Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Law & Order LA “Carthay Circle” Recap & Review
This episode had great guest stars with Charles S. Dutton and Isaiah Washington providing compelling performances and Currie Graham and John De Lancie (who will always be "Q" to me) as great window dressing. I also enjoyed the story, which touched on the issue of gay marriage and laws being pushed to prevent it, and also voter fraud and a scam to make money off it. But maybe I missed it - where was Carthay Circle? Was that where the church was located? Again, they missed the chance to give the episode a name that had real meaning to the story.
Here is the recap:
Kim Ho Lee (Elizabeth Anweis) is found dead by a neighbor, Detectives Rex Winters (Skeet Ulrich) and “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) are called to the scene. Lee lives with her boyfriend Derek Joyner who is not home. She had been stabbed. Derek is a project manager at Corrigan Strategy Group. They see a receipt which places Derek in the home earlier in the day. A phone call comes in and Rex sees it is from Lee’s father. He asks to meet with him in person.
Rex and TJ speak with Mr. & Mrs. Lee and her sister, in an attempt to find Derek. They speak separately with Lee’s sister who says her parents have a problem with Derek because he is black. The car was leased through her father’s practice and they think he took Kim’s car.
At Union Station, the car is located outside the station, and they later find Derek got a ticket and left the station. They find calls on his cell records to a branch office in San Diego to his employer.
They speak with Derek’s boss Ben Corrigan (Steven Culp) at Corrigan Strategy Group and find Derek was project manager on Prop. 128, the California Marriage Protection Act. Derek was working out of the Crenshaw field office. Derek had a rep with the ladies.
Later, while Rex and TJ talk about Prop. 128 they hear the police arrested someone using Derek’s card. At the Garden Grove Police Department, they speak with the guy who used Derek’s card who tells them he found it – and the whole wallet cash and all - in a dumpster. He denies ever seeing Derek.
Back at RHD, the detectives discuss this development with Lt. Arleen Gonzales (Rachel Ticotin). They think something is not right with this. They found evidence at the scene that indicates someone may have been in the house crawl space. They head back to the home where crime scene people find Derek’s body wrapped in black plastic.
Back at RHD, they discuss that Derek was beaten and strangled and it appears he was killed first. The fugitive routine was staged, and it appears Derek was the target. There was a taxi receipt in Derek’s pocket.
They speak with the taxi driver who said he got a call to pick up Derek at his office. While he waited his car was hit by a sprinkler and his windows were open. There was a black guy who was parked near the house and he saw him go up to the house but not go in. They think Derek left work early and maybe someone tipped him off – maybe someone at Derek’s work.
At Prop 128 headquarters, a woman said Derek wanted to work from home and everyone knew as she had to reschedule meetings. She asks the detectives to sign the petition and Rex says he will think about it. She said one of the meetings had been canceled at the last minute. The person running the meeting, Roland Davidson, who had a family emergency. Roland is co-sponsor of Prop 128 and his father is Reverend Davidson. TJ asks if father and son got along, and she indicates they yelled sometimes.
The detectives speak with Roland Davidson (Isaiah Washington) who worked closely with Derek over the last year. He was at the office that morning and they did yell but they smoothed things out. He tells them he was at a fundraising dinner for the Promise Women’s Shelter and got there around 7 in time to hear his father give the blessing and he left at 9:30. Derek told him he was having problems with monogamy and he had an eye for the ladies.
Afterwards, they see that there is a car in the parking lot that looks like it has been hit by a sprinkler. They decide to check out Roland’s alibi and head to the Promise Women’s Shelter. They find Roland was late for the dinner as he was stuck in traffic. TJ sees a nice poster and asks who designed it and she tells them Roland got someone to do it for free. TJ notices the poster signature is Kim Lee’s.
They speak again with Kim’s sister who said she met Roland through Derek. They tell her they found calls from Kim to Derek. She indicates Kim only shared religion with Roland. She always wore a cross and Rex asks where she kept it when she wasn’t wearing it. She kept it in a box on her dresser that she got from her parents.
The detectives head to the church where Roland and the Reverend (Charles S. Dutton) are watching the choir practice. Roland says he has never been to Derek’s home but they tell him that they found his fingerprints on a jewelry box there. They arrest him.
The Reverend is at the DA’s office with DA Jerry Hardin (Peter Coyote) and DDA Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) and DDA Evelyn Price (Regina Hall). The Reverend says Roland is the pillar of his church. They argue about justice and politics and the Reverend gets upset when Morales quotes Dr. King to him. When the Reverend storms off, Hardin tells Morales that was unnecessary, but Morales comments that Hardin enjoyed it. Morales thinks the Reverend is using the church to oppress but Price tells him gay marriage is a huge issue in black churches. Morales thinks it is a great way to get people to open their checkbooks. Hardin thinks the case is thin and that when the Reverend speaks, their parishioners vote.
In Superior Court, Morales thinks they have probable cause to proceed, but Roland’s attorney Mr. Miller (Rick Hoffman ) says Roland was only having an affair with Kim Lee and says the evidence is inconclusive. Judge Avery Staynor (John De Lancie) agrees with Miller. Morales decides to withdraw the charges and reserves the right to refile later and the judge agrees. Afterwards, Morales tells price there are many ways to attack the case and is perplexed as to why they offered one that gave them motive. Maybe the murder was about something else.
