Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 2, Episode 5 - God Bless the Child - full transcript

After a little girl dies of strep throat, Cerretta and Logan investigate the reasons why and leads them the parents, who belong to a religion where modern medicine is forbidden by it's doctrine. Stone and Robinette look for a way to prosecute them as they protect themselves with their Constitional rights of religious choice.

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.

Please, missus,
call the doctor.

Cora, her
temperature is down.

- She's not getting better.
- Waking her won't help.

A doctor,
an ambulance, 911...

you have to do something.
You're being crazy.

I want you to get your things.
My husband will send you a check.

(car horns honking)

Help! Police!


Help! Help!

Please! Stop!

What do you want, honey?

- Mrs. Driscoll?
- Yes.

I'm Officer Barton,
this is Officer Giordano.

Your housekeeper says
you may have an emergency.

Mrs. Amado
tends to overreact.

Do you mind?
Could we come in and take
a peek at your daughter?

That really
isn't necessary.

We'll just be in and out.
Excuse me, ma'am.

She's been
a little feverish.

Lady, this kid
can't breathe!

- Giordano: 27 Charlie to Central K.
- Dispatch: Go ahead, Charlie.

Did you call it in?

Policy is firm.
Only the chief resident... me...
can call the cops on parents.

Listen, is this kid
going to make it?

Strep, fever 105-plus.
What kind of parent doesn't know
that's life-threatening?

On the record,
the hospital's gonna make
a formal child abuse complaint?

Yes. Neglect.

You can't do this.
I want to take my daughter home.

Mrs. Driscoll, this is
Dr. Fisher, the chief resident.
She won't authorize a trache.

And if I don't
sign an authorization
you can't treat her.

This is Sergeant Cerreta
and Detective Logan.

More policemen?
You're not leaving us
any choice.

You seem like
a reasonable woman.

You want to tell us
what the problem is?

Your husband
here tonight, ma'am?

No, he's in Boston
on business.

You understand,
if the hospital files
a formal complaint,

you could find
yourself in jail.

You can't force me
to let you operate.

Are you serious?
These people are trying
to save your daughter's life.

Right now I am more concerned
about her soul.

Mrs. Driscoll,
let us help Dinah...

You can't help her.
We don't believe in modern medicine.

- You don't believe in it?
- Our religion forbids it.

Nurse on P. A:
Code Blue. ER Pediatrics.
Code Blue. ER Pediatrics.

Dr. Fisher:
Excuse me, miss,
step back.

Let's get her in treatment...
1.8 milliliter FD.

We need a 1/1,000 solution
I.V. Push, now.

Nurse: Failure.

Dr. Baumann:
Let's get a central line in here.
Who's the pharmacist?

- Nurse: Now! Now!
- Baumann: Let's go with
18 watts per second.

- Nurse: Level off.
- Dr. Fisher: Take the mask off.


(brief thump)

Still no pulse.



She wasn't that sick!

She wasn't that sick.

(theme music plays)

So? You want to send it
to Social Services?

It's your call.

The most we can
get her for is endangering
the welfare of a child.

No, no... what we get her
for is manslaughter.

Whoa, Mike. Slow down.
We don't get her for anything,

you don't prove she knew
the kid was seriously ill.

The housekeeper...
what's her name? Amado.

She damn well knew the kid
was sick enough to get two cops.

That'll put the parents
away for sure.

She was fired.
She'll say anything.

Getting fired, you think that's
a reason to lie about the kid?

- Do you believe this?
- Hey, what I think,

what you think, what he thinks
don't mean diddly-squat,

because in court she's not
a credible witness.

The kid died!

Well, well, what's this?
Honeymoon over?

When you finish debating
her state of mind,

why don't you go ask her?

And see what you can find out
about this religion...

"Church of All Saints."

Beautiful child.

Cerreta: You worked
for the Driscolls, what,
three months?

They loved that child.

It was an aura.
It radiated from them.

You never saw people
who loved a child so much.

- When did she get sick?
- Mrs. Amado: Monday morning.

When I came in,
she already had a fever.

Mrs. Driscoll,
she wasn't worried.

She said she was
praying for her.

But you were worried?

My kids, they get sick,
I pray for their souls.

Their bodies, I get a doctor...
Oberon Guzman.

I called him and told him
the fever keeps going up.

