Since I’m on the topic of Boston Legal; the season 2 episode Live Big (16) which aired on the 21st features Alan Shore once again on the horns of an ethical dilemma. His client granted his Alzheimer’s afflicted wife’s request to have her life terminated.
I love watching James Spader’s characterization of Alan Shore. He’s so wonderfully dry. The contrasting relationship with the bombastic Denny Crane (William Shatner) makes an excellent sounding board (and vice versa) for discussion points within the episode.
Denny Crane: That’s how dad went. Morphine drip.
Alan Shore: How did you get the doctor to do it?
Denny Crane: “Denny Crane”. It was the real thing then.
Spader’s Shore is clearly uncomfortable with the whole subject, but he believes that his client should not be labeled a criminal, and bases his closing argument on that very basic fact.
The A.D.A.’s argument amounts to: he broke the law, he’s a criminal, and we can’t afford to start down the slippery slope of allowing assisted suicide. I mean, what happens when people start getting rid of the old, sick people they just don’t want around anymore.
Shore’s argument goes like this:
The dirty little secret is; we went down that slope, years ago. Officially we say we’re against assisted suicide; but it goes on, all the time. 70% of all deaths in hospitals are due to decisions to let patients die. Whether it’s morphine drips or respirators, hydration tubes. With all due respect to the Terry Schiavo fanfare, patients are assisted with death, all across the country, all the time.
As for regulating motive, here’s a thought, investigate it. if we suspect foul play have the police ask questions, if it smells funny, prosecute.
But here, there is no suggestion that Mr. Myerson’s motive was anything other than to satisfy his wifes wishes and spare her the extreme indignity of the rotting of her brain. Can you imagine? Would you want to live like that?
I had a dog for 12 years. His name was Allen. That was his name when I got him. He had cancer in the end. That, in conjunction with severe hip dysplasia, and he was in unbearable pain. My vet recommended, and I agreed, to euthanize him. It was ‘humane’ which we as society endeavor to be, for animals.
My client’s act was a humane one. It was a sorrowful one. Mrs. Myerson’s nurse testified as to the profound love that Ryan Myerson had for his wife. Sometimes the ultimate act of love and kindness…
If you think this man is a criminal send him to jail. If you don’t, don’t.
His client is, of course, acquitted. A classic case of jury nullification, a legitimate finding by the jury that the law was wrongly applied in this instance.
Another example of why I love the show evolves afterwards. Once again in a conversation between Denny and Alan, the nature of “who’s life is it anyway” is explored. An excellent conclusion to the episode, and what I’ve come to expect from the show.
Looking forward to tonight’s episode.