Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 8, Episode 10 - Ritual - full transcript

Detectives Briscoe and Logan investigate the murder of Joseph Moussad who is found bludgeoned to death on the top tier of a parking garage. In his pocket he had a flight number and initials of Dr. Ismail Nasser, arriving from Cairo. They trace Nasser's movements and take him into custody. He claims he was here to give Moussad a check up. Moussad's girlfriend Farrah Patel thinks his niece and her husband, Nari and Eric Martin, likely killed him as they were after his money. Their daughter Alison tells Lt. Van Buren that her parents and Joseph had had an argument and her mother subsequently left their apartment. It turns out Emily was lying and it was her father who left after the argument. Eric Martin was angry at her husband's uncle because he had brought Dr, Nasser to the US to perform a female circumcision on Alison. Jack McCoy is not unsympathetic but isn't prepared to let him walk away from the killing. While Jack pursues the prosecution, Jamie Ross goes to family court to have Alison taken away from her mother.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
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.

Man, I'm missing 30 minutes
of commercial-free hip-hop

brought to you by Groove
Master Milo on Hot Mix 98.

Yeah. And I'm missing my
beauty rest. Where's this Beemer?

It's up here somewhere.
Yeah. But you know what?

It's Miss Poletti. That's too
bad 'cause she rocks my world.

Yo! Right here!
Right here. Over here.

So why you gotta tow her?

Does it look like I make the
executive decisions here?

Papers say
snatch it, I snatch it.

I hope she don't got
no alarm on this thing.

Too early in the morning
to be screwing with...

Hey, kid!



He was killed right here.
Blunt force trauma to the skull.

There's some blood on the wall.

Somebody played
handball with his head.

Game time was between
10:00 and midnight.

Did he have a car up here?

No. The attendant's a blank.
Payson's checking the license plates.

No wallet, no car keys.
Just this in his pants pocket.

Looks like Arabic.

Yesterday's date, 3:45.

We got JFK in English.
903 could be a flight number.

Somebody he knew just flew in.

Yeah. Just in
time for the funeral.

Beside the flight info looks
like someone's initials. "I.N."

Anyone on flight 903
yesterday with those initials?

903. Cairo, New
York, LA. Let's see.

Four passengers. Two
booked to Kennedy.

Booked? Do we know if
they actually got off the plane?

My system won't show that.

What would?

U.S. Customs.

Every foreign national fills
out a Customs Declaration.

Length of visit. Local
address. Business or personal.

That's all it takes to get in?

Well, if he came in from
Cairo, he'd need a visa.

Egypt's not on our waiver list.

So where do we get
to see these visas?

No, no, no. The visa's
stamped right on his passport.

You'd have to go to the State
Department to see the back-up paperwork.

Ivar Nabib.

Age 3.

Ismael Nasser.

Age 54. He's at The
Wellman on 57th.

In the country two days.
Says his trip here is personal.

A bald man with an accent?

You tell us.

Mr. Nasser checked
out this morning.

So he booked two
nights and left after one?

How'd he pay? Credit card.

We'll need his number.
Profaci can tag his plastic.

Hey, you wanna
turn that thing off?

I need to turn over the room. A
group from Texas is checking in.

One of those
Broadway tour packages.

Hey, until the Crime Scene
Unit finishes with this room,

one of the Texans
can tour the lobby.

Leave your machine, too.

Is that his bill? Yeah.

Nasser made three local calls
last night. All to the same place.

Mr. Moussad?

Guess Mr. Moussad
doesn't do much entertaining.

Immigrants. Every penny
goes back to the old country.

So, where does he
send his pennies?

Joe told me he was from Egypt.

Joe, huh?

He lived here alone?

As far as I know.

He's been here six years.
He keeps up his rent.

He's our DOA.

You know these people?

Well, that's Joe. I
don't know the woman.

Everything's in Arabic.
These look like invoices.

Here's a letterhead.
Moussad Imports.