Did you tell
Mrs. Driscoll that?

And she told me
that sometimes kids

just had to get sicker
before the Lord heard
their prayers.

You want me to visit
a sick child

when the parent
won't call?

When the child's
dying? Yes, I do.

My malpractice insurance
is already 20 times my rent.

I do not go to any child
against their parents' wishes.

Did Mrs. Amado describe
the girl's symptoms?

Sore throat, high fever,
trouble breathing.

A second-year medical student
could have made

an educated guess
it was strep throat.

Do you consider
that major?


It could lead to rheumatic fever,
heart disease, death.

So, a parent
refusing treatment...

Would have to be stupid,
blind, or negligent.

Or very religious.

(tower bell rings)

Our sect is descended
from the Swiss Brethren,

like the Amish
or the Hutterites.

Except that you don't
use doctors.

We've been around
for 300 years,

long before
modern medicine.

Hold on.
You use electricity,
central heating.

You were around
long before them, too.

Detective, do I really
have to defend

my religious beliefs
to the police?

Are you arresting
Ted and Nancy?

Have they been
in your church long?

Many years.

They were members
when we were out in
Hanover, New Jersey.

They're devout people.

The loss of their
daughter was terrible.

But it is God's will.

Most of us don't mind
a little help from antibiotics.

But some of us do.

Did the Driscolls talk to you
while Dinah was sick?

Ted and Nancy never believed
that their daughter

was sick enough to die.

All you have to do is talk
to them to know that.


It's not that simple.
These people aren't "Moonies."

You go to confession?
You take communion?
They believe as strongly as you do.

That's crap!
How can you compare
these wackos to...


A lot of non-Catholics
believe it's "wacko"
for priests not to marry.

A lot of non-fundamentalists
believe it's "wacko" to take
the Bible literally.

To the Driscolls, losing
this kid's soul is worse
than losing her life.

Except we're investigating
the death of a little girl,
not a soul.

The church doesn't make

The rules are God's,
not ours.

We don't pollute our bodies.
We don't smoke,

we don't use medicine
and we don't use doctors.

So if you're having a heart attack, you don't
call an ambulance?

Is that so difficult
for you to accept?

Excuse me, Mrs. Driscoll,
we have to ask.

Did you consider
calling a doctor?

I should
have prayed harder.

Maybe it's our fault.

It's faith.
That's what religion is.

You call that religion?
Neglecting a dying child?

Now, you see, I call that



We're used to it.
Is that all?

There's just one thing.

You were gone Wednesday
and Thursday?

I had no choice.

Look, we talked
three or four times a day.

Dinah's fever was down,
Nancy thought she was better.

Our prayers were working.

At any time,
over the five or six days,

did you get any help
for Dinah?

Of course we did.

Sharon Barlow,
she's a church medical practitioner.

Do you have
any medical training...

any chemistry, biology,
first-aid, anything?

Church training.
Spiritual healing.

So, then you're what,
a kind of nurse?

You think I don't know
what's going on here, Detective?

Your job is to prosecute
our church.

If you believed what we believe,
you'd understand.

We are trying to find out
what you believe.

Help us out.

We treat the sick
with prayer.

We tried everything
to lower her fever.

We prayed, cold baths,

we fed her,
we used rubbing alcohol.

When we ran out, we called
the drugstore for more.

- Drugstore?
- Which one?

I think I have
the receipt.

Tax deduction, huh?

What'd those people do?

It was rubbing alcohol,
man, not speed.

Hey, look, you
remember them or what?

Oh, yeah.
Guy opens the door,
he's holding a kid.

Two ladies... they're
picking at each other.

All right, so what
did they look like?

This old lady,
she's telling the mom,

"Pray harder,
the kid will get better,

believe in God,"
that kind of stuff.

Start again.
Praying or fighting?

Fighting, man.

Father tells them
to keep it down,

gives the kid to the old lady,
and he pays me.

- But you kept listening?
- I couldn't help it.

The elevator was busted
so I had to take the stairs.

Now, the apartment door
is still open.

Then, the woman,
the young one, she jets by me.

87 apartments.

You think I see everybody
who comes and goes?

How long you been
on this door, Mike?
31 years.

You know what time
every man, woman
and child in here pees.

Thursday, 10:00,
Mrs. Driscoll.

