Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 8, Episode 7 - Blood - full transcript

Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate the death of Kate Burdette who jumped - or was pushed - out of her apartment window. They initially suspect suicide but the crime scene unit confirms she was thrown off the balcony. Her husband Josh dismisses suicide at first but then confirms that she may have been depressed over giving up their three week old daughter for adoption. He says they gave her up because he didn't want children, but when the police learn the baby is African-American, they begin looking for her boyfriend. The fact is that Josh Burdette is actually African American but has passed as white all of his life. Even his first wife - to whom he was married for 19 years - denies ever knowing he was black. ADA's McCoy and Ross soon realize they're on the wrong track and prosecute the person they are sure is responsible.

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.

Honey, your leashing
is too slack. Shorten up.

I said shorten,
Ryan. That's better.

Never had any complaints
about my leashing before.

Don't worry. I'm a master at
teaching old dogs new tricks.

Oh, my God!

Decedent is a female, blond,
early 30s, name of Karin Burdett.

Looks like she fell, or
jumped from the building.

Her place on the 18th
floor has a balcony.

Who ID'd her? The doorman.

Says her husband is president
of some drug company.

Did he see her fall?

He says he was on a break.

Excuse me, is
Mr. Burdett around?

I called upstairs right when
it happened. He wasn't in.

What time was that?

11:45 or so.

He might have slipped back in while
I was on my break. I better check.

You notice what time
he went out this morning?

No, I must have missed it. I might
have been on a break then, too.

Three breaks in one morning?
You must have one hell of a union.

What I have is a prostate
condition. Oh, wait, there he is.

Let him in,

Mr. Burdett, we're
with the police.

Yes, what's wrong?
What happened here?

I'm afraid it's
about your wife, sir.

My wife? I was just at the
pharmacy getting her prescription.

Karin! Take it
easy, Mr. Burdett.

There's nothing you
can do for her now.

Take it easy. All right.

All right. Sit over here.

Come on.

We got you. You're
gonna be okay.

All right, you
just try to relax.

We're gonna come back and
talk to you in a minute. All right?

Guy is president
of a drug company,

and he still has to schlepp to
the drugstore like the rest of us.

What do you think she
needed? Happy pills?

I hope he got some for himself.

It's Desyrel. An anti-depressant.
Karin had a bad night.

What time did you
leave this morning?

About 10:00.

The pharmacy doesn't deliver?

They said it would
take two hours.

Was your wife expecting anybody?

No. She'd taken
some sleeping pills.

She was groggy. She was
in no shape to see anyone.

Mr. Burdett, did she
ever talk about suicide?


Clemente, what have you got?

Latent pulled some
nice prints off the door,

and over here on the railing.

This where she went off? Uh-huh.

Looks like she stumbled
around, knocked over these pots.

Hey, Lennie.

Well, we got sleeping
pills, broken flower pots...

And we got this.


It's used to stop lactation.

So where's the baby?

Mr. Burdett,

these Parlodel for your wife. Do
you know why she was taking them?

She gave birth to a
girl three weeks ago.

Is the baby staying
with someone else?

We gave it up for adoption.

Well, how did Mrs.
Burdett feel about that?

It was understood
when we were married

I didn't want any more children.

I have a teenage son
by my first marriage.

When Karin got pregnant,
we discussed it again.

In the end it just
didn't make sense.

She had two partially digested
Halcion tablets in her stomach.

She was feeling pretty good.

Good enough to
make it over a railing?

She might have managed it.

You said she was
taking Parlodel?

That's right.

The panel didn't pick
up any in her blood.

She hadn't taken it
for at least three days.

It takes that long
to clear the system.

So she stopped taking them. Maybe
they were upsetting her stomach.

Or she was getting ready
to take the baby back.

What's that?

You're jumping ahead.
It's an abraded contusion.

Back of her right wrist.

From the fall?

From having her
arm twisted, hard.

He's fifty-seven
years old, Lennie.

How would you like to
do diaper duty again?

Yeah, if that happened
to me, I'd jump off the roof.

Look, she would have fought
back. There'd be marks on him.

She was too doped up to fight.

You talk to Burdett's pharmacy?

They remember he was there, but
they don't know when or for how long.

Still, it's a ten minute trip
he says took him an hour.

One vote she was pushed,
one vote she jumped.

Van Buren.

Could you hold on?

See if forensics
can break the tie.

And could you close
the door please?


Mrs. Van Buren?

No. I heard she took the Captain's
exam. Usually means a transfer.

Just when I was getting
used to her sunny disposition.

We'll do another drop,

but so far we keep
getting the same results.