Yeah. He was running some
kind of business out of here.

Two messages on the machine.

Mean anything to you?

I barely passed English.

Listen, we're gonna
post an officer at his door.

Anybody comes looking for him,

you give us a call, all right?

Hey, Lennie, check this out.
Preferred money market account.

Six hundred grand.

That's a lot of pennies.

So much for the
folks in the old country.

Who's she? The new
community affairs liaison?

No. What do you have?

Come on, LT. What's up?

Better you hear it from
me. She's my lawyer.

I was up for Captain. One
Police Plaza passed me over.

You're suing the department?

Title VII.

They promoted a white woman
with the same score on the exam.

I have the seniority.

Sorry we asked.

Right. Your turn.

Victim's name is Josef Moussad.

He's got a '96 Caddy
registered with the DMV.

It's not in the garage.
We put out a bulletin.

Somebody killed him for his car?

Maybe not.

Here's Moussad's bank records.

Six hundred grand,
lots of activity.

Wires back and forth
to the Middle East.

And one of the wires was
to our mystery man, Nasser.

Plus trips to Cairo, Beirut,
and Rome just this year.

So am I the only one
here thinking the T-word?

Before we jump to conclusions,

contact Anti-Terrorism
and the Feds.

See if Moussad or
Nasser have a profile.

Was there anything
political in his apartment?

Most of the papers
are in Arabic.

Same with the
answering machine tape.

Well, midtown north
has a guy who's fluent.

I'll have them send him over.

Van Buren. They're
on their way. Forensics.

Looks like a geometry test.

The swab on that slide came from

the bathroom counter
in Nasser's hotel room.

What is it?

Residue of sodium bicarbonate

suspended in an
aqueous solution.

Hey, three airline meals, I'd
be reaching for the Bromo, too.

Glad you're laughing.

Sodium bicarbonate can also
be used as a stabilizing agent.

Home-made explosives?

You got it.


I'll alert ATF. Get
everybody on the street.

A hit on Nasser's credit card.

He checked into The
Markham an hour ago.

This Egyptian guy
some kind of terrorist?

He's a professional surfer.


Rodriguez, hit it.


Clothes. This all
he checked in with?

No. He had two bags.
Where's the other one?

I don't know. He
wouldn't let me near it.

What'd it look like? A
satchel, and it was black.

Did you see him leave?
I've been running around.

When he came in, he asked
me about the Statue of Liberty.

He wanted to know
how late the ferry ran.

I told him to see the concierge.

Rodriguez, call in a
10-45 to Battery Park.

Rapid deployment.

Make it a 47.

I've got 14 field trips
over there this afternoon.

Tell your guy in the booth
to stop selling tickets.

Tell him his boat
just sprung a leak.

I'm not authorized to shut down.

Do it.

Got it. Got it.

Take that line.


Low key, all right?

Excuse me? Is this
the ticket-holders line?

Yeah. It's... Over here, please.

Let go of me!

Police. Let's see what
you got in the bag.

No! I'm an Egyptian citizen!

What's in the bag?

Let go before you hurt yourself.

No. There is nothing in here.

Look, it's...

Medical equipment.

Where you going with
this stuff, Mr. Nasser?

It's Dr. Nasser.

I'm not ignorant of your laws.

You are required to explain
why you have detained me.

One of your countrymen
is in the morgue.

He had your name and
flight information in his pocket.

Has my representative
from the Consulate arrived?

Traffic's murder at this hour.

I am running out of
patience, Lieutenant.

He's on his way
from central booking.

That's what you told
me 20 minutes ago.

It's rush hour.

I'm about to make your
life very unpleasant.

Josef Moussad was my friend.
I came to New York to visit him.

Just to visit? With
a medical bag?

He wanted me to examine him.
He didn't like American doctors.

What was wrong with him?

His heart. He had
a very bad heart.

Why did he wire you
$5,000 last week?

Josef paid for my trip. He
was a very generous man.