She ran by crying,
face all puffy.

Look, their kid's dead.
They don't need more trouble.

Did you see
which way she went?

Coffee shop
on the corner.

Five foot six? Brunette?

Which one of the four million
you have in mind?

She might've been crying.
The food here, no wonder.

Tuesday night, 10:00,

you see a brunette
in here crying?

- What'd she do?
- Did you wait on her?

I tried to get her to eat
something to stop crying.

No sale. Only coffee...

three cups.
Spiked with bourbon.

Freedom of religion?
That gives you the right
to commit homicide?

The penal law allows
a single affirmative defense

to endangering
the welfare of a child...

- spiritual healing
by an organized religion.
- That's in the law?

In '73, Congress passed
a child abuse bill.

$85 million to the states.

ATW regulations
said any state

without a spiritual healing
exemption didn't get money.

This is unbelievable.
In New York?

And 43 other states.

But the law says, "endangering."
These people let the kid die.

To convict on manslaughter?
Couple of steps... first,
convince the jury

not to apply the spiritual healing
defense to homicide.

Convince them?
Hell, the judge will
just tell them not to.

You know juries.
They'll do whatever
they think is right.

Next, prove the parents
didn't believe prayer would work.

Forget that.
No matter what we think
of their religion,

it's obvious they believed in it
and they believed

their kid wasn't
sick enough to die.

If we could prove it, then
we could prove the manslaughter.

Show they recklessly
caused the death.

Great. So we gotta show
they didn't believe in prayer

and they knew
the kid could die?

Looks like Mom believed
in bourbon more than
she did prayer.

I thought
they didn't drink?

People like this,
they start wondering
if prayer's gonna do the trick.

What happens?
I'll bet you they're
not the only ones

ever called God and got
his answering machine.

If she was upset enough
to break church law on drinking,

maybe she had doubts
about spiritual healing.

How are we going to prove that?
Subpoena her mind?

Maybe she talked to some
of the other church members.

So maybe we do
get a subpoena...

for the church
membership list.

"Your Honor,
forget the First Amendment,
we want a subpoena."

I wouldn't bet the ranch
on that one.

You don't get some
information on these people...

how religious they are,
what goes on in that church...

you don't have a case.

What did that minister say?
They had all been out in New Jersey?

Let's go check out that town.

If they had any doubts
about prayer working,
they're guilty.

Yeah, I know. I know.
It's nice and easy for you
and Robinette and Cragen.

What the hell
does that mean?
You don't have kids.

Look, the adult world
is divided into two groups...

the ones who have kids
and the ones who don't.

You can't understand
what a parent feels.

And I will guarantee you
one thing, they loved that kid.

And if...?

And if they had any doubts
about prayer working
and we can prove it,

I'll be the first guy
out with my cuffs.

I don't trust a man
who never drinks.

But these All Saints people...

must have been 40, 50 of them...
they were good neighbors.

They all moved out, right?

Everyone knew
they weren't gonna stay.

When they came,
they didn't buy houses,
they only rented.

They used an old
farmhouse as a church.

Work, commuting.
The city, Newark, Princeton.

It tells you they're not
gonna put down roots.

Listen, Driscoll...
husband and wife.
Ring any bells?

Nah, but I'm brain dead.


Chief, you got a newspaper
in this town?

Yeah, "Hanover Union."
The county weekly.
It's right down the street.

City cops?
Lt'll make their month.

"Mabel Gardner, 96,
found dead in her living room."

Body wasn't discovered
for three days.

The milkman did it.

Makes you want to move,
doesn't it?

Anymore of this, and I'm
gonna be brain dead.

"Baby died at home."

Daniel Driscoll.
Six years ago. Two years old.

The Driscolls wanted
a headstone.

We have a park-type cemetery...
plaques level with the grass.

It's a neater look,
easier maintenance.

It says here the boy
died of influenza.

Anybody do an autopsy?

Nobody thought
anything was wrong.

"Died at home."

Says the boy is also
"survived by an aunt"...

Eleanor Harding.
She owns the stationery
store in town.

I thought everybody from the church
moved into the city.

Everybody except Eleanor.

"Never showing doubt,
never showing fear.

God's will is supreme."

And if you don't believe that,
you're a sinner.

Another life,
it's behind me.