If we just drop the
dummy, it lands in the water,

56 inches short of
where your victim landed.

What if she had pushed
off the rail when she jumped?

Gets her maybe a
foot closer to the target.

She needed a nice big
shove to land where she did.

So much for
May-December romances.

It's enough to make me a cynic.

You know, Lennie, Karin
Burdett's obstetrician

was the one who prescribed
the anti-depressant.

She must have gotten an
earful about the adoption.

I spent a grand on a
malpractice seminar in Curaçao.

Besides finding out
I'm too old for Mai Tais,

I learned never to
talk out of school.

Your patient is
dead, Dr. Frieder.

I doubt she'd mind if
you violate her privilege.

Her estate might.

You mean her husband?

He's the murder suspect.

Well, if it makes you
feel any better, Doc,

patient chit-chat
isn't privileged.

That includes anything non-medical
she might have said to you

about wanting to
revoke the adoption.

She had been very ambivalent
all along about giving it away.

She had 30 days after the
adoption to change her mind.

I don't know if she
took any legal steps.

Did she tell you how
her husband felt about it?

No. But I don't think
he was very supportive.

He didn't even show
up for the ultrasound.

Too much going on at work.

Do you know which
adoption agency they used?

They went through a baby
broker. I don't know his name.

Well, who did you hand the
baby off to after the delivery?

I wasn't at the delivery.

What, another
surf-and-sand seminar?

I was right here. They were in
Trenton, New Jersey. At City Hospital.

A public hospital?

Sure, I remember the Burdetts.

Our patients don't usually
pay with a platinum card.

And a very close,
loving couple they were.

While she was delivering
the baby, he's on a cell phone.

Half an hour after
that baby's born,

a lawyer shows up in
a limo and signs it out.

So you'd have his name and
number in the Burdetts' file.

Yes. That's where we
keep confidential information.

Oh, come on. You show me his
number, and I'll show you mine.

And I guarantee, you'll
have more fun with me

than I'm gonna have with him.

I don't think so, Romeo.

Last week, a young woman came in here
wanting to get in touch with the Burdetts.

Who was she? I don't know,

but she didn't get
anything out of me either.

And she was a whole lot
cuter than you. Excuse me.

I knew it.

So what do you think?
The adoptive mother?

Well, if she got word Karin
Burdett was making a move

to get the kid back...

Remember Baby M?
That got very nasty.

Yeah, but they don't give
babies back to dead people.

We got to find these parents.

We can try to get the
adoption papers unsealed.

By then, the kid will be
getting her first hickey. Oh, Miz.

Our lawyer said that no one was
supposed to know who we were.

- How did you guys...
- His car service.

They drove him
here with the baby.

And the hospital told us you tried
to contact the biological parents.

I didn't know we were
breaking any laws.

Why were you looking for them?

We waited five
years to get a child.

I wrote them a
letter to thank them,

and to let them know that
Maggie was in a good home.

Mr. Tooley wouldn't
pass it on to them.

So I found out where
Maggie was born.

Did you ever talk
to the parents?

No. The hospital wouldn't
give me their name.

Where were you
last Sunday morning?

We were at a friend's house in
Astoria Park with Ellen's parents.

They were visiting from Indiana.

We'll need to
talk to your friend.

Why? What's going on?

The baby's mother was
found dead last Sunday.

Oh, my God. What happened?

We're not sure.

Anyone ever tell you that she
wanted to revoke the adoption?


I can't believe this.

Excuse me.

Do they want Maggie back?

The mother might have.

We don't know about the father.

Well, 12 more days and
it's official. She's ours.

I don't think you have anything
to worry about, Mr. O'Brien.

We can't even remember what
life was like without her. It was...

Isn't she beautiful?

Hello, baby.

It explains a lot, Mr. Burdett.

The hospital in Trenton, the
lateral pass to the baby broker.

Whatever difficulties
Karin and I had,

we worked out
like civilized people.

Let me get this straight.

Your wife cheats on you
with... What's his name?

I don't know. She
wouldn't tell me.

Okay, so she gets pregnant.

Now, you don't kick her out,
you don't slap her around.

You even let her have the
baby. Because you're so civilized?


Nobody is that civilized, Josh.

Yeah, all right, maybe if it was
one of your country club pals.

But she was sweating up the sheets
with some big good-looking black stud.

That can really piss
some people off.

You that kind of
people, Mr. Burdett?


If she gets the baby back,
everybody is gonna know.

Stop it.

She was playing Scarlett O'Hara

with Mandingo!

Enough. That's enough.

I did not kill Karin.

Now, I've said
all I want to say.

I came here voluntarily.
Now, I'm leaving.

