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'The Good Wife': Good Law? -- Season 7, Episode 18

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 28, 2016 12:57 PM

We complained last week that none of show's subplots were hitting home. That all changed this week.

Alicia's affair with Jason finally collided with her marriage to Peter. The first dominoes (and partners) began to fall in Diane's plan to have women take over the firm. And the grand jury investigation into Peter is finally impacting someone we care about. Oh and drones -- there were some drones, too. Here's your legal primer on last night's episode, "Unmanned."

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 7, Episode 18
"Hearing"

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  • Season 7, Episode 19 (Airs 4/17/2016)

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert):

Get it? "Unmanned?" As in drones and Alicia asking Peter for a divorce? Good god, we're finally here. Even if the actual split may be delayed until Peter's investigation is over, it will be the end of an adulterous era. And now that that investigation is dragging Eli and his daughter into it, we're really starting to hate it (and not just because it seems like a distracting way to shoehorn Eli back into the show).

Also, David Lee sides with Diane getting more money, and votes to make Alicia a named partner in the firm, which has Cary looking to "burn one down." Whether that "one" is a joint or the firm itself remains to be seen. Actually, whether anything is left standing after the last four episodes also remains to be seen.

Legal Roots:

Can I Shoot Down My Neighbor's Drone? Maybe. Probably not. Who knows? The lone legal plotline in the episode unveils how little drones are regulated, and how much the FAA still needs to figure out. Short answer: you probably shouldn't shoot down your neighbor's drone -- even if courts can't figure out if it's illegal criminally speaking, drone slayers do get sued.

Legal Fiction:

At one point, the judge in the drone case recognizes a person's "First Amendment rights" in her drone. And while Illinois law may differ, other states have concluded that there is no First Amendment right to drone surveillance. And when folks do get in trouble for shooting down drones, it's normally not for infringing on someone's free speech rights -- it's for weapons or property crimes.

Legal Babble

"Castle doctrine" In the drone-shooter's defense, Diane and Alicia invoke a legal concept known as "castle doctrine." Named for the idiom that a man's home is his castle, it permits the use of force in self-defense while at home. There are some exceptions, of course, and state "stand your ground laws" can vary significantly -- Florida, infamously, allows the use of deadly force any place where a person has a right to be, while California limits self-defense to instances of "reasonable fear of imminent peril or death or great bodily injury," and not simple burglaries.

Legal Verdict

After a few episodes of appetizers, the proverbial table finally feels set for the main course. Alicia's love life, firm life, and criminal investigation life all exploded this week, and we have four episodes left to see where all the pieces land. Oh yeah, and the FAA should really get to work clarifying their drone regulations.

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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