's driving me up the wall.
He claims if I get married,

Katie'll spend more time
with David than with me

because of my long hours.

If you get married?

He's got a judge convinced Katie'll be
better off with him than with David.

So it's David or
the job. No-brainer.

LEVITT: Dr. Neustadt,
you hold the Wilson chair

at the Columbia Graduate School
of Journalism, is that right?

Yes, sir.

Are there any generally accepted rules
that govern legitimate reporting?

Of course, as there
are in any profession.

Could you tell
us what they are?

Well, before you file a story,
you make sure that any fact

is confirmed by at
least two sources.

And if it's a controversial
story, at least three or more.

Do you ever pay these sources?

Absolutely not.

What about reporting
on private lives?

If it affects the story, yes.
Yes, you can go with it.

But if it is just gossip?

Then it's just that. It is gossip.
It's not journalism.

Eavesdropping,
telephoto pictures?

Some tabloids
use these methods,

but they debase the profession.

They create a tendency to focus on
trivia like a politician's intimate life

rather than his policies.

That is not news, that's noise.

It's licentious.
It corrupts journalists.

Thank you.

Dr. Neustadt.

Who makes the rules
governing journalists?

Well, no one makes them.
They're customary.

Well, then, who decides
when the rules are broken?

Reasonable men and women can
agree on reasonable restraints

to irresponsible journalism.

In your courses, do you teach
the work of Ida Tarbell,

Lincoln Steffane,
Upton Sinclair,

and more recently,
I.F. Stone?

Yes, I do.

And isn't it true that all of
them published exposes about,

for instance, the meatpacking
and oil industries,

which at the time were widely
regarded as irresponsible?

Yes, that's right,
but history has shown

that these journalists were
in fact acting responsibly.

Oh. History.

And how can we be sure that
history won't be equally as kind

to a reporter like Mr. Marco?

Well, we can't.

And aren't there
generally accepted responses

for someone who doesn't like
what he reads in the newspaper?

Letters to the editor?
Lawsuits? Yes.

Would you say that murder was one of
the generally acceptable responses?

Of course not.

But there are countries where journalists
have been shot for what they've published.

Yes, but we have a free press,

and the whole point
of the First Amendment

is that no one can
control the press.

Thank you.

Defending Marco
makes my skin crawl.

Levitt's backed us into a corner.
I know how he feels.

Yesterday, The Observer ran
a squib about me and Neal.

I feel sorry for Abbott's kid.

"Abbott's secret's out!"

"Abbott's struggle to
survive Marco smear."

"Lovesick teacher's aide started wild
rumor about Maggie's love child."

Let me see that.

What?

Dig up all the clippings
you can find about Abbott.

WARREN: My daughter's had counseling,
but emotionally she's fragile.

When Mr. Marco called her that night,
asking to meet her, she called me.

She was in tears.
I went to see Mr. Marco.

My wife was dead.

There was no reason for him to pursue the
so-called story of my daughter's birth.

I asked him to leave her alone. He refused.
I offered to pay him.

He said that'd make
an even better story.

I told him it could drive my
daughter to commit suicide.

He didn't care.

He tried to leave.
I grabbed him.

He said he'd love
for me to hit him.

He said he'd get it
on the front page.

That's when I shot him.

I didn't mean to kill him. But, God
help me, I wanted to stop him.

I couldn't let him do to Laura
what he'd done to Maggie.

Thank you very much.

You recognize this?

Yes. That's an article about
my daughter's sweet 16 party.

People's 21.

Did the photographer and
reporter sneak into your house?

No. I invited them in.

Why, if you treasure
your privacy so much?

It was better than having them
climb trees and jump fences.

People's 22.

This profile of you appeared in a
national business magazine last year.

You allowed the reporter
to observe you

spending an intimate evening
at home with your family.

Isn't that right?

Yes. I remember that.

Didn't this article coincide

with the opening of a branch office
of your firm in Los Angeles?