How did your generous friend
come into so much money?

He was a businessman. He
imported cotton from Egypt.

Now I must use the telephone.

Not yet.

We found traces of
bicarbonate in your hotel.

People use that to make bombs.

And for upset stomach.

The food on the
plane was very bad.

Let's give these two a minute.

From what you've told me so far,

you can't even
charge a misdemeanor.

Disorderly conduct.

These two were the ones
that created the scene.

Dr. Nasser came 5,000
miles to make a house call.

Before he's here half a day,
his patient turns up dead.

Then he switches hotels.

A felonious hotel
check-out. Come on.

The Egyptian
Consulate's all over us.

We let Nasser go back to
Cairo, we'll never see him again.

He came here to
examine Mr. Moussad.

What kind of a
visa does he have?


INS can detain him for
violating his visa conditions.

It might not stick, but it'll
keep him around for a while.

This is an outrage.

Dr. Nasser is not some
peasant fleeing Cuba

with a Saint Christopher's
medal and two goats.

I'm sure he's a respected member

of the medical
community in Egypt,

but he'll have to be detained
until his visa status is cleared up.

Are you suddenly a
federal official, Lieutenant?

The INS is on their way over.

You can discuss
Dr. Nasser's release with them.

Would you like
some coffee, Doctor?

First message
sounds like a girlfriend.

"Hi, honey. Will you take me
shopping tomorrow? Call me later."

That second message is
a woman named Hamida.

"Hello, Josef. This is Hamida.
Did Dr. Nasser arrive safely?

"Call me to make arrangements."

No number?

I found a Hamida Wazir
in his address book.

"Hamida Wazir. 555-0150.
Apartment 3-B, 68 West 89th Street."

A block from the garage
where Moussad was killed.

He's my brother.

When was the last
time you saw him?

Tuesday night. Josef
had dinner here with us.

Who's us?

My daughter, her
husband, my granddaughter.

What time did he leave?

I don't know.

I wasn't feeling well.
I went to bed early.

A little after 10:00. What
are all these questions about?

Mr. Moussad was
killed Tuesday night.

A block from your apartment.

What happened?

Well, we think he was
on his way back to his car.

He must have just
left your building.

He had a friend visiting
from Cairo, a Dr. Nasser.

You left a message for
your brother about him.

Dr. Nasser was
invited to dinner.

I called Josef to see if
Dr. Nasser would join us.

Dr. Nasser made other plans.

He said he was going
to examine your brother.

He had a bad heart?

Yes. That's right. His heart.

Did he have any business
problems or personal problems?


I don't know.

A girlfriend?

He was seeing a
woman named Farrah.

She lives in his neighborhood.

She killed him. I'm sure of it.

His niece?

Or her husband. The American.

What makes you
so sure, Ms. Patel?

Josef was very rich. The husband
was always asking for money.

Josef would give him some,
then more. It was never enough.

What about Josef's sister?

He gave her money, too.

Did he give you any money?

I don't care about money.

Where were you
Tuesday night, Ms. Patel?

At my friend's.

Why don't you
write it down for us?


Your friend's name and address.

I solved the case
for you already.

Moussad's car just turned up.

Guy in the 23
spotted it this morning.

There were a bunch of
citations on the windshield.

When was the first one issued?

It was Wednesday morning.

The day after the murder.

The keys are under
the driver's seat.

I'll send them over to Latents.

You pop the trunk yet?

Yeah, there's nothing.

I did find this
behind the visor.

Columbus Avenue Garage.
Time stamped in 8:24 p.m.

Night of the murder.

If this is still here, how'd the
car get out without paying?

Yeah, it's one of ours. Supposed
to give that in when you pay.

How'd it get out?

I don't know.

Nothing gets by me.

Yeah. Well, either
you're sleeping on the job

or the dead guy's
car flew out of here.

No chance. Boss can't match up

the other half of the
stub, I get docked.

Unless they used a
key card to get out.

