For the People recap: '18 Miles Outside of Roanoke'
Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuumbleeee! In the defense’s corner we have Sandra Bell! Blondie hails from Sacramento, enjoys a laissez faire attitude when it comes to cleaning her office, stands up for the little guy, and has a weird thing about keeping all of her clothes in a duffel bag that is related to some childhood trauma we’ve yet to learn about! In the prosecution’s corner, we have Blunt Cut! Like her hair, Blunt Cut keeps everything in her life tight and organized with a razor sharp edge. She believes in following the rules, and she loves Legos!
Sandra Bell and Kate Littlejohn are going head-to-head on a very high stakes case. Army Veteran-turned-contractor for the NSA, Dani Rios, leaked classified documents showing that the government has been illegally accessing confidential medical databases in order to target undocumented Americans and have them deported. Neither the documents nor what Dani’s done has been reported yet. If you ask Roger Gunn, Dani is a punk who has stolen from the government. If you ask Jill Carlan, Dani is an idealist in over her head. Roger knows Blunt Cut won’t stand for any rule-breaking and Jill knows Sandy believes in the rule-breakers. It is an excellent matchup.
Sandra and Blunt Cut’s colleagues know that, too. Seth, hilariously attempting to form a friendship with Blunt Cut, reassures her that she’ll be fine — opposing counsel is probably a dummy. But then Seth hears she’s going up against Sandra and he changes his tune. Blunt Cut does some Googling and finds out that Sandra is no joke — she clerked for the Notorious RBG. Leonard admits that he dislikes everything Sandra stands for, but she’d be the first he would call if he needed a lawyer.
Don’t think Blunt Cut is the only one checking out her opponent. Sandra does some research and discovers Blunt Cut is a force to be reckoned with. She also chats with Jay and he basically tells her that Blunt Cut will crush her emotionally and leave her with no dignity. But Jay is a drama queen when it comes to Blunt Cut, so Sandra takes his warning with a grain of salt.
Now on to case strategy: Just as Blunt Cut is realizing that the government not issuing any type of press release about the leak could be a detriment to her case, Sandra’s over in front of the press using that to her advantage. Dani Rios is an American hero, unfairly being put on trial. Now Dani’s name is out there, and if the government doesn’t want to spill any more info on this “National Security Program,” they may be forced to drop the charges.
But, as Blunt Cut predicts (that girl is always a step ahead), Sandra faces some unforeseen consequences after going public with the case. Dani saw Sandra on the news and has had an epiphany: She never set out to be a hero, but maybe this is what she’s meant to do. And she certainly can’t take a plea deal admitting she was wrong — what message would that send? She would rather stand up for those people than reduce prison time. Sandra is basically like oh, brother, but like in cool, hot lawyer speak.
Finally the two dynamo lawyers meet face-to-face. Sandra is trying to suss out how low the prosecution is willing to go with sentencing in hopes of bringing that news back to Dani and showing her that whatever deal they have is much, much better than 15 years in prison. Blunt Cut figures out that Sandy has no intention (or authority) to make a deal and, you guys, she is pissed. (Recap continues on next page)
Things escalate in the room. Sandy wants Blunt Cut to “be reasonable” but Blunt Cut takes offense — Dani Rios and Sandra are allowed to do whatever they want and this will all work out as long as Blunt Cut is reasonable? No thank you, sir! The whole thing ends with Sandra raising her voice and asking Blunt Cut if this was what she wanted to be when she was little. And she isn’t asking in an ice-breaker, let’s get to know each other way. She’s asking in a “do you seriously care more about rules than people” sort of way.
Sandra knows her real problem is her client. She needs to convince Dani to take a deal. Sandra decides to appeal to the burgeoning hero in Dani. She reminds her client that yes, she may spark a revolution, but she won’t be able to be a part of it if she’s in prison. Dani can do more good outside of these walls. That makes sense and Dani is very on board.
Before Sandra sits down with Blunt Cut again, she has one last trick to play. In court, she requests that the prosecution turn over all their evidence so that she can make the best case for her client. Sandra believes the government will never turn over this highly sensitive information and therefore drop the charges. Sandra is wrong. Blunt Cut is here to win, people. She agrees to hand over evidence, but only after it goes through a redaction process. It could take up to 18 months…and Dani will have to wait in prison that entire time. Judge Byrne is all like, ladies, no one wants to go to trial, PLEASE FIGURE THIS OUT AMONGST YOURSELVES. He probably has a racquetball game to get to, or whatever judges are into.