If you want to talk to me
again, contact my attorney.

This guy could keep
snowflakes in his mouth.

Well, if he killed
her, it's probably not

the first time he
laid a hand on her.

You check with
the local precinct?

Yeah. No record
of domestic calls.

We asked the neighbors.
The walls are thick.

They wouldn't have heard him
if he shot her out of a cannon.

She have a job? Yeah.

Resource Development at the
Shuman Foundation for Women.

It's a charity.

Well, if it's anything like this place,
everybody knows her business.

I do know she and Mr. Burdett were
having some problems over her pregnancy.

You mean, they had
arguments? Physical arguments?

God, no. I didn't mean to
give you the wrong impression.

I just overheard a phone call.

She was pretty furious.

What did she say?

I just heard a little.
She said something like,

"It's your baby. It's damn time
you took responsibility for it."

Maybe not those exact words.

Are you sure she was
talking to Mr. Burdett?

Well, I assumed it was him.

Could it possibly have
been someone else?


You mean...

No, not Mrs. Burdett. I would have
picked up on something like that.

Who would have figured in an office full
of women, she kept her affair a secret?

You'd expect she'd put a
star next to her rendezvous?

Depends how good her
boyfriend is. Here we go.

Ian Fraser, Esquire.
Matrimonial Law.

She was fooling around
with a divorce lawyer?

No, I think this was business.

She had an appointment
with him two weeks ago.

Maybe she chose
the baby over Burdett.

"Morris Keach, Vice
President of RLH Contracting

"and Co-Chairman of the Saint
Vincent Children's Foundation."

Here he is accepting a $10,000
check from Karin Burdett.

And here he is sharing a cocktail
with her at a Foundation luncheon.

If they were any cozier, he'd
be sharing his pants with her.

And he's the right complexion.

We got friendly last year, when I
solicited her Foundation for a grant.

She called me up
and asked me to lunch.

Just like that? Out of the
blue? What did she want?

Best I could figure,

she wanted to talk about
my kids. I have three.

She wanted to know what
it's like raising them in the city.

She was looking for a
good nursery school?

No. Raising them
as African Americans.

What kind of problems
they might run into.

She was thinking of adopting
an African American baby.

Actually, Mr. Keach,
she gave birth to one.


You think I'm the
father? That's nuts.

Look, Mr. Keach, you got yourself
in a jam. We can understand that.

And Karin Burdett
wouldn't let you off the hook.

She expected help with the baby.

Now I know you're nuts.

Yeah? Where were
you on Sunday morning?

I went running at the
reservoir. This is unbelievable.

I did not sleep
with Karin Burdett.

So prove it to us.
Take a paternity test.

I want to talk
to a lawyer first.

He'll tell you we
can get a warrant.

Well, then get one.

Until the adoption is final, the
O'Briens are a little gun-shy.

That's why they asked me to
talk to you about this paternity test.

It's very simple.

The police think whoever killed
Karin Burdett is the baby's father.

They have a suspect, they'd
like to establish paternity.

What's in it for the O'Briens?


Isn't doing your civic
duty its own reward?

It's a headache they don't need.

Mr. Brody, we're talking about a
small blood sample from the baby.

So you can determine that
her father murdered her mother?

Little Maggie already has
more baggage than Greyhound.

She's got inherited megaloblastic
anemia. She's got asthma.

The O'Briens' cup runneth over.

We feel badly for them,
but we have a situation.

Well, let me talk to them.

Ross is getting the big
stall from the O'Briens.

Keach's lawyer won't let him
go anywhere near a needle.

Can you bust his alibi?

He was running by himself.

We showed his picture around the
reservoir. Nobody remembers him.

Toss it back to the D.A. Let
them worry about the paternity test.

Actually, there might be another
way to hook up Keach to the baby.

The kid has an inherited medical
condition. Megaloblastic anemia.

So either Karin Burdett or Keach
would have had to pass it on.

The M.E. said whoever passed it on
to the kid would be taking medication.

Large doses of folic acid.

Well, here's the inventory from
the Burdetts' medicine cabinet.

Folate, one milligram tablets.

Wait a minute, that's not right.

This prescription is made
out to Joshua Burdett.

He's the father? He's black?

Maybe the pharmacy
made a mistake.

Or maybe he's taking
it as a supplement.

I heard it's good
for thinning hair.

Burdett has an ex-wife, right?

Ask her if he has anemia.

Yes, Josh has the condition.

We were worried that he
might pass it on to our son David,

but we were lucky.

Mrs. Houston, far as you know,

what's your ex-husband's
ethnic background?

