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'The Good Wife': Good Law? -- Season 7, Episode 3

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 19, 2015 11:38 AM

So, what if someone sells a drug that's similar to an illegal drug but not exactly the same? Is that illegal? But what if they were trying to create a safer drug ... does that matter? If you've ever wondered what the mens rea for selling an analog narcotic is, this was the episode for you.

If not, at least we had some cooking show fun with Alicia's mother and got to watch Ruth and Eli continue to lock horns over Peter's presidential campaign. Here's what you need to know from last night's episode, entitled "Cooked."

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 7, Episode 3
"Cooked"

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  • Season 7, Episode 4 (Airs 10/25/15)

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert):

It's Alicia's thorniest bond court case yet -- what looks like a simple case of drug manufacturing turns into analog drug manufacturing turns into a possible setup on Alicia turns into a sting on Judge Schakowsky. And Eli can't help but meddle by tipping off the judge in return for a political favor.

Alicia also inadvertently butts heads with Diane, after Howard Lyman comes to her with an age discrimination lawsuit against Lockhart, Agos and Lee. While Alicia refuses to take Howard's case, she does advise him on how to avoid getting pushed out or fired.

Legal Roots:

Alicia and Lucca think they're clients will get off the hook for selling GHB when they find out the compound they got busted with is a synthesized designer drug. The problem is that the federal government got wise to capable chemists and passed the Federal Analogue Act in 1986, which treats any chemical "substantially similar" to illegal controlled substances the same way as the illegal drug.

Alicia's representation of her client gets more complicated and potentially unethical when she explains that if he was trying to make GHB and failed, he might get off scot-free. Alicia walks a fine line between explaining the legal options to her client and advising him to commit perjury. Lucky for her she avoids her own trial for illegally coaching her client, who as it turns out is an FBI agent intent on busting the judge on corruption charges. So, no harm, no foul.

Legal Fiction:

This episode was pretty clean, legally speaking. Although viewers could've been a little lost on the drug charge catch-22. For most crimes, there are at least two main elements: the intent to commit the crime, and the crime itself. Because criminal penalties are severe, most crimes require proof that the defendant meant to commit the crime charged, and didn't accidentally break the law.

In this case, because Alicia's client did not actually make GHB and instead made a synthetic drug, prosecutors must prove he intended to manufacture a synthetic drug and did manufacture a synthetic drug. If he intended to manufacture GHB and did not, he couldn't be convicted of manufacturing a synthetic drug. The prosecutor does a good job of getting the defendant to admit his true intent, undoing the catch-22.

Legal Babble

Objection, Badgering the Witness: Just as much a staple of legal dramas as Miranda warnings, the objecting to opposing counsel "badgering the witness" comes in handy anytime it's going badly for your client. Here's the problem, there is no legal rule against "badgering" a witness. An attorney cannot and should not be openly hostile to a witness during cross-examination, but there are generally more apt objections, such as counsel is not asking a question or that the question has already been asked and answered.

Take it from someone who tried (and failed spectacularly) to use the badgering objection in a mock trial competition -- judges are not swayed by attempts to protect your witness that have little or no legal basis.

Legal Verdict

Alicia and Lucca's partnership took a little stumble, but appears to be solid, while the rift between old partners and new associates continues at Lockhart, Agos and Lee. And the way Eli is moving behind the scenes, I have a feeling we'll see Alicia Florrick, political candidate, before season's end.

Until next week, we should take the lesson "The Good Wife" is often teaching us: things are not always what they seem.

What did you think of this week's episode of "The Good Wife"? Is the show guilty of making any legal mistakes? Check back here for more legal recaps of "The Good Wife," and send us a tweet at @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #TheGoodWife.

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