But there must be reasons why
you didn't move with your brother?

Okay, I'll give you one.

Seven, eight years ago,
I flew with Ted and Nancy

up to Albany
for a church meeting.

We hit a thunderstorm,
got struck by lightning.

The plane dropped 10,000 feet.
I was terrified.

I thought we were all dead
and Ted says,

"We're all in God's hands."

And that made you stay here?

Between you and me,
I trusted the pilot over God.

When Daniel died,
I joined a group.

We lobbied to have
the spiritual healing laws repealed.

Doesn't make
for family picnics.

Did you know Dinah
was sick?

I called Nancy... I pleaded
with her to go to a doctor.

You didn't call
your brother?

When that plane
was vibrating,

Nancy was scared
witless, too.

Are you suggesting
we neglected Daniel?

Having two children die,
it's a terrible tragedy.

It's also terribly long odds.

God doesn't gamble.

What about this fight
you and your wife had?

Our religion asks for spiritual
progress, not perfection.

Would you mind telling us
what it was about?

Did your wife
want medical help?

Whatever my wife wanted,
I don't have to tell you.

That's the law.

The law also says parents
are responsible for their
children's welfare.

I've got five.

I couldn't sit by
and watch one of them die.

You have anything more
you want to ask me,

get a subpoena.

Ted and I had
a mild disagreement.

About Dinah?

Do you have children?

A sick child
can make you anxious.

Anxious enough
to take three drinks?

I thought your church
didn't allow drinking.

I'm fallible.

God isn't.

Did you want
to call a doctor?

Did your husband
stop you from that?

(phone ringing)


Yes, they're here.

I will.

I'll see you later.

My husband
says that if you have
any more questions,

he wants you to call
the Reverend Henry Morley.

Spiritual advice?

No, legal.

He'll give you the name
of our lawyer.

Go to the D.A.?

With what?
We've still got nothing.

She had a couple of drinks.
Her sister-in-law thought

she had enough doubts
to pressure her.

The sister-in-law thinking
she might have had doubts?

That's gonna convince a jury?
Suppose she called a doctor?

Suppose she did.

There can't be more
than 4 or 5,000 in the city.

What do you think, we start
with "A" and go forwards,

or "Z" and work

These people
don't have doctors.

Who would they
even know to call?

How about 911?

Computer printouts
of every call

they promised two years ago.
And last year, and this year.

- And now they promise next year.
- We'll listen to the tapes.

What's the matter,
you fellas can't read?
Check your logs at the precinct.

There's nothing
in the logs.

2,000 calls a night.

At least
they're short.

"Grandma fell down
a flight of stairs."

"Daddy's beating up Mommy."

Car accident.

Boiler explosion.

Want to move
to a small town in Jersey?

They got a nice
police chief there.

Nancy Driscoll?


What about a jury's
common sense?

We can't indict him
and not her.

The mother may be
morally guilty,

but legally
she's got a good case.
She seemed to trust in God.

Paul, I'm not St. Augustine.
I can't make arguments to a jury

about the number of angels
on the head of a pin.

But the moral
issue is in the law.
She keeps her faith,

doesn't call a doctor...
under the law she looks innocent.

Maybe she didn't keep her faith.
She ran from the apartment,
she drank.

Maybe her crisis of faith
drove the husband
into one of his own.

If he'd finished the 911 call,
the girl might be alive.

Would be.
Strep is extremely treatable.

It won't be easy getting
a conviction on either one of them.

Rabbis, priests, ministers...

I'm debating theology
with half the clergy in the city.

Tell them the case
isn't about theology.

Tell them it isn't
about politics either.

- Driscolls seem
like decent people.
- I sympathize with them.

Because they're decent,
it looks like we're putting religion on trial.

The spiritual healing law
shouldn't even be on the books.

Oh, that's beautiful.
Suddenly we find ourselves
in Utopia.

Politics is part
of the law, my friend.

You need reminding,
spend a day in Albany.

Does this mean
we don't want to indict?

You think we have a choice?
Do you?

The mother drinking,
a case of impaired judgment,

the father,
he started to make the call.

If we walk away
from it now,

it looks like we never
should have investigated
in the first place.

Let's go with
manslaughter two

and endangering
the welfare of a child.

But with a lesser charge,
we'll never convict on manslaughter.