Sandra and Blunt Cut sit down once more. Surprisingly, Blunt Cut opens up to Sandra. She was really hurt by Sandy questioning her choice to be a prosecutor. She tells this very sad little story about being in 7th grade and being so excited — like six years worth of waiting excited — to go on the class trip to the United States Capitol, but because of one student breaking the rules, they turned around mid-trip. She never got to go. Because of one person deciding to do whatever he wants, 49 others had to suffer. “Injustice isn’t only felt by the loudest person complaining about it,” she tells Sandra. Sandra is very moved by this whole thing and they come to an agreement. Dani will plead guilty to theft of government property and serve three years of probation. They both can go home feeling good about how things went down. Maybe one day these women can be friends? Like, a long time from now, obviously, but one day?
Allison is facing an adversary this week, too — her brother. She’s the lawyer for a teenager, Keenan, who pleads guilty to possession of a firearm. His situation is very nuanced, so when the judge tells the court that she’ll be using Evaluate, a software program that uses an algorithm to determine likely recidivism of a defendant and therefore take the bias out of sentencing, Allison is not having it. Yes, Keenan had a gun, but his uncle gave it to him after their apartment was robbed twice. Yes, Keenan is a high school dropout, but he left because he needed to take care of his mother and brother when his mother’s MS got worse. Yes, Keenan lives in a zip code with a high crime rate, but one block over is a different zip code with a crime rate that would fare better in Evaluate’s algorithm. The computer program can’t possibly know all the intricacies of this specific case; it is all numbers and data. It will give Keenan a harsher sentence than, say, a judge who is very reasonable, like the judge they are standing before today. (Recap continues on next page)
Allison needs to fight the machine. Lucky for her, she comes from a family of scientists (as a public defender, she is the black sheep!), and her older brother is a mathematician. Not so lucky, she and her brother don’t agree on much these days. She pays Eddie a visit and it does not go well. He thinks she does whatever she wants and is still angry their mom and dad gave her their mansion apartment. She thinks he’s a machine, not a human with feelings. Siblings, man!
It takes one classic Italian from Zino’s and a softer approach to win over Eddie. The two begin to mend fences and Eddie offers Allison some good advice: She won’t win against the machine, but she could win against the judge.
Back in court, Allison does just that. She uses the numbers from Evaluate to her advantage. She shows Judge Barish that after comparing the recidivism rate from her court to the rate from Evaluate, Judge Barish is actually a more unbiased, fair judge than the program. It works for Keenan (he only gets six months), but Judge Barish warns Allison, and all of us really, that Evaluate is going to be a part of the legal system. The machines will rise! Okay, she doesn’t say that last part, but doesn’t it feel like it?
In happier news, as Allison and Sandra unwind with some wine, who should show up to join them but Eddie. The classic Italian from Zino’s is a miracle sandwich.
Elsewhere, Leonard is trying to win back Roger’s respect after a misguided attempt to show his power by parading his mother, a Senator, around the office. He does so by stealing a case from the hot lawyer he’s hooking up with. She’s a prosecutor in the Eastern District (Brooklyn and the like), and is waiting to apprehend a Bernie Madoff-type who currently is stuck on a cruise ship in the middle of the Hudson River after making a run for it. Leonard decides to get the authorities to make the cruise ship dock in Manhattan, so that the Southern District can arrest the guy and have jurisdiction over the case. Very sneaky!
Of course, Mother Nature has a different plan. The authorities won’t bring the cruise ship in one way or another because of a big storm passing through. Leonard will just have to wait and see where the ship ends up post-storm. It’s out of his control and he hates that.
Although, it isn’t as out of control as he thinks. It turns out Seth is a big ol’ weather nerd, or, um, an “amateur meteorologist.” Leonard enlists Seth to give him some insights into which way the storm is moving, so that Leonard can have his team ready to make an arrest. It works! He nabs the case for the Southern District. Roger is very, very impressed.
Our three prosecutors go out to celebrate and Seth performs some card tricks for them (another one of his secret hobbies), and honestly, I know this is a show about the justice system, but I think I’m mainly here for the friendships and magic.