The monthlies get cards and
they got their own gate upstairs.

You got a list of the monthlies?


Eric Martin, the
niece's husband.

He's been parking
there for two years.

Moussad's girlfriend says Martin
was hocking the old man for money.

Can we find out which key
cards were used that night?

No. The system's
not that sophisticated.

It's just a magnetically
activated lock.

Well, maybe Martin
doesn't know that.

Bring him down for a chat.

Money. Why would I possibly
care about Josef's money?

He had it, you didn't.

So I killed him?

We heard you got downsized out of
your copy editor job two years ago.

You moved in with
your mother-in-law.

I freelance now.

You invited Moussad
over that night

to ask him for some
financial assistance.

We had him over for dinner.

And after dinner you
followed him to the garage.

What's the matter, Eric?

You couldn't ask for a handout
in front of your mother-in-law?

This is ludicrous. I
never left my apartment.

Somebody got his car out of
your garage without paying cash.

We checked the
read-out at the garage.

Your card was used just after
Uncle Josef got his head bashed in.

The magnetic card system?

You can't get a
read-out from that thing.

How long will my
husband be here?

It could be a while.

Where's my daughter?

She's having a soda outside.

How long have you been married?

Thirteen years. We met in Egypt.

My husband was
writing a travel book.

He's published?

No. He couldn't find an agent.

Your uncle's girlfriend says
Eric relied on him for money.

That's not true.

But he could have used
a little help that way?

That's why I took a job.

I'm a secretary.

Did your uncle have
any other family?

Just me and my mother.

My father died six years ago.


Wait here a minute.

Are you the one in charge?

I'm in charge of the detectives.

Can you show me where
to get another soda?

Sure. It's this way.

Did you want to tell
me something, Alison?

Is my father going to jail?

Well, we need to find out
the truth about what happened.

Can I talk to him?
Not now, honey.

They had a big fight.

Who did?

My mother and Uncle Josef.

What kind of fight?

A big argument.

Uncle Josef was
screaming at her.

What was your uncle
screaming about?

They speak Arabic. I can't
really understand anything.

Where was your dad?

Just watching.

And your grandmother?

Grandma went to
bed right after dinner.

What happened
after the argument?

Uncle Josef left.

He was real angry.

His face was all red.

Now, this is very
important, Alison.

Did your father leave the
apartment right after Uncle Josef?



My mother did.

Alison knows I didn't
leave the apartment.

That's not what she says.

I don't believe you.
My daughter doesn't lie.

What have you done to her?

I'm not making
this up, Mrs. Martin.

I didn't leave the apartment.

Neither did Eric.

I'd like to talk to my daughter.

What's the matter?

You and your wife didn't
coach her on the party line?

Neither of us left
the apartment.

So your kid's lying?

Am I under arrest? CURTIS: No.

But that could change.

Is my wife under arrest?

Not at the moment.

Then I'm taking my family home.

All they had was the
little girl's statement

that her mother went
out after the victim.

She smashed his head
against the wall for money?

The victim was
sitting on a pile,

the Martins could
use some of it.

Says here, he had
fifty pounds on her.

His friend Dr. Nasser said he was
in poor health and had a bad heart.

I didn't see anything
in the autopsy

about poor health
or a bad heart.

Who said he had a bad heart?

His friend.

His heart could've kept on
pumping for another 30 years

if somebody hadn't
crushed his head.

His friend is a cardiologist.

Dr. Nasser?

You sure he's even a doctor?

He had a medical bag.

What was in it? Voodoo
dolls and sheep entrails?

Here's the inventory.

These are surgical instruments.

So he did heart surgery.

Maybe on mice, not on humans.

And one other thing.

No heart specialist
goes anywhere

without nitroglycerin
pills in his bag.

If you want to know Dr. Nasser's
specialty, why don't you ask him?

Your INS is detaining
him at 26, Federal Plaza.

He won't talk to me.

He told the police
he was a cardiologist.