What's better?
Half a win or none?

But the logic doesn't play.

If they endangered
the child enough for her to die,

they're guilty of manslaughter. Illinois,
Massachusetts, Florida...

there isn't a DA that hasn't
reached the same conclusion.

Leave both charges
and do us all a favor...

take a plea.

Man two, lifetime probation,
no jail time.

Indictment number 6432...

The People
versus Theodore Driscoll
and Nancy Driscoll.

The charges are manslaughter
in the second degree

and endangering
the welfare of a child.

Are the defendants
ready to plead?

Not guilty.

I'll let you know
right up front, Mr. Robinette,

I don't see a big bail
number here.

One of the charges
is manslaughter.

Yes, I know the seriousness
of the crime.

But I'm looking
at the other factors.
Mr. Carpenter?

We ask the defendants'
release on their own

Counselor, you know
I can't do that either.

Bail is set
for each defendant at 25,000.

The tenets of their church
vis-a-vis doctors are well known.

The Driscolls have been
members for years.

Then why did
your client phone 911?

One moment
of weakness.

You're a Catholic,
do you ever sin?

That's sophistry, Lucius.
I'm not here as a Catholic.
I'm here as a lawyer.

You're prosecuting Ted Driscoll
for making a phone call.

I'm prosecuting
Mr. And Mrs. Driscoll

for recklessly causing
the death of their child

after he violated
his church's teaching.

A child who was born
into their faith.

They want to martyr themselves
to religion, fine,

but they don't have
a right to martyr their child.

Convicting them of manslaughter
won't bring Dinah back.

I want sick children to have
a chance at medical care.

I'd expect this kind
of prosecution

in Arizona, California...

not in the most tolerant
state in the country.

Well, I wouldn't try
that tolerance argument
in court if I were you.

Just once, for a lark,
could you bring me in
on an easy case?

I don't need a psychiatrist
for the easy ones, Susan.

You know
what kind of jury we want?
12 people with children...

preferably all of whom
have strep throat.

Carpenter's shrink...
Seymour Golden.

- Who's Seymour Golden?
- He gets 2,000 a day.

Compared to him,
I'm a bargain.

Have you read about this case
in the papers, Mr. Madison?

- Didn't see it.
- Heard about it
on television?

Like I say,
I didn't follow it.

Do you have any strong
religious beliefs?

I'm a Baptist.
I believe in God.

Thank you.

A Baptist.

You think he'll sympathize
with fundamentalists?

He worries me.
Makes me nervous.

I think he knows
the difference between
church and state.

Keep him.

Guys, trust me.

No challenge.

No challenge.

I have two girls,
six and 10.

Do you believe parents
have the right to care

for children according
to their own customs?

I do.

Knowing what you do
about this case,

do you think
you can be impartial?

I love my children
so much,

I can't imagine
parents who don't.

In fact, I'm pregnant
with our third child right now.

Thank you.

She practically announced
she identifies with Mrs. Driscoll.

I know, but I don't think
she's gonna like them

watching that little girl's
fever go up.

Pregnant mother...
she'll carry a lot of weight
in the jury room.

My research shows
that she is gonna go

with the child
and not the mother.

- No challenge.
- No challenge.

I think the government
ought to keep its nose
out of my life.

Mr. Nicholas, if it were
contrary to your own beliefs,

would you be able
to accept the judge's
instruction on the law?

I understand the difference
between my point of view
and the law.

I'll do what's right.

Thank you.

He's got four kids.

He hates authority.
It's bad for us.

Peremptory challenge,
Your Honor.

Four kids?
What's your problem with him?

It's a peremptory, Lucius.
I don't need a reason.

The tragedy of this case

is the death of Dinah Driscoll, five years

A greater tragedy is that her death
could have been prevented.

The State will prove
that Dinah Driscoll

was ill and in need
of medical care.

We will also prove
that the defendants

denied her that care

and knew its absence
would lead to her death.

During this trial you will hear
a great deal about religion.

Nobody's religious beliefs
are on trial.

What is on trial here
is Dinah Driscoll's death.

Did the defendants violate
their parental duty?

Did they recklessly lead
Dinah Driscoll to her death?

Dr. Stanback,
please tell the court

your profession
and current position.

By training,
I'm an oncologist.

That's a cancer specialist.