Burdett is an old
Anglo-Scottish name.

And his mother, I
think, was French-Italian.

Did you ever meet his relatives
or see any pictures of them?

Josh was an only child, and his
parents died when he was very young.

What are you getting at?

His late wife gave birth to a
baby with megaloblastic anemia.

The baby was part black.

That's... Oh, what
about Karin's parentage?

Danish. About as
white as you can get.

Excuse me.

David, would you and Veronica go
upstairs please, until I'm finished?

Thank you, honey.

You saw my son. He's not black.

And neither is Josh.

I'm sorry, Mrs.
Houston, but this baby...

Karin was unstable.

I called Josh that
Sunday morning.

He had to go out
and get her some pills.

I could hear her
screaming like a banshee.

She was capable of
anything with anybody.

We've already
been down that road.

Josh is not black.

I was married to him for
nineteen years. I'd know.

Your lawyer is on his way in.

To pass the time, let's talk about
you volunteering a blood sample.

For what?

A paternity test.

You and that baby you can't
run away from fast enough.

That's ridiculous.
I'm not the father.

Well, you both have
the same anemia.

So do thousands of other people.

First I killed Karin because
she had a child by another man.

Then I killed her
because she had my child?

Because she wanted
to keep your child.

And because everybody in your
just-us-white-folks executive suite

was gonna find out
you're black, Josh.

That's absurd. I
mean, look at me.

I want to talk to him.

Hello, my brother.

Damn, look at you.

You did it. You passed.

You know, I thought up close I'd
be able to tell, but I swear, I can't.

So what's it like when
it's just you and them?

You laugh along when
they tell the jokes?

Oh, you know what
I'm talking about, right?

Or do you tell nigger jokes,
too, just to keep up appearances?

If you don't mind.

Oh, am I sitting too close? What, I
remind you of somebody? Your mother?

Was she dark-skinned?
High yellow?


You're scared now, aren't you?

You been scared
for almost 40 years.

And all that fear came
gushing out Sunday morning.

You panicked. Isn't that right?

You go ahead. Tell
me what happened.

Take the weight off, my
brother. You'll feel better.

I'm Mr. Burdett's attorney.

You mind telling me what
my client is doing here?

We're arresting your client
for the murder of his wife.

Take him down to booking.

Josh Burdett,
you're under arrest.

You have the right
to remain silent.

Anything you do say can and will
be used against you in a court of law.

You have the right
to an attorney...

It seems he had
everybody fooled.

His whole life was a
charade. It's pathetic.

Maybe 30, 40 years
ago it made more sense.

Back then they had
lynch mobs and bullwhips.

Now they use toilet
plungers. Progress.

You confirmed that he's
the father of this child?

We're just waiting for a
blood sample from the baby.

What else? Weak alibi.

Forensics to establish
the manner of death.

His motive being that he didn't want
anyone to know he was black. Why?

Shame, loss of
friends, his work.

I can just imagine
what he was afraid of.

Don't imagine it. Prove it.

Madeline's phone number.
I promised her you'd call.

Ross. Yeah.

Since when?
We'll get right on it.

That was Curtis.
The adoptive mother

has disappeared with the baby.

I don't know where they are.

She left without telling you?

What's it to you?

They can come and
go as they please.

That child's paternity
is evidence in a murder.

I'm her father.

You're crazy if you think I'm gonna
help you to prove Burdett is anything.

Why? What are you worried about?

If Mr. Burdett turns out
to be the biological father,

it gives him legal standing
to revoke the adoption.

His wife wanted our baby
back. Maybe he does, too.

Who told you that?
Was it Mr. Burdett?

Did he threaten you
or pay you to do this?

The paternity test could
help convict Burdett of murder.

No judge will ever grant
custody to a murderer.

Tell that to the Simpson kids.

Mr. O'Brien, I have a court
order for the paternity test.

I can compel you to tell
us where your child is.

What are you going to
do, cite him for contempt?

His position is, he doesn't know

where his wife and
baby are. Period.

We need that test.

We need to turn up
the heat on O'Brien.

If he's getting
paid off by Burdett,

he's on the hook for a
lot more than contempt.

I'll get Briscoe
and Curtis on it.

Then talk to Burdett's employers.
Let's nail down his motive.

You can't be right, Ms.
Ross. Josh is a straight arrow.

If he says he's
white, he's white.

He checked white
on his application.

I thought it was illegal
to ask an applicant's race.

It is now. That was filled
out in 1963. The bad old days.

What if he'd said he was black?

He was hired as a sales
associate in our Richmond office.

The market was southern
doctors and pharmacists.

The application would
have ended up in the trash.