Yes, Ms. Ross, we have
cardiologists in Cairo.

He lied about
Mr. Moussad's condition,

and the instruments he
had with him were all wrong.

And what do you want from me?

Your cooperation. I want to
know what kind of doctor he is.

We're moving in a circle. The
question has been answered.

If you'll excuse me, I have a
meeting with the Consul General.

What is going on
here? ROSS: Mr. Tobak.

Did you know you owe $36,000
in unpaid parking tickets?

And you have no authority
to compel payment.

You have heard of
diplomatic immunity?

You have it. Your car doesn't.

We can have it towed.
And towed. And towed.

Mr. Tobak assured me we're
now number one on his to-do list.

You make one
heck of a meter maid.

The victim was
in perfect health.

Now where does that
put us with Mrs. Martin?

I have a hard time believing
she had the strength to kill him.

Then why would her
own child implicate her?

Good question.

Go talk to their neighbors.

Is it true the Martins
killed that man?

I was told Alison helps
you out with errands.

Yes. She's very trustworthy.

How does she get
along with her mother?

Mrs. Martin keeps both
eyes on her, I know that.

Hard to blame her.

Even in small things.

Alison bought this
little makeup kit

and asked Kim
Buckner across the hall

to show her how to use it all.

Her mother found out.

She wasn't happy. Oh, no.

She came right out and
yelled at Ms. Buckner.

Called her a slut.

She is, but that's
not the point.

Did you ever see Mrs.
Martin with her uncle?

The one who was killed?

No. And I didn't see
him that night, either.

Did you see either
of the Martins?

I saw Mr. Martin. It
was late, about 11:00.

He was coming up the
steps and into the building.

I want my father here.

He can't be here.

That's why we asked Mr. Wheeler.

He's a lawyer. He
can look out for you.

Now please answer
my question, Alison.

What happened
after your uncle left?

My mother went out.

How long was she gone?

I don't know. I
went into my room.

Do you get along with
your mother, Alison?


Even though she won't
let you wear makeup?

She says I'm too young.

Do you get mad at her
when she's like that?


Is that why you told the police

she left your
apartment that night?

Because you were a
little mad at her? No.

Your dad says
your mom never left.

And you know Mrs. Newman?

She says your dad
was the one who left.

Well, he didn't.

How can you be so sure?

Because I was
watching TV with him.

Where? In the living room.

Did you just tell Mr. McCoy
that you went into your room?

Alison, it's time you
start telling us the truth.

Mrs. Newman was
right, wasn't she?

It was your father who went
out after your Uncle Josef.



Half a million dollars bail is
way out of my client's reach.

If you file for a
bail reduction,

you'll have a fight
on your hands.

I need to be with my family.

It's not gonna
happen, Mr. Martin.

Now if you want to
talk about a plea...

He's not interested
if it keeps him in jail.

Is he kidding? We have a
witness, his daughter's statements,

his fingerprints in
the garage stairwell.

You don't get house
arrest for murder for profit.

It had nothing to do with
money. That bastard...


If there's mitigation,
we're here to listen.

I'll save it for the jury.

Whatever happened, my
client had ample justification.

You're arguing self-defense?

Come to court. You'll find out.

Self-defense? The dead
man imported cotton.

What did he attack
Martin with, cotton balls?

There was no
weapon at the scene.

I just talked to
Moussad's accountant.

In his will, he put
almost all his estate

in a trust for the
Martins' daughter.

He says the Martins
knew about the will.

So much for your motive.

And Mr. Tobak
finally came through.

Dr. Nasser's resumé.
Turns out he's an OB/GYN.

That's a few organs
south of cardiology.


University of Cairo, Royal
Academy of Medicine.

A six-week seminar
at Lenox Hill in '95.

"New laser techniques in
the removal of uterine fibroids."

Hard to believe the
victim had uterine fibroids.

I'd like to know why
Dr. Nasser lied to us.

Maybe for the same
reason his friend got killed.