And I'm the chairman
of the New York Council
on Medical Ethics.

Have you written works
on the history of medicine?

Yes. I'm the author
of two books on this subject;

"The Healer's Craft"
and "Life Before Death."

Please tell the Court

about the place of spiritual healing
in the history of medicine.

Prior to the 20th century,

people were often desperate
for any relief from pain

and for thousands of years,
naturally, people prayed.

In your expert opinion,
does prayer cure disease?

He's not an expert on prayer.

But he is an expert
on disease.

The witness may answer.

A virus can't hear a prayer

any more than viruses
respond to leeches.

For thousands of years,
bacteria and viruses killed people.

Then we developed sulfa drugs
and antibiotics,

and people lived.

Thank you.

I'd say she had to be
infected for at least a week.

What did you tell
the defendant Nancy Driscoll?

I said if we didn't
clear Dinah's lungs

and get her temperature
down, she would die.

And how did
Mrs. Driscoll respond?

She refused permission
for us to treat her child.

Thank you.

Dr. Baumann,
how long have you been
practicing medicine?

Three years.

Have you seen many
strep infections?

Emergency room,
you don't see them very often.

- Most people...
- So you're not an expert
in strep?

- Please, I'm a doctor.
- Really?

Are you a doctor who can swear
Dinah had been infected for a week?

In medicine, nothing is certain,
but I know exactly...

Thank you.
No further questions.

What did Mrs. Driscoll say
when you suggested she
get a doctor?

She told me Dinah
was "in God's hands."

Tell the Court why you left
the Church of All Saints.

Objection. Relevance.

Your Honor, her experience
with the church's doctrine
is relevant.

Overruled. I'll allow it.
The witness may answer.

I left the church
because I'd seen children die.

Thank you.
No more questions.

You were raised in the Church
of All Saints, correct?


And before you left
the church,

did you believe
in its doctrines?

Isn't it true that four years
before you left the church,

you became ill
and took antibiotics

because you believed
they would save your life?

Yes, that's true.
Prayer clearly wasn't working.

So the real reason you left

is because you didn't accept
the church's doctrines for yourself.

Isn't that right?

No further questions.

It's a winnable case.

Yeah, listen, Carpenter's
ready to deal.

Take a plea
while you can.

Only if they agree never
to participate in spiritual
healing of a kid again.

Does it matter?
They don't have
any children.

I don't care, Adam.
I don't want them

convincing other parents
to let their children die.

All right, but don't push it.
Forget man two.

Settle for endangering.

You're asking them
to turn against their church.

We're offering a plea where they walk away
from manslaughter.

At the expense
of their religious beliefs.

Endangering the welfare
of a child.

However, in this plea bargain
you agree never to participate

in the spiritual healing
of another child.

You can imprison my body,
but not my soul.

You know, when I was growing up,
my parents told me

about the separation
of church and state.

How proud they were
of their country.

Do you live in the same country
I do, Mr. Stone?

Please, reconsider.

They've made their decision.

And I've made up my mind.
I'll see you in court.

I heal with prayer.

- It didn't heal Dinah.
- Her fever went down.

And she died.
Did you ever go to a doctor?

- No.
- Yet you wear glasses.

I saw an optometrist.

Eyeglasses aren't cures for disease,
they're aids to living.

So you believe that poor eyesight
isn't a part of God's will,

but letting a five-year-old die

from something that can be
cured like that is?

I move for a mistrial.
This questioning on religion
is impermissible.


Your Honor,
we're within the limits.


I want this thing
settled quickly.

You'll have motions in my chambers
tomorrow morning at 10:00,

and we'll discuss them at 1:00.

And hold down
the verbiage, okay?

You give me a hundred pages,
I'll be very upset.

Court's adjourned.
(bangs gavel)

Did I misread this?
If you did,
I misread it the same way.

"U.S. V. Ballard."
The Supreme Court says

the truth of their
religious beliefs should not
be submitted to the jury.

I didn't ask Sharon Barlow whether
her beliefs were true... did I?

No, but you did disparage them
with your attitude.

My attitude's
not in the transcript.


You in the clear?

Carpenter's scared.
He knows where your case ends.

If we ever get there.

If we do,
we're gonna lose on Nancy.

It could go the other way.

The father,
they may feel sorry for.

