Ripped From Which Headline? "For the Defense"

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 16 2009 11:15 AM

Ripped From Which Headline? "For the Defense"

We all know that Law & Order rips its stories from the headlines--but which headlines? Every week, Brow Beat matches L&O 's plot points to the events that inspired them.

Nov. 13, 2009: "For the Defense"

These Are Their Stories
The episode begins when Maggie Hayes is killed before she can testify in a murder trial. The detectives discover that Hayes' employer had mob connections and convince Paige Regan, a co-worker with whom Hayes was romantically involved, to testify against their boss. While Regan is in hiding, an attempt is made on her life. Eventually, the detectives and attorneys realize that the common element in these and other cases involving violence against potential witnesses is the involvement of defense attorney Marcus Woll. Woll, who started out in the ADA's office, was the lawyer whose drug-cartel-connected clients were freed after a witness was intimidated in the Nov. 6, 2009, episode " Boy Gone Astray ."

This Is the Real Story
On May 20, 2009, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that Paul Bergrin, a former-federal-prosecutor-turned-defense-attorney, had been indicted for orchestrating "a racketeering operation out of his Newark firm that regularly intimidated—and, in at least two cases, plotted to murder—witnesses scheduled to testify against drug dealers and gang members" whom he represented." According to the story, Bergin's mantra was "No witness, no case." The charges filed against Bergrin included witness tampering, racketeering, mortgage fraud, and murdering a federal witness.

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June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. Follow her on Twitter.