And now? If the company found
out he was African American?

Now? Hell, we'd probably
put him on the board.

Cheaper than Colin Powell.

You're wrong about Josh. I've
known the man for twenty years,

and I never saw any hint

he was anything but
what he said he was.

What kind of hints
were you looking for?

Well, for example,

there was a young black man a
couple of years ago. Shawn Taitt.

A real comer Josh
put under his wing.

Then one day, he's gone.
Josh had enough of the attitude.

Everything was
"black this, black that."

Mr. Burdett fired him?

And get us sued?

Josh promoted him
to our office in Duluth.

One sub-zero winter, and
Taitt got the idea. He quit.

Mr. Burdett told your colleagues
you had an attitude problem.

Maybe that's what he told
them, but we got along fine

until I found out he
was from Knoxville.

What, you don't like
people from Knoxville?

I told him I had family there.

And they knew a Burdett family.

A black family. Mmm-hmm.

A month later I was
shipped off to Duluth.

Did you suspect why?

Mmm-hmm. He was passing.

You could have sued.

Why make trouble for the man?
He's a whole other generation.

I can just imagine
what he went through,

being a black kid in
Tennessee in the '50s.

That's the fourteenth Burdett
I've spoken to in Knoxville.

Not one of them will
claim Josh Burdett.

What about birth records?

They're in the Knox
county clerk's office.

They're working on it,
but it might take some time.

There's nothing in his personal
records either. No birth certificate,

no relatives in his
address book, no photos.

The paternity test might be
our only way to prove he's black.

What's happening
with the O'Briens?

The police haven't found
any pay-offs by Burdett.

But they turned up this check.

Leonard Hillman, Esquire.
Twenty thousand dollars.

Burdett wrote it a week
before his wife died.

Hillman specializes in
employment discrimination claims.

Yeah, he sued this
office two years ago.

So, what does a white male executive
need with a civil rights attorney?

I'll ask.

By the way, how'd
it go last night?

With Madeline? She's bright,
attractive, funny. As advertised. Thanks.

You're welcome.

In case you're wondering, she
thought you were charming, passionate.


About your work.

She said you
mentioned Claire Kincaid.

Because Madeline's brother
spent three months in the hospital

thanks to a drunk driver.
I was not obsessing.

Don't worry. For some reason
she'd like to see you again.

Yes, Mr. Burdett came to see me.

No, I can't tell you
what we discussed.

Fine. So let's discuss
my problem, Mr. Hillman.

Just so happens in my spare time
I'm president of a large company.

Go on.

This company doesn't hire women.

So I've mislead my employers and
the shareholders by claiming I'm a man.

And they fell for
it? Hard to believe.

Can I be fired for that?

As a general rule, misrepresentations
not material to your work

are not grounds for dismissal.

So if they fire me for lying
about my gender, or race,

they're liable for a claim
of wrongful termination?

Yes. But in the hypothetical,

most executives are employed
under personal services contracts,

which have standard provisions for
termination for acts of moral turpitude.

Such as lying. Yes.

But, again in the hypothetical,

that could put your considerable
stocks and pension benefits at risk.

You charge the average executive
$20,000 to talk about those risks?

No, what Joshua Burdett
paid me is a retainer.

'Cause he thought he
was about to get fired?

Because his company was about
to find out he's African American?

I can't comment.

Burdett has a retirement
package worth over $8,000,000.

With stock options,
it's double that.

We're in the wrong business.

Burdett concluded it'd
be cheaper to kill his wife.

Except he paid the
lawyer a retainer.

The lawyer as much as told me
that Burdett and his wife had decided

to get their baby back.

There goes his motive.

Why do you always give me
bad news while I'm digesting?

If it's true, why
didn't Burdett tell us?

Is there somebody
he's trying to protect?

He has an ex-wife
and a teenaged son.

Even if Burdett was willing to
take the heat for his decision,

maybe they weren't.

Will you please find out what they
were doing that Sunday morning?

I'll get this.

Frances Houston,
Burdett's ex-wife,

said she called
him in the morning,

just before he went to the pharmacy.
That's confirmed by her LUDs.

We got calls on her
line and on her son's,

roughly 20 minutes before
and after Mrs. Burdett was killed.

They live about 10
minutes from the Burdetts.

So either of them
had the time to do it.

But look at these.

LUDs from last week. Ms.
Houston got a 12-minute collect call

from a convenience
store in Hobart, Indiana.

The adoptive mother, don't
her parents live in Indiana?

Yes. Look at the next
call Ms. Houston made.

Western Union.

I doubt she was sending
birthday greetings.

