Sunday, November 14, 2010

US Television: Outlaw, Episode 1.8, "In Re: Tony Mejia"

Season One, Episode Eight, In Re: Tony Mejia
Original Air Date:  November 12, 2010 (Canada), November 13, 2010 (US)

Cyrus is unhappy with a candidate for the Supreme Court seat he vacated.  The team must go to Mexico to ask for the extradition of a man who murdered a young woman in Los Angeles.  The extradition is denied but the man is found guilty and ordered to prison in Mexico.  However, when he is released unexpectedly, the father of the young woman shoots and kills his daughters killer and must stand trial in Mexico for his crime.  Mereta is in some legal trouble of her own and it is up to Al to get her out of it.

Cyrus feels the candidate for his replacement, Sean Ryan, isn't the right candidate.  Cyrus was a prosecutor in Cook County when Ryan was a judge and everyone knew Ryan was on the take.  Cyrus can't give his friend Sherry Lemko proof that Ryan's decisions were for sale but he gives her the name of Fred Shervin who does.  She will check it out in exchange for a favor.  Mexico is refusing to extradite a man who murdered a kindergarten teacher, Lisa Mejia, in Los Angeles.  He needs to go to Mexico and convince them to send the man back to the United States.

Cyrus asks Eddie to get him all motions filed by the U.S. Government to extradite the murderer back to California as well as the Mexican response.  Mereta gets a call from someone named "Tim" at work and there is apparently a problem she doesn't want to talk about.  Lucinda and Eddie place bets if "Tim" is really her brother as she claims or her lover.

Al and Cyrus speak with Lisa's father, Tony Mejia, and he tells them about the new boyfriend in her life, Julio Trujilo.  She had wanted to break up but he didn't.  Her father tells them the LAPD found DNA evidence that he was responsible for her death but he was gone when they went to arrest him.  He is in custody in Mexico but, without pressure from the U.S. government, he will be let go.  He begs them to bring him back.

Trujilo's uncle runs a drug cartel but it is unknown whether he is involved or not.  Lisa was choked into unconsciousness then raped and when she woke up, her neck was broken.  According to the Mexican briefs, they will extradite only if the death penalty is taken off the table.  While they are discussing the case, Tim Reid shows up to talk to Mereta.  Someone gave him a subpoena from an insurance company outside his apartment.  When Cyrus asks who he is and says that he should leave, Tim speaks up that he is Mereta's husband which surprises everyone. 

Al and Eddie speak with Mereta and Tim.  Tim tells them that he was diagnosed four years ago with a stage three brain tumor and was given four to six months to live without surgery.  He didn't have health insurance at the time and couldn't get it with the pre-existing condition.  Since he and Mereta were such good friends in college, they got married so he could get on her insurance policy, thus, saving his life.  Lucinda, who came into the room while they were talking, thinks what Mereta did was awesome.  The insurance company is claiming Mereta and Tim committed fraud because they got married only to get him on the insurance policy.  Al assures her he can help and since she is being sued for a half million dollars she needs his help.  Al tells Cyrus that he and Mereta are going to have to sit the trip to Mexico out.  Eddie doesn't want to go either because of the danger of drug violence but he must go anyway. 

In Monterrey, Mexico, Cyrus speaks with a judge on behalf of the President of the United States for the extradition of Trujilo.  He gives the judge his word that he will not face the death penalty.  The judge informs them that they are too late as Julio has already been tried for the murder, a "paper trial", as Cyrus calls it.  The judge read written accounts from the prosecution and defense and made a decision based on those.  The judge tells them they will have his decision by the end of the day. 

Tony Mejia is angry at this fact and Cyrus tells him no matter what happens it isn't over.  Cyrus translates the ruling of the judge for Tony.  The judge found Julio guilty of Lisa's murder and sentences him to prison for no less than 25 years.  Tony feels better knowing that the man who killed his daughter will be going to jail and Cyrus believes Julia will be transferred to prison as early as later that day.

While waiting in Mexico to return to the States, Cyrus calls Sherry to tell her he held up the end of the deal and to find out if she held hers.  Cyrus knows Donald Crane is in the mix for his old Court seat and he feels he wouldn't be "a horrible choice".  Cyrus calls Tony to tell him the plane is about to board and Tony tells him he's watching the man who murdered his daughter enjoy happy hour.  Tony grabs a gun from the holster of a nearby policeman and we see Cyrus calling to him over the phone.

Cyrus, Eddie and Lucinda arrive at the scene.  Cyrus heard four shots over the phone and the reports say Julio took two bullets.  A policeman tells Cyrus that Tony fled the country and not ten seconds later he gets a call from Sherry telling him the Mexican government is insisting they arrest Tony the second he lands in Los Angeles.  Cyrus leaves Eddie and Lucinda in Mexico to handle things there while he goes to Los Angeles. 

In Los Angeles, Cyrus speaks with Tony who is in custody at the airport.  Tony insists that he saw the police in Mexico let Julio go.  Cyrus tells him Mexico wants to try him for murder and that while extradition can be delayed a few months, in the end, the American government will send him back to Mexico.  Cyrus vows to go back to Mexico with him and do everything they can to get him back to the States again.

Al has filed a motion to dismiss Mereta's case with prejudice on the grounds that it fails to state a legitimate cause of action under the law.  The opposing attorney cites fraud and that it is a very legitimate reason.  Al notes there is no legal restriction against marrying for insurance.  The judge holds the case over to prove whether Mereta and Tim "pulled a fast one" or not but he also warns that the court will not walk head-on into what is or isn't a loving marriage and notes the high burden is on the insurance company.

