The Practice
Vanished, Part I

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Into Not-So-Thin Air

Suffering County Courthouse. John Pearce is on the stand. He still looks like Vincent Price. Bobby asks, "If you didn't kidnap Chad Baldwin, who did?" Pearce has no idea. Does he care? Of course he does. Blah witness is a bad person blah. I'm pretty sick of the whole "vilification as a probable defense" in this non-entity of a trial. Bobby tries to catch Pearce in a lie. Pearce: "Mr. Donnell. I have a sexual problem for which I received both treatment and medication. But I have never been a person without compassion." Okay, Pearce looks like Vincent Price, but he sounds like Jack Nicholson on speed. Blah would you bother to help if you could? Yes. Why didn't you come forward as a possible witness? Blah he didn't see anything, blah he was afraid he'd become a suspect, blah but you left early that day, blah he didn't feel well and went home blah. It's just a coincidence that you left just before Chad Baldwin disappeared? Bobby tosses "soon-to-be-convicted child molester" around for a while, oh, the circumstances are just too easy to understand, and Pearce is just too much of a solid suspect for it to have been anyone else committing the crime. Except, wait -- isn't this DEK? And aren't we watching The Practice. Isn't the obligatory plot twist coming up? Blah he lied about the Lego, blah he lied about the nephews. "What happened to Chad Baldwin?" Pearce doesn't know. Doesn