A Dr. Austin at Lenox Hill
sponsored him for the seminar.

He'd read an article I
wrote in The Lancet.

He called and asked me to
sponsor him for the seminar.

So he's a reputable physician?

My wife and I
went to Egypt in '96.

I called Dr. Nasser. He
invited us to his clinic.

There were a few young
girls in the waiting room,

too young to be needing OB/GYN.

Are you familiar with
clitoridectomy, Ms. Ross?

The surgical removal of
the external female genitalia.

I know what it is.

I thought I did, too.

Until I went to
the Sudan in '94.

I was working with a relief
organization in a refugee camp.

I heard horrible screaming, and
went to see what was happening.

It was a girl, eight
years old, naked,

covered in blood
up to her chest.

Three women were
holding her down.

A man was using a piece
of broken glass on her.

What did you do?

suturing, antibiotics.

I can still hear that
scream in my head.

So you're saying Dr. Nasser...

Well, apparently,

female circumcision accounts for

a substantial part
of his practice.

Now, I'm sure he uses a
scalpel instead of broken glass,

but I still have a hard time
reconciling it with the word "reputable."

It's common in much
of northern Africa,

the Middle East, parts of Asia.

The thought behind it is, if a woman
can't experience sexual pleasure,

she'll remain a virgin until she
marries and won't stray afterwards.

What is this, a
religious practice?

No religion sanctions
it. It's cultural.

And Mr. Moussad
wanted the doctor

to do this to the Martin girl?

Moussad wired him
$5,000, paid his way here.

The kindly uncle.

It explains why the doctor lied.

The procedure violates
State and Federal statutes.

The uncle was going
to kidnap the girl,

take her to the doctor's
hotel and have her...

Martin might've been
afraid it would happen.

What might've happened
doesn't justify homicide.

There was a plan in motion
to butcher his daughter.

Well, was Moussad standing
over her with a scalpel in his hand?

He might have
had other recourse.

From what we know so far, it
might have been premeditated.

A jury will look the other way.

If it gets that far, he'll
have to convince them

there was imminent
danger to his daughter.

He wouldn't have far
to go to convince me.

We're not insensitive to
your situation, Mr. Martin,

but I need a full account
of what happened that night.

Where are we going with this?

If I'm convinced he acted under
extreme emotional disturbance,

I can offer first
degree manslaughter.

Twelve and a half-to-25?

Seven and a half-to-15.

I can't go to jail.

You killed a man.

So what happens to Alison?

She's out of danger.

Moussad's dead,
Dr. Nasser's in federal custody.

Don't you get it? My
mother-in-law wants this.

My wife is doing
nothing to stop her.

Alison is not safe.

You could file for an
order of protection.

We already have. It's temporary.

It's a piece of paper. They know
it's against the law. They don't care.

You can file for divorce. You
can petition for immediate custody.

What judge would grant custody
to a man facing prison time?

I gave you your options.

If the grand jury
indicts, all bets are off.

We don't like your options.

Mr. Martin wants to
testify before the grand jury.

Martin wants a free ride.

He's hoping to
convince the grand jury

to give him a pat on the head.

"I did a bad thing for a good
reason." It's worked before.

It could work again if you
go easy on Martin's cross.

What are you suggesting, Jamie?

Probation? For murder?

I don't know. What
if the grand jury

asks for instructions
on murder two?

I'll give it to them.

He better have a
hell of a story to tell.

I'll need copies of both Martin's
statements to the police for my cross.

They'll be on your
desk first thing.

While you're wrestling
with Eric Martin,

I'm gonna go see what I
can do for his daughter.

The night this happened, I was
supposed to go to a hockey game.

When I got home,
Uncle Josef was there.

I found out he and Alison's
grandmother had paid a doctor

to come from Egypt
to do this operation.

They were going to cut out
Alison's clitoris the next day.

I couldn't believe it.

We started screaming
at each other.

They told me it wasn't
any of my business,

that this was how things
were done in their culture.