Objection, Your Honor. I fail
to see the relevance of this.

Objection overruled.

Yes. The article
happened to coincide

with the opening of
my Los Angeles branch.

Is it fair to say
that you've managed the news

and used your private life
to advance your career?

Absolutely not.

People's 23.

Do you recognize this?

Yes. It's an article
about the smear

directed at my daughter and
my late wife's reputation.

An article arranged by you?

Absolutely not!

You had nothing to do
with its publication?

Nothing.

The article refers to a rumor started
by a lovesick teacher's aide.

Other than you, how many people knew
about the origin of this rumor?

I have no idea.

Do you have a publicist?
Yes.

I use her to clarify and correct
stories that appear now and then.

Isn't it a fact that your
publicist contacted

the reporter who
wrote this article?

Your Honor, Mr. McCoy has
no right to attack me,

to attack my private behavior.

Please, Mr. Abbott.

To be dragging my
private life into this.

He's no better than that
son of a bitch, Marco.

The right to free speech is not more
important than the right to privacy,

the right to be left alone.

Which one of you would like to be
secretly photographed while sunbathing?

Or while on your honeymoon? Or
coming home with a newborn baby?

Mr. Marco pursued Mr. Abbott's
wife, he hunted her down,

until she ran in front of a taxi.
And what did the State do?

A rap on the knuckles,
and let him go.

Let him go to hunt
down Laura Abbott.

He set her in his sights as
surely as if he held a gun.

Now, Mr. McCoy
has pointed out

that there are ways to respond

to what you read in the press.

Letters to the editor.
That's all fine.

But Mr. Abbott was
facing life and death.

His daughter's life and death.

No time to write letters.

Mr. Abbott shot Mr. Marco. But he
did it in the heat of the moment.

Mr. Marco provoked my client.
He drove him to fire that gun.

Of course, people
should be protected

against gross invasions
of their privacy.

There should be limits.

But there must also be
constraints on what a man can do

when his privacy
has been invaded.

Even when his family's
privacy has been invaded.

Now, you may like Mr. Abbott
and sympathize with him.

And you may
not like Mr. Marco.

From what I know of Mr. Marco,
I don't much like him.

And I don't much like
what he was going to do.

But that cannot be a justification
for what happened to him.

We may not like
tabloid journalism

and the cult of
celebrity that it feeds.

The hunger for fame over virtue,
for gossip over integrity.

To us it may seem an unpleasant,
miserable, disgusting game

with which we would prefer
to have nothing to do.

But Mr. Abbott
participated in it willingly.

It was only when it
turned against him

that he took out his
gun and shot Mr. Marco.

We may not want a world
in which celebrity and gossip

are all mixed up with news.

It's messy.

But our society
can survive the mess.

What it cannot survive without

is the free and easy
exchange of information.

All kinds of information.
Even if it's unpleasant.

Even if it's irrelevant.
Even if it's just gossip.

We sort it out
and we blunder on,

but we blunder on free.

The only alternative
is a world in which people,

if they're smart enough, rich
enough, powerful enough,

likable enough,

can stop the truth
from being told.

Warren Abbott shot Philip
Marco to shut him up!

With premeditation.
In cold blood.

Because he didn't like what
Mr. Marco was going to write.

Has the jury reached a verdict?

Yes, we have, Your Honor.

JUDGE: On the first count of the
indictment, murder in the Second Degree,

how do you find?

The jury finds the defendant,
Warren Abbott, not guilty.

On the second count
of the indictment,

manslaughter in
the First Degree,

how do you find?

We find the defendant
not guilty.

On the third count
of the indictment,

manslaughter in
the Second Degree,

how do you find?

We find the defendant guilty.

(INDISTINCT CHATTERING)

Man two, seven years max.

Want to give odds he
doesn't do even that?

I see Abbott isn't trying to prevent
the press from doing its job today.

Today, it's news.