Back in Mexico, Cyrus tells Tony that he will now surrender at the district attorney's office and he will go before the judge and ask for bail.  As soon as they step inside the airport terminal, they are met by members of the press.  Policemen rush in and take hold of Tony and usher him away and Cyrus tells them he wants Tony put in protective custody and nobody is to question him.

Cyrus wants Sherry to have the State Department lodge a complaint because of how Tony was taken into custody.  She did find Shervin but he will not talk to her.  She promises him he will like how everything ends.  Lucinda is having trouble getting witness statements from the shooting scene.  Some won't talk and others she is still trying to hunt down.  At the very least, all they have is an insanity defense which means they must rely on the testimony of a court appointed psychiatrist they know nothing about.  He orders Lucinda and Eddie to find out everything they can about the shrink.  Cyrus asks Lucinda to reach out to someone back home to see if they know anything about Sean Ryan. 

Al gives Mereta some last minute tips on her deposition.  He assures her that she doesn't need to lie about why she and Tim got married.  Trials are about what can be proven not what is suggested.  As long as she doesn't admit flat out that they got married for insurance they do not have enough.  She doesn't need to lie, just answer in ways that won't cost her half a million dollars.  Mereta tells about how the marriage was a small affair that was a happy occasion during a difficult time and how they spent every day of the last four years of college together.  He admits they never lived together after the marriage.  The insurance company lawyer pushes hard wanting Mereta to admit they married only for the insurance policy but Al comes back just as hard in defense of her.  Al wants to end the deposition but Mereta doesn't want to go.  She wants the lawyer to ask his last question again ("isn't it true your sole purpose for marrying Tim Reid was to get him insurance he couldn't get on his own").  When he does, she answers "yes".

At the psychiatrists office, Tony is understandably nervous.  While he is talking with the doctor, Lucinda comes in and lets Cyrus know she found a witness who will say that Julio taunted Tony before the shooting.  She also gives him a statement she got from Shervin.  The psychiatrist describes Tony to Cyrus as a deeply wounded man who, even with prolonged therapy, might never be the same.  He also cannot support the insanity defense because, according to him, he is unstable yes, but insane, no.  Cyrus believes Dr. Fernandez is wrong and they need to make the court see that.

The judge asks Cyrus about his intentions to use an insanity defense even though the court psychiatrist has rejected that theory.  Cyrus wants to call in his own expert which the prosecution objects to.  He wants to challenge the doctors findings because they are flawed and he can prove that but the judge refuses.  Cyrus accuses the doctor of having an opinion that was paid for.  The judge agrees to let Cyrus question the doctor.

He asks if it is his opinion that Tony was legally sane at the time of the shooting and the doctor responds that he was.  He then asks if it is his professional or medical opinion to which the doctor replies he doesn't understand the question.  When Cyrus clarifies his question, it is to state that Fernandez is not only a doctor but also a professional witness.  He makes a living evaluating defendants for the court.  Dr. Fernandez admits that is true but has no bearing on his medical opinion.  Cyrus presents him with statistics of how many defendants he's evaluated (14).  Fernandez corrects the figure to 24 and testifies he's worked for the courts for twelve years.  With a total of 288 defendants and twelve years of working for the court, almost 200 of them in a row were in favor of the court.  Cyrus wants an impartial doctor from the University of Monterrey to review Tony and will accept whatever she finds.  The judge grants that because even he wants to hear a second opinion.

The insurance company lawyer rejects Al's settlement of $350,000.  They want everything.  He produces papers that Mereta and Tim were defrauding them from the very first application.  Al rescinds his offer because the statute of limitations on the fraud case stands at three years and the first application was made four years ago.  The insurance company should have filed four years ago when they reasonably knew they were being defrauded.

Doctor Lourdes Leon comes into court to testify that she believed Tony Mejia was emotionally unstable at the time of the shooting because of everything he had endured from his daughters murder up to the day of the shooting.  Finding Trujilo on the street was enough to cause him to snap and that he quite possibly had the inability to reason or function rationally when he shot Julio. 

Lucinda is bringing in the witness who is to testify that Tony was taunted by Julio before the shooting when the woman is abducted.  They can't prove the kidnapping and cannot identify who took the witness.  Tony is going to have to testify about the taunting since the witness cannot.  He testifies that Lisa wanted to break up with Julio but he refused to let her go, about the day he found her body and about what he could remember from the day of the shooting.  The prosecutor asks the judges to render a guilty verdict because they cannot allow vigilante justice.  Cyrus points out how Tony was able to keep himself together throughout everything up until the moment Julio was taunting him and makes a plea to the judges to find him not guilty so he can go home to get help for his feelings.

Mereta and Tim end up having to pay $60,000 to the insurance company.  The Mexican court finds that Tony was not legally insane at the time of the crime and finds him guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  They sentence him to 15 years in prison.  However, they stay the sentence and order him to be immediately deported from the Mexican borders.  The President appoints Donald Crane to Cyrus' old Supreme Court seat over Ryan.

Well, this episode finds us at the end of the road for Outlaw.  I will admit, I was a bit unsure about Outlaw for the first couple of episodes.  But the series got stronger every week.  There were good characters here that I could get behind and care about and some of the story lines were fantastic.  It's sad that NBC didn't get behind this show more and seemed so quick to cancel it instead of trying a different time slot or different night, preferably.  Just trying anything to help it.  I guess the networks want every show to be top raters from the get-go and they need to realize that that can't always happen.  Some shows hit the ground running and others start at a slower pace and work up to that awesome momentum that the networks love so much.  I think Outlaw could have been one of the latter had it been given a fighting chance.  A slow start doesn't mean a bad show just as a quick start doesn't mean a good show.  I'll miss Outlaw and I sincerely hope that at some point in the very near future, the awesome Jimmy Smits returns to network television and is given the chance he truly deserves.

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