The worst part was,
my wife just sat there.

She was just
gonna let them do it.

Uncle Josef left even though
nothing had been resolved.

I went out after him.

I knew where he parked.

He wouldn't listen to me.

He said it was his duty to see
that Alison became a proper woman.

When I heard
that, I just lost it.

I grabbed him and threw him
down against the wall, hard.

I had to stop him.

It was either that
or let him destroy

an important part
of Alison's life.

My wife had this thing done
to her when she was a little girl,

so I know about the effect.

She's always been too embarrassed
to talk about it, even to me,

but I can tell.

She worries that

I'm not satisfied
with our sex life,

and there is a sadness in her

that never really goes away.

Mr. Martin,

when you confronted Mr. Moussad,

did he have your
daughter with him?


She was at home, wasn't she,

in no immediate danger?


When you heard what Mr. Moussad

and your wife's mother
had in mind for Alison,

why didn't you go to the police?

I didn't know it
was against the law.

I didn't know what
my rights were.

Then why didn't you just
take her to a safe place?


You don't know how
determined they were.

So, when you followed
Mr. Moussad, you intended to stop him

from harming Alison forever?

I don't know what
was in my mind.

I had to make him understand

they were not going
to mutilate my daughter.

True bill, first
degree manslaughter.

Make sense to talk about a plea?

Can't do it, Jack.

My client's gotta go for broke.

Martin doesn't blink,
we're going to trial.

Sometimes you don't
get to wear the white hat.

Ms. Ross has filed a
petition in family court

to have Alison Martin removed
from her mother's custody.

Foster care?

Mr. Martin's parents.
They're in their late 60s,

own a farm in Pennsylvania.

She's working pro
bono on their behalf.

Who's her judge? O'Hara.

The one who gave those two kids
back to their crackhead mother?

Who later beat one of them
to death. Yes, that's O'Hara.

She's got her
work cut out for her.

So do you.

I'm a professor of African
Studies at Columbia University,

specializing in cultural
rituals of Northern Africa,

including female circumcision.

Could you describe
the procedure, please?

It varies.

At its mildest, a licensed
surgeon, working in a hospital,

slices away the
hood of the clitoris.

In other cases, Sierra
Leone is a good example,

the mutilation is carried
out in horrific fashion.

Can you be more specific?

Your honor, we're
not in Sierra Leone.

Well, I want to hear
it. Go ahead, Doctor.

The girl is held down.

There's no anesthesia,

no sterile instruments,

nor is there any
post-operative care.

The entire clitoris and
surrounding tissue are removed.

And then the genital
area is sewn together,

leaving a small hole for
urination and menstruation.

Doctor, do you have
any first-hand knowledge

of what this mother intended
to do to her daughter?

No, sir.

Well, this whole thing
sounds ridiculous to me.

We're in the United States.

All the little girl had to
do was run to the police.

Your Honor, you can't
expect an 11-year-old child

to defy her mother
and grandmother.

I see that every day, Ms. Ross,

children full of
defiance, and worse.

And some of them are
a lot younger than 11.

"In small, closed societies,
order and harmony

"are more important than
individual desires or fulfillment.

"Promiscuity and infidelity are
considered destructive forces.

"Female circumcision is
seen as a stabilizing factor.

"When done humanely, there
is no pain, no complications."

How's that for a
counter argument?

This case is a
piece of crap, Adam.

Then drop the charge. You have
absolute prosecutorial discretion.

You know I can't do
that. He killed somebody.

And somebody has to remind
the public it's still wrong to do that.

I know.

I just don't like being the
messenger in this case.

Look on the bright side.

You go to court, you lose,
Eric Martin goes home,

you still made your point.

The public school
in town is very good.

We've checked it out thoroughly.

Alison could transfer any time.

What other activities
would be available to her?

MRS. MARTIN, SR.: There's
hiking. We have a couple of horses.

There's a pool in town.

Why do you think Alison would be
better off with you and your husband?