And the mother,
religion or not,

she told the doctors
not to operate...

and she had those drinks.

By the way, Judge Kurland
thinks he's William O. Douglas.

Make your motion simple,
or he'll never understand it.

It's a fine line,
Mr. Carpenter.

And Mr. Stone crossed it.

The spiritual healing defense

does not give you the right
to dissect her beliefs.

That's an interesting
approach, Counselor.

You want your clients
acquitted on the basis

of their belief
in spiritual healing,

but you don't want that healing
discussed in court?

He can ask whether
she believes in God's power,

he cannot imply
her beliefs are stupid.

Your clients aren't on trial
for their beliefs, they're on trial
for their actions.

Their beliefs are action.

Oh, Counselor...

I'm afraid that's nonsense
and you know it.

No, the law allows testimony
on the relevance of faith.

The jury hasn't been asked
to judge the truth of that faith.

Motion for mistrial denied.
We'll resume at 2:00.

On that night, the night
before their daughter died,

did the Driscolls
argue about treating her?

Nancy said that God
had "taken one child from her,"

she didn't think she could
bear it if He took another.

And how did
Mr. Driscoll respond?

I'm not sure.
They asked me to leave Dinah's room.

She... Mrs. Driscoll...
was upset.

After a few minutes, she came out
and he followed her.

- And then what happened?
- They were shouting.

Then the drugstore delivery arrived.
Nancy left the apartment.

Did Mr. Driscoll
return to the child's room?

Not right away.
He went into the kitchen.

- How long was he gone?
- I don't remember.

We offer into evidence
People's Exhibit number 14,

an emergency medical
services tape recording

on the Tuesday night
in question.

And also
an affidavit swearing

that that is a copy
of the EMS master.

And we request permission
to play the tape.

- Judge: Granted.
- Thank you.

- Yes. Hello?
- 911 emergency.

- It's my daughter.
- What's wrong with her?

- She... please!
- What's the problem?

- She's terribly sick.
- Sir, hello?

- She's burning up with fever.
- Is it going down?

- No, it's not going down!
- All right, this is what I need
you to do.

- Nancy: You don't want this.
- Sir, you've got to stay
on the line.

- Sir, are you there?
- (dial tone hums)

Do you recognize
the voice on that tape?

It sounds
like Ted Driscoll.

Thank you.

Ms. Barlow,
there are background voices

and a great deal of static
on that tape,

are you certain
that's Ted Driscoll's voice?

No. As I said,
it sounds like Ted's voice.

If Mrs. Driscoll was there
when he called 911...

Makes your case
stronger for both of them.
Two parents, joint decision.

The housekeeper, Paul,
she hasn't been in court, has she?

And not talking
to reporters.

Go see her tonight.

My friends...

they want me to make
trouble for the Driscolls.

Was Mrs. Driscoll there
when Mr. Driscoll made the call?

I don't hate them.

There's something
you haven't told us, isn't there?

They have so much pain

It was Dinah.
She wanted a doctor.

The child
asked for a doctor?

That night, when
the other lady was there,

I was in Dinah's room.

Dinah says she feels
"so very sick."

Her friend Susie's mom
"gets her a doctor when she's sick,

why can't I get a doctor?"

Mrs. Driscoll told her,
"We don't believe in doctors."

She's a tainted witness.

It is grossly prejudicial,
not to mention it's hearsay.

Two exceptions,
Your Honor.

If he says, "Dying declaration
by the victim of a homicide..."

Calm down, Counselor.
He hasn't said anything yet.

Opinion testimony by a lay
witness on the emotional state
of Dinah Driscoll.

"Emotional state"?
You want her to testify
to what the child said.

Anyway, that's no
exception to hearsay.

Effect of a verbal act
on the parents... statement
not offered for its truth.

You do want the jury
to believe it's the truth?

No shouting
in my chamber.

I don't like it, Ben.
The child obviously can't testify.

Let's face it, it is prejudicial.
The witness is not trustworthy.

Not in my courtroom.

Would've helped
to have gotten it in.

It could've gone
both ways.

He said they didn't
believe in doctors.
But they both made the call.

I don't know.
I think the possibility
of conviction's on life support.

In the history of your church,

have the attitudes toward
spiritual healing ever changed?

We take Biblical
injunctions literally.

