For The People: S02.E07. “The Boxer”

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Screen Capture: Susannah Flood and Britt Robertson as Kate Littlejohn and Sandra Bell, respectively, in the Tom Verica directed 'For The People' episode “The Boxer.”



Did you catch the latest episode of “For The People”? With a teleplay written by Kristin Newman, Tom Verica directed episode “The Boxer” was televised in these United States on the ABC network Thursday, 18 April 2019.

The series, created by Paul William Davies, is set in the Southern District of New York Federal Court. It revolves around the professional and personal lives of defence and the prosecution attorneys.

Poster for the ABC courtroom drama “For The People” (An IMDb graphic).

Who stars in this episode?

Hope Davis, Ben Shenkman, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Charles Michael Davis, Susannah Flood, Wesam Keesh, Regé-Jean Page, Ben Rappaport, Britt Robertson, Anna Deavere Smith and Vondie Curtis-Hall are all present and correct for this seventh episode in the season. Joining the regular cast for this Verica directed episode is Mark Atteberry, Rahvaunia, Maynor Alvarado and Lyudmila Velikaya.

What is this episode about?

This episode is more about the Crime-Fraud Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege than it is trespassing, fishing without a permit and a stolen bag containing a brick of cocaine. The amount of literature on the subject is astronomical. There is an entire manual addressing the rules of professional conduct as they pertain to attorneys working in New York State.

Opening Sequence

Sandra Bell (Robertson) is sparing with fellow Federal Public Defender Allison Adams (Brown) way too early.

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Screen Capture: Ben Shenkman and Hope Davis as Roger Gunn and Jill Carlan, respectively, in the Tom Verica directed ‘For The People’ episode “The Boxer.”

Jill Carlan (Davis) evidently stayed over at Roger Gunn’s (Shenkman) place. While Carlan oversees the Federal Public Defenders Office at the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, Gunn is the Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the same building.

Jay (Keesh), now room-matting with Seth, questions the assistant U.S. attorney’s chosen attire for that day’s press conference. Jay is looking at Seth’s attire through the spectrum of his own cultural identity.

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Screen Capture: Susannah Flood and Ben Rappaport as Kate Littlejohn and Seth Oliver, respectively, in the Tom Verica directed ‘For The People’ episode “The Boxer.”

Please let’s not allow Seth’s bow tie distract us. Even though Seth is wearing a nice bow tie, it was not his idea. Consequently, Seth finds himself the target of much ridicule and laughter from his friends and even a Russian woman he does not know. Perception of what is and is not fashionable changes direction quicker than the wind. I have the exact same one in my draw of ties, somewhere. Yes, I know. I have a draw of ties. I digress.

Braden has been charged with trespassing and fishing without a permit at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Wallkill is a beautiful area. Anyone that has been there will know this is true. Being a beautiful area is not justification for criminal behaviour.

Leonard correctly observes Sandra’s client is indigent. “Three months’ probation. No fine.” What is the AUSA hiding? There must be something. Leonard is not usually this accommodating.

Just the Facts

A federal wildlife officer was reported missing. The officer has not been seen since the night of Braden Walsh’s (Atteberry) arrest. By the time Ted (Davis) discovers this information, 26 hours have elapsed.

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Screen Capture: Regé-Jean Page as Leonard Knox in the Tom Verica directed ‘For The People’ episode “The Boxer.”

Do the prosecuting attorneys have probable cause to compel Sandra to reveal information that is potentially covered under the Attorney-Client Privilege? Under U.S. v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554, 562-63 (1989), as Leonard Knox (Page) strongly expresses to Judge Nicholas Byrne (Curtis-Hall), “the court only needs a reasonable good faith belief that a review of the evidence in chambers could decide the matter.”

AUSA Kate Littlejohn (Flood) asks Sandra if she had ever played board games when she was little. Kate lists off Mousetrap, Monopoly and Clue as examples of games she played growing up. Interestingly, Sandra had not heard of Mousetrap.

Like the board games the AUSA mentions, Kate said, “We all have such distinct rules in this system, prosecutors, defenders, judges, Tina … Every role has such a distinct set of rules. Those rules are so narrowly drawn. It can take morality out of the equation. It can take humanity out of the equation and that is a good thing. We focus on the facts, on the law not on flawed fragile emotions.”

Despite distinct rules existing, the AUSA recognises there are rare hypothetical occasions where such rules do not completely apply. If there is a reasonable belief there is someone at risk, individuals can step outside their designated roles. One can stop playing by the rules.

The Case of the Missing Coke

Meanwhile, Seth Oliver’s (Rappaport) has a brink of cocaine in his bag. He does not discover cocaine until he is on a subway train heading home. As a result, because he is on a subway train only a few feet away from police officers and a police dog, the AUSA must exit at the next stop. It is not as if he has a plausible reason for the cocaine being in his bag. Because the content of Seth’s bag, further to the brick of cocaine, included some of the attorney’s mail, the thief was able to return it.

Legal Accuracy

Image Credit: Amazon.com

In this episode, Sandra correctly cites New York Rules of Professional Conduct when she said that rule 1.6 b 1 allows her to reveal confidential information to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm. The New York Rules of Professional Conduct is not something which series writers created for the benefit of this episode. It exists.

Real New York State lawyers must adhere to the New York Rules of Professional Conduct because not doing so would be extremely problematic for their careers. If individuals choose to ignore the rules, the ramifications could include being disbarred, being fined and possible imprisonment.

Leonard cites U.S. v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554, 562-63 (1989) as justification for his office subpoenaing Sandra regarding what information may have been past to her by her client. In reviewing the information, the judge determines there is no intent to further a crime and or fraud.  Consequently, in Byrne’s understanding of the issue, the Crime-Fraud Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege does not apply.

Is there a trailer?

Final Thought

In this episode, Sandra is the title character. She is the boxer struggling to determine the correct course of action.

When Ted (Davis) informs the federal public defenders the wildlife officer was found dead, Sandra feels she did the wrong thing. Giving Kate the map Braden drew earlier in the episode was a judgement call only Sandra could make.

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Screen Capture: Vondie Curtis-Hall and Britt Robertson as Judge Nicholas Byrne and Sandra Bell, respectively, in the Tom Verica directed ‘For The People’ episode “The Boxer.”

In the judge’s determination, the Crime-Fraud Exception to the Attorney-Client does not apply because there was no intent to commit or the concealment a crime. Despite this, Sandra has come to believe she failed her client. There is no easy way to resolve such an eventuality.