Well, we don't
plan to mutilate her.

How old are you
and your husband?

I'm 67. Harry's 71.

Both of you are in good health?

Reasonably so.

Harry does chores every morning.

I do aerobic exercises and yoga.

Didn't your husband have an
angioplasty eight months ago

to remove a 70%
arterial blockage?

Yes. The blockage
has not recurred.

And isn't it true, Mrs. Martin,

that you have a family
history of Parkinson's Disease?

Yes. I don't have it.

But you might? ROSS: Your Honor,

she might get hit by
a bus. It's irrelevant.

The age and health of these
people are not irrelevant, Ms. Ross.

We're talking about
who's best suited

to care for an
active 11-year-old.

I look out for Alison. I make
sure no harm comes to her.

When you found out Alison had a
boyfriend and was using makeup,

you were concerned, weren't you?

Yes, of course.

She's too young.

Like any good mother,
you were worried

that she might
become promiscuous?


And you think Alison should
remain a virgin until she marries?


Is she aware of your concerns?

I have talked to her.

So, you rely on
her good judgment.

You trust she'll listen to you.


What about your mother? Does
she trust your daughter's judgment?

My mother is from
a different culture.

And she wanted Alison
to have this operation?


Did you object?

My mother says

it is the only way
we can protect her

and the family honor.

Did your mother protect you
when you were a little girl?


When I was eight.

In a hospital?


Was anesthesia used?


Did you want to have this done?

They don't ask the child.

Then somebody
must've held you down.

Who did that?

My mother

and my aunt.

And who performed the surgery?

A man in the village.

Did they explain to you
that they were doing this

because they couldn't
trust your judgment?

They said it was a
passage into womanhood.

And this is what
you were willing

to have done to your daughter?

Everything here,

the magazines, the television,

it's all sex.

Little girls dressing
like prostitutes.

School girls having babies.
Where are the parents?

I was afraid for her.

What gives you the
right to tell us how to live?

What gives you the
right to ignore the law?

And you pretend
this is a free country.

Why don't we go in here?

In this country, your children
turn out no better than animals.

In this country, you abuse
a child, you risk the penalty.

This is not abuse.
It is a family matter.

We are saving Alison.
By maiming her?

Alison is none of your business.

You Americans think you are
better and smarter than we are.

Mother, she is only
trying to help Alison.

She is not helping. She will
bring disgrace to our family.

This woman will
never understand.

But you know it is true.

All I know is what I have lived
with since I was eight years old.

How could you love me

and do this to me?

I wouldn't stake anything on
Nari Martin's emotional state.

And Judge O'Hara is a real piece of
work. He'd award custody to Medea.

When's he handing
down his decision?


I have to set a
trial date tomorrow.

Let's see if we can pull
a rabbit out of the hat.

You cede custody to
Eric's parents, temporarily.

You plead guilty
to manslaughter.

Six-to-12. It's a
generous offer.

And while I'm in prison,
Alison lives with my family.

I'm her mother.

You could still visit her, you could
have a say in how she's raised.

I'm not sure I want
my wife to have a say.

I promise.

I will never let this
thing be done to Alison.

I don't want your
mother near her.

You have to move

somewhere where
she can't poison you.

Will you give up custody?

We can revisit the
issue every six months.

Do I get a vote
every six months?


Then it's okay with me.

Mrs. Martin?

Can I visit her?

Supervised visits, yes.

I must be supervised
with my own daughter?

Until we're all satisfied
that she's safe with you, yes.

And if my husband didn't go to
jail, would we be able to keep her?

I'm sorry, Mrs. Martin,
this is the best we can offer.

Will you let her go?

And the plea?

I accept my responsibility.

It doesn't mean I wouldn't
do it again, if I had to.

Rough day?

Hold your heads up.

You looked a 3,000-year-old
abomination in the face

and you beat it back.

Only because we heard about it.

How many more out
there we don't know about?

Pick a number.