Back at RHD, Hall goes over any other motives with the detectives. They wonder if it involves money and decide to go back and look at the fancy car. Later, the detectives check out the car and TJ finds a signature sheet for Prop 128 with names highlighted.
At the home listed as Trevor Watkins, there is no one living at that home with that name. They later find there are 11 phony names on the list and asks someone at the county clerks’ office to check some of the names. They find all 11 names are also on the voter rolls. Later, Rex and TJ tell Morales and Price that someone messed with the petitions and also the voter rolls. They think Corrigan has a scam going to get money for each signature. They think Derek found out. They also wonder how many other initiatives Corrigan has scammed. Morales tells them to get a warrant for Corrigan’s office and the Prop 128 office. Morales says he has to give Jerry a heads up as it will give his favorite reverend a coronary.
With warrant in hand, the detectives and the DDAs arrive at Corrigan’s office, who is holding a press conference to say he performed and audit and found that Derek was involved in fraud. He says they will get rid of the fake signatures and start over. The Reverend also says the work that will go on, and says Morales is there to help clear up the mess and to clear a path for them so they can start their important work. Morales looks a little trapped and then plays along to the crowd.
Back at the office, Price and Hall give Hardin the bad news on the scope of this fraud, and two of the laws Hardin campaigned for. Hardin is worried about a constitutional crisis but Morales is worried about the little picture – the murders. They think the fraud is why they were killed and they are still sorting it out. Morales wants to take another run at Roland Davidson.
The outline what their theory with Roland and his attorney and tells them they want Corrigan and they will deal for him. They offer 30 to life with no death penalty. Roland tells them he did not know about the phony signatures until Corrigan called him telling him that Derek was going to report them. His father staked his whole reputation on Prop 128 and the scandal would ruin him. Corrigan said it was up to Roland to stop Derek. He said he went to Derek’s and everything went sideways. He lost his temper and killed him and then Kim walked in and he knocked her out. He called Corrigan and he came over to decide what to do and Corrigan stuck a knife in her. Corrigan killed her.
Later, with Corrigan in custody with his attorney Max Hern (Currie Graham) present, Hern tells Morales and Hall that Corrigan had nothing to do with it. Morales then gets information from Hardin that Corrigan is off limits, Corrigan reached out so someone in Sacramento. The investigation of the initiatives has been taken over by the attorney general’s office. Morales thinks Hardin and the AG just gave Davidson his defense on a silver platter. When Hardin tells him he is overreacting, Morales says, “You watch.”
In Superior Court, Roland is on the stand. He talks about what happened at Derek’s house and what happened with Derek and Kim. He says he called Corrigan and he came over and killed Kim and then told him to hide Derek’s body and then make it look like Derek was on the run. Before he left, he saw Kim did not have her cross on and he found it in her room and put it on her neck. He took the train, threw away the wallet, and met his father at the charity dinner. Hern cross examines him and tries to poke holes in his story and brings up Roland wanting to take over the church and that for Roland it was about the money and power. Roland denies making a deal with Derek and it was not about money. Roland insists he is not lying. Hern brings up Roland lying about the affair and Roland apologizes for lying about that.
At the office, Price preps Reverend Davidson about his upcoming testimony. He is worried about Corrigan’s lawyer. The Reverend says his one son made a plea bargain to save his life and worries what would happen if Roland was lying. She tells him the deal would be off and Roland would face the death penalty.
Back in court, the Reverend testifies about his contract with Corrigan to pay him for valid signatures. Hern cross examines him and only asks if Roland ever told him there was a problem with signatures or to keep an eye on Corrigan and he says no. Dutton is slow to step down and then tells the judge he would like to change his answer. A month before Roland committed the crimes he noticed an error in the petition. There was an address that he knew 6 blocks from the church. Lucy Meriwether lived there her whole life but that was not the name on the petition. He told Roland and he said he would look into it. A few days later Roland told him he straightened it out with Derek and it was just a clerical error. Hern says they cooked up a lie to cover the fraud. Morales asks for time to prepare a redirect and the judge adjourns until Monday.
Later, Morales and Price speak with Roland who says his father is lying. He insists he did not find about the fraud until later. Morales asks why his father would chose Corrigan over him and wonders if the Reverend was in on the fraud with Corrigan. His father said all summer the money was flowing in like a great faucet.
Back in court, Morales has the Reverend on the stand who says he was just trying to protect his son but his son lied. Morales brings up the fact that the Reverend asked what would happen to Roland if it was discovered that Roland lied. The Reverend said he had to do the right thing. Morales brings up the other projects from the church and some of the donations, and that a large one was made by a person who was listed as a phony name on the petition. There are others just like that – over 1,000 made to his projects from phony names totaling a million dollars – the same amount that Corrigan is accused of defrauding from the Prop 128 campaign. Morales says the Reverend knew what Corrigan was doing and then squeezed him for money and now Corrigan is squeezing him so he made up the story about Roland and Derek. The Reverend accuses Morales of being cynical, and Morales brings up all the things the Reverend has done for the cause of human dignity and brings up Prop 128. Morales thinks the Reverend is sacrificing his own son to save his own skin. The Reverend again says he misspoke and now says he is not sure when or if he spoke to his son about the mistakes on the petitions or that he said anything to him about Derek. At his age, evens become confused an apologize for wasting the jury’s time.
At a later time in court, Corrigan is found guilty of one count of murder in the first degree. As the courtroom clears, the Lee family glares at the Reverend who walks off alone. As Morales and Price leave the courtroom, we fade to black.
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