Ms. Houston wired $3,000 to a
Mrs. Teresa Gaydos in Hobart.

She's your
mother-in-law, isn't she?

Mr. O'Brien, hindering
prosecution is a felony.

If you don't cooperate now,
today, I will prosecute you.

You and your
wife will go to jail.

You will lose
custody of your baby.

Mr. McCoy...

I mean it!

People who get in the way of
my murder cases get run over.

He tells you what he knows,

you don't press charges
against him or his wife.

Let's hear it.

Ms. Houston came to us
before Burdett was arrested

and she said, "Watch out.
Burdett didn't kill his wife."

She said once he clears himself,

he's gonna fight
us for the baby.

She told us to take Maggie out of
state. She even offered us money.

Did she say why
she was doing this?

I can't understand how an
educated woman like her could say it,

but she said

she didn't want "some nappy-haired
little monkey" ruining her family.

Now you don't think he killed
his wife? Thanks for telling us.

The bad news is, we might charge
him with hindering prosecution.

Prosecution of whom?

The police identified
the fingerprints

found in your bedroom
and on the balcony.

They found yours, your
wife's, your housekeeper's,

and your ex-wife's.


She paid the O'Briens to
take the baby out of state.

We think she killed your wife.

Anything you want
to tell us, Mr. Burdett?

Uh, excuse us.

For now, whatever my client
tells you is off the record.

Let's hear it.

Before we were married, I
told Karin about my background.

It was our secret. But the
pregnancy was a mistake.

We argued for weeks
about terminating it.

We finally agreed
on the adoption.

But after we gave up our
baby, Karin became so unhappy.

I loved her, she
wanted our child back,

so that's what we decided to do.

That Saturday, I told my
son the truth about everything.

The next morning,
Frances called me.

She said David was angry
and behaving erratically.

She begged me to reconsider.
I said our mind was made up.

I didn't know what to think
after Karin died. I called Frances.

She said Karin was dead
and we had to protect our son.

She told you your
son killed your wife?


No, not in so many words.
But that's what I understood.

That's why I misled the police.

I discussed your
offer with Ms. Houston.

I explained that prosecutors
don't just like to beat the other guy.

They want him to
limp off the field.

No wiggle room, Ms. Joyner.

Manslaughter one,

or she goes on
trial for murder two.

Then you won't like my counter.

Second degree
manslaughter, minimum time.

That's unrealistic. We've got her
prints, her pay-offs to the O'Briens.

I said man two, minimum time.

Do you really want to put your
son through a trial, Ms. Houston?

Let her worry about her son.

Frankly, Ms. Joyner, I'm
surprised you'd represent a bigot.

I don't see a bigot here.
I see a woman deceived

and pushed to the brink
by a self-hating coward.

Everyone at my firm
agrees, Mr. McCoy.

No jury will ever convict her.

This trial is about a baby.

A child of white and
African American parents.

Karin Burdett bore it.
She wanted to raise it.

That's why she's dead.

The evidence will show that

Frances Houston knew
Karin Burdett was home alone,

that she struggled with her,
and pushed her off of a balcony.

That she bribed a witness.

That she did all this
because she didn't want

her narrow-minded
circle of friends

to know that she had once
been married to a black man.

Because, as she stated in the
vicious vocabulary of racism,

she didn't want a
"nappy-haired little monkey"

ruining her good name.

Mr. McCoy wants you to
believe that my client is a bigot.

Well, I'm here to
tell you she's not.

She's a realist. She knows
what goes on in America.

You'll hear that educated black men earn
far less than their white counterparts.

That black men are denied
the access, the promotions,

the memberships
given to white men.

That black men are routinely
harassed and brutalized by the police.

That's what my client
was thinking about.

She wanted to
preserve for her son

the protection the word
"white" afforded him.

She didn't want him
to have a lesser life,

because the word "black" had
been added next to his name.

If, at the end of this trial,

you believe that my client
caused the death of Karin Burdett,

please understand it was not
the premeditated act of a racist,

but the unintentional
act of a mother

desperate to save
the son she loves.

She didn't do it
because she's a racist,

she did it to protect
her son from racists.

It explains their witness list.

social scientists.

You got to admit, that's
some mitigation defense.

Something for every prejudice.

The white jurors wouldn't want
their kids growing up black either.

And black jurors
because they know

that the playing
field isn't level?

If I were the defense, I wouldn't
count on much support there.

How many whites on
the jury? More than one?

That's all Ms. Houston
needs for a mistrial.

If the jury
disregards the facts.

Fine, you win their minds,
she wins their hearts.

I'm not ready to
concede anything.

