Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh come on...

I just finished watching this week's Law and Order:SVU. If you don't want spoilers then stop reading this.

Long story short Judge Donnelly (played by Judith Light) actually steps in as the prosecutor in order to prosecute a woman who had been on the run from a murder charge for 34 years. It turns out when the woman was originally charged Donnelly was the ADA assigned to prosecute and the suspect managed to escape (by requesting a private meeting, asking to go to the bathroom then escaping).

As a result Donnelly was humiliated in the DA's office and spent years working her way back up. I can see how tough it would have been for a woman trying to make her way up in the judicial system in the 70s (she even commented that before being offered the case her boss actually asked her husband if she had permission to take the case).

Once the trial starts she comes after this woman with everything she had. Despite her assurances of the contrary it really looked like her interest was not justice but revenge for having her career setback and "setting back the image of women". But at the end of the trial (yes at the end, not by the end) she has a change of heart. The suspect is found not guilty of the murder but is found guilty for going on the run. Even more than that Donnelly then recommends probation. The suspect and Benson both wonder what prompted the change of heart. Her answer:

"Back then I...was trying to so hard to be one of the boys...I...forgot why I became a lawyer."

So it wasn't because she realized that she was motivated by revenge and not justice. It was because she was trying to be "one of the boys". While it is true that women are often pressured to do things they would normally not do (which I guess is why some people will try to associate negative things like anger, violence, and the desire for revenge with maleness) in order to get ahead I find it hard to believe that Donnelly's motive for pressing that woman so hard was because she wanted to fit in. I'll put my money on revenge.