We can testify that scenes from the legal drama The Good Wife are far from being accurate representations of real-life legal processes. We even object to its tendency to overuse certain legal drama tropes. Still, we enjoy certain episodes that occasionally tackle interesting legal issues and depict law offices as realistically as they possibly can.
In the Season 2 episode “Bad Girls, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is assigned the case of Sloan Burch (Miranda Cosgrove), a Lindsay Lohan/Britney Spears composite. Sloan has a DUI (driving under the influence) charge and is looking to get out of it ASAP, so she can get back to working on her decidedly edgy pop-rock song. The episode has some interesting elements that caught our attention: a busy law office, a motor vehicle accident case, celebrity characters, possibly lying witnesses, and iCarly.
What a busy day at a law office looks like
There’s no denying that law offices — such as ours in Renton, Seattle — can get very busy. Law firms operate with deadlines, client inquiries, meetings, and peer reviews — sometimes, all in one day.
This particular episode depicts a busy office and much more. Alicia is being peer-reviewed but gets dragged out of it by a colleague who needs her to attend to a high-profile case pronto. Lawyers are milling around the office to mull over the merits of peer reviews. Kalinda, the in-house private investigator, is discussing evidence with anyone who has time. Attorneys trade barbs. There’s also a subplot involving Alicia’s husband, Peter, who is running for office. But forget about Peter and his little subplot; this episode is about the women. Like any regular day at a law office, this episode is packed.
After her peer review, Alicia and David (another lawyer at Stern, Lockhart, & Gardner) hurry out of the office to meet Sloan, her sister, and their mom. They briefly discuss the mother’s divorce and spousal support, with the DUI case treated as the minor case.
All in all, it’s a semi-accurate portrayal of a day in a multi-practice law firm. Julianna Margulies’ perennially stoic expression is just a nice touch.
The price you pay for being a teen queen with a DUI charge
State laws generally do not discriminate against teen queens. But the show may be implying that the Lindsay Lohan-types are prone to motor vehicle mishaps and may pay dearly for it. Perhaps we simply have been paying too much attention to celebrities who’ve had run-ins with the law. The truth is that DUI state laws are fair to everyone.
In Washington state, a DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated) offense is considered a gross misdemeanor punishable by jail time and fines. Penalties vary depending on whether it’s the offender’s first, second, or third offense.
In the fictional world of The Good Wife, which takes place in the state of Illinois, Alicia tries to delicately state the situation for the troubled teen queen. She tells her that since it’s her third offense, the charges may be harsher than what she had been told. Alicia also tells Sloan that DUI laws are stricter in Illinois than in California, where she had previous DUI convictions. Attorney Alicia (and the show’s writers) gets it right.
Plot twist: The bad girl is a good girl
While the case is being tried in court, Sloan gets arrested; not for DUI, but an attempted homicide. The defense counsel, out of nowhere, presents evidence to the judge showing that Sloan was not just drunk-driving but allegedly trying to slam into another woman’s car with whom she got into a fight at a bar.
Sloan’s erratic behavior can be seen as an attempt to shed her good-girl image, at one point telling Alicia that she wants to get out of the “Disney ghetto.” However, it is later revealed that even a wild child like her wouldn’t commit what she was being accused of.
It turns out she is innocent of both DUI and attempted homicide charges. It was her sister who crashed the car in question. The teen queen who is trying to shed her good-girl image is a good girl, after all. She was trying to save her sister, who she thought wouldn’t survive prison.
If the sudden turns of events seem jarring, it’s because they are. We didn’t say that the episode was coherent. One good thing about the episode, however, is that Alicia isn’t portrayed as winning another case just because she’s the main character. In most cases, attorneys settle for getting the most favorable outcome for their clients, and the show gets that right.
Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams are the good attorneys of Washington state. Let our team represent you in your motor vehicle accident or motorcycle accident cases in the Evergreen State — call us or leave us a message.