All we have to do
is convince the jury

that her son would be no worse off
living as a black man in this country.

You can start by making sure they
never hear from these witnesses.

These witnesses are
relevant, Your Honor.

Professor Murphy's study
quantifies the economic discrepancies

between the races.

Professor Harrison's work
on law enforcement practices

has been cited in every...

None of which has
anything to do with her client.

It goes to her state of mind,

her fear her son would suffer the
fate of many African Americans.

Your Honor, if Ms. Joyner wants to
establish her client's state of mind,

she can call her to the stand.

Even if I do, these witnesses are
evidence that her beliefs and concerns

about racism in this
country are reasonable.

There's no question the
beliefs are reasonable.

The issue is whether or not
her client actually believes them.

We wouldn't be
here if she didn't.

Simmer down, counselors.

Ms. Joyner, the case is about
the defendant's state of mind,

not the State of the Union.

And since these witnesses
have no direct knowledge

of what your client was
thinking, they're excluded.

Now, let's get back to court.

Frances kept telling me
we had to protect David.

I felt I had no choice
but to lie to the police.

Before this incident, was the
defendant aware you were black?

Yes. She found
out six years ago,

when my sister appeared
at our door, looking for me.

In nearly 20 years of marriage
she had never met your family?

No. I'd cut myself
off from them.

You see, when I was a child,

my mother always
told me I had good skin,

good features, good hair.

Back then, in Knoxville,
Tennessee, "good" meant "white."

I was often mistaken for white.

I could sit at the
front of the bus,

I could drink at the water
fountain reserved for whites.

You can't imagine what
an advantage that was

when you're bone-dry
thirsty on a hot summer's day

and it's another 20 blocks
to a colored water fountain.

After college, I got a good
job, because I passed for white.

I was promoted, I was
transferred to New York.

No one ever asked
me if I was white.

Frances had no
reason to question me.

After she met your
sister, what happened?

She was very upset.

She wanted a divorce.

In the divorce agreement,

were any special conditions
imposed by the defendant?

Yes, Frances asked that...

Objection. Approach, Your Honor?

Your Honor, the witness and the
defendant signed a binding agreement

not to disclose the
terms of their divorce.

Without paying a
substantial penalty.

Mr. Burdett is willing to
write Ms. Houston a check.

There are third parties
to be considered here.

Namely, the defendant's son.

Mr. McCoy, what term of the divorce
do you want your witness to testify to?

The defendant exacted his promise
that he wouldn't tell anyone he was black.

We'll stipulate to
that, Your Honor.

All right.

Objection sustained.

Members of the jury,

the defense stipulates for the record
that Mr. Burdett and Ms. Houston

agreed as a condition of their divorce
not to disclose Mr. Burdett's race.

Go on, Mr. McCoy.

No more questions.

Mr. Burdett, doesn't the fact that
no one found out you were black

prove you're an
accomplished liar?

I lied once, on an
application form.

After that, the question
never came up.

You passed for white because
it gave you an advantage

over other African
Americans, isn't that right?


You saw how blacks were treated

by your white friends
and colleagues?


You didn't want that to
happen to you, isn't that right?


Then why make it
happen for your son?

Why did you decide now to
come out of the racial closet?

Things aren't the same anymore.


When you started at
Northfield Pharmaceuticals,

how many black presidents,
vice-presidents and directors were there?


And now?

Three directors, in Human
Resources and Marketing.

Out of how many
executives? Ten? Thirty?

Nationwide, over 150.

Well, the Reverend
King can rest easy.

His dream has
finally come to pass.



There's nothing in the divorce
agreement other than what I told you.

I don't want to be taken by
surprise. Why did they object?

I have no idea what
Frances was thinking.

Now, you'll have to excuse me.

You looked at the divorce decree,
Jack. There was nothing there.

Pull the full record
of the divorce.

Depositions, draft
agreements, filings, everything.

Most of it's probably sealed.

Get a court order.

I tried to reason with Karin.

I begged her to think about Josh's
son, and what she would be doing to him.

But I wasn't getting through.

What was going
through your mind?

All I could think
about was David.

How his life would be changed.

All of his friends are white.
And all of their friends are white.

I was afraid for him, for the same
reasons that Josh kept secret his...



Go on with what happened.

Karin said she wasn't feeling
well, and that she needed some air.

She went out onto the balcony
and our argument heated up.

At one point she was wagging her
finger at me and I slapped it away.

And then suddenly she
grabbed my hair and I pushed her.

Before I realized what was
happening, she lost her balance

and she went over the balcony.

Was that your intent?


All I could think
about was David.

I just wanted to protect my
son, as any mother would.

I never thought to kill Karin.

Thank you.

Did you seriously expect Mrs.
Burdett to abandon her baby girl

for the sake of your son?

I don't know what I expected her
to do. I just needed to talk to her.

Because you were concerned
that your son's future was in peril

if it became known he was black?


Even in this day and age?

Oh, yes, Mr. McCoy.

For every Tiger Woods, there's
a thousand Fuzzy Zoellers

and I did not want
David to go through life

facing that kind of prejudice.

Prejudice where? At school?

Oh, yes.

Aren't there other African
American students in his class?

The only black student
they have is from Bermuda.

Who decided to send
your son to this school?

It was your decision,
wasn't it, Ms. Houston?



Answer his question,
Ms. Houston.

My father went to
the Chase Academy.

They have excellent academics.

And no African
American students.

Isn't that the real reason? No.

You wanted your son
to go to a white school,

to have white
friends. Isn't that right?


Because you don't
like African Americans.

That's not true.

You didn't want your
white friends to know

you'd been married
to one, did you?

No. That you'd shared your bed

with a black man. No.

Been intimate with a black man,

a "nappy-haired little monkey"?

That's a lie. I never said that.

The O'Briens were
lying? Objection.

Everyone is a liar, everyone
is a racist except you?

Your Honor, I objected.

Yes. Sustained, Mr. McCoy.

Isn't it true, Ms. Houston,
that your son has more to fear

from your prejudice
than society's?


No, I would like to
answer Mr. McCoy.

My son is not afraid of me.

He knows that I love him.

No more questions.

It has only been
three days, Adam.

Three days, 10 days.

The jury is stalemated.

There's always the next time.

You have nothing better to
do than prosecute this woman?

It's a hate crime.

If that's not worth prosecuting,
what are we doing here?

I've been paging you.

I've been breathing
six-year-old dust in a warehouse,

reliving the mother
of all divorces.

Burdett v. Burdett.
It went all 15 rounds.

These are draft agreements
from Josh Burdett,

these are from Frances Houston.

Take a look at the
custodial provisions.

Now look at the
alimony proposals.

She's unbelievable.

Get Mr. Burdett to confirm this.

You're right. That's
exactly what went on.

I was traveling on business
two weeks out of every month.

I couldn't possibly
take care of David.

It would have been nice to have
this information before the trial.

We could have impeached
your ex-wife's testimony.

Mr. Burdett, if
there's a re-trial,

I'm going to use this material,

and I'm putting you on the stand

to authenticate it and
explain what it means.

Absolutely not. My son
doesn't know anything about this.

Mr. Burdett... I won't do it.

Whatever happens
to Frances or me,

my son believes
his parents love him.

I won't do anything to
make him think otherwise.

I gave myself
asthma for nothing.

We can't use these unless
he authenticates them.

The jury resumes deliberations
at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Call Houston's lawyer,
schedule a conference for 8:30.

No bagels and coffee?
You should have told me.

I would have brought some.

Don't count on keeping
your big appetite.

Mr. McCoy, that
jury is out of oil.

The engine is freezing over. I
can smell it. They're deadlocked.

I'm ready to set a
new trial date right now.

And we'll hang that jury,
too. And the one after that.

One more trial, and it's over.

Ms. Houston, we uncovered some
documents relating to your divorce.

I've highlighted the
relevant portions.

When I got a divorce, I
fought for custody of my child,

but you actually fought
not to have custody.

I don't know what
you're talking about.

It's all there in the
draft agreements.

Neither of you wanted custody.

Your husband for
practical reasons.

And you...

He actually had to triple the
alimony payments before you'd agree.

They're wrong.

What I see in these
papers is a negotiation.

Whatever meaning
you're reading into it...

Was confirmed by
Mr. Burdett himself.

And he'll testify to
it at her next trial.

She didn't want the
boy because he's black.

Josh would never
get up in court.

He already agreed to do it.

The next jury won't buy your
Mary-Mother-of-God routine.

They'll see you for who you are.

A bigot whose racism runs so
deep, you even hate your own son.

I assume there's
an offer coming?

Man one,

Well, I want to see the
other attorneys at the firm.

The white attorneys?

You walk out that door, Ms.
Houston, the offer is off the table.

You'll be retried
for murder two.

You have an attorney present.
Give me your answer now.

You have a deal.

We'll notify the judge.

You have no idea what I
went through, Mr. McCoy.

Only in your own
mind, Ms. Houston.

You're lucky she
didn't call your bluff.

About Burdett testifying?

You don't feel bad
about lying to her?

She got off easy.

Burdett's lie cost her 20
years. Mine only cost her eight.