Have you witnessed successful
examples of spiritual healing?

- They're all successful.
- Even if someone dies?

Someone lives,
someone dies.

It is all God's will.

The soul is eternal.

Thank you, sir.
No further questions.

Reverend Morley,
does your church's doctrine

ever allow a doctor
to be called?

Only in certain
extreme situations.

And Dinah Driscoll's
situation was not extreme?

If a mother's life
is threatened in childbirth,

midwives or doctors
may be called.

And no other situation?


So if I understand you

when a mother's life is in danger,
a doctor can be called,

but if a child's life is in danger,
it's allowed to die?

- Objection.
- Withdrawn.

Reverend, do you believe
that all religious rituals

should be protected
by law?

Objection. Relevance.

I'll allow it.

I believe that the government
should follow the Constitution

and allow us
freedom of religion.

So that if a church doctrine
called for beating children,

or allowing them
to handle poisonous snakes?

What if a religious ritual
called for leaving children
naked in the snow?

- Objection!
- Judge: Mr. Stone.

Your Honor,
I'm through with this witness.

Mrs. Driscoll, do you blame yourself
for your daughter's death?

I did what was right.

Maybe if I had
a fuller understanding of God,

Dinah would be alive.

Are you planning
to have another child?


If your third child
became sick,

would you go
to a doctor?

Only if spiritual healing
didn't help.

Only as a last resort.

Thank you.

No further questions.

Mrs. Driscoll,
we've heard testimony

that the night before
your daughter died

you and your husband
argued about treating her.

- Is that true?
- We had a disagreement.

Weren't you shouting?

We may have raised
our voices.

And what did you disagree about?

Calling a doctor.

Did Dinah
want a doctor?

She wanted to know why her friends
had doctors and she didn't.

And did you want
to summon medical help?

No one's faith is perfect.

Ted helped me to recover
my sense of faith in God's will.

Answer the question,
Mrs. Driscoll.

I'm trying to, Your Honor.

I was afraid...
and Ted and I talked.

What did you talk about?

- Mr. Carpenter?
- No objection, Your Honor.

The law does not require
that the witness

answer questions
about her husband, Mrs. Driscoll.

You may answer or not.

Ted said he couldn't stand
to see me so upset.

He said he wanted
to call a doctor.

He started to call for help...

and I told him no.

He was putting his soul in danger
to save Dinah's life,

because of my pain!

Just because of me.

To reach a guilty verdict

on the charge of manslaughter
in the second degree,

the jury must find
that the defendants

recklessly caused the death
of Dinah Driscoll.

As to the charge of endangering
the welfare of a child,

I further instruct you
that the Church of All Saints

is a well-established church

and you may not consider
the prudence of spiritual healing.

Now you may consider

whether the defendants, at the time
their daughter was extremely ill,

sincerely believed
in the legitimacy of their religion

to cure illness without benefit
of medical help.

He buried the distinction.

They'll think spiritual healing
is a defense for manslaughter.

Why did he do it?

Eight, nine other state judges
frame their instructions
the same way.

It practically guarantees
acquittal on endangering
and manslaughter.

They should
acquit on endangering.
That's what the law says.

- And manslaughter?
- Stone: You think they'll
understand the difference?

That's not
what worries me.

We know that
technically they're
guilty of manslaughter.

But does the jury
even want to make
the distinction?

The defendant
Theodore Driscoll,

on the charge of endangering
the welfare of a child,

how does the jury find?

We find the defendant
not guilty.

The defendant Nancy Driscoll,

on the charge of endangering
the welfare of a child,

- how does the jury find?
- We find the defendant
not guilty.

The defendant Theodore Driscoll
on the charge

of manslaughter
in the second degree,

how does the jury find?

We find the defendant...


The defendant Nancy Driscoll,
on the charge

of manslaughter
in the second degree,

how does the jury find?

We find
the defendant guilty.

It never ceases
to amaze me.


To weed through
a complicated legal minefield,

get bad instructions
from the judge

and still come up
with the right verdict.

What do you think
Judge Kurland will
give them?

My guess...
they won't spend
a night in jail.

Then what the hell's
the point?

It's on the books,
it got press.

Maybe next week, next month,
three years from now

a parent will call a doctor
'cause they remember
this conviction.

And a child won't die.
That's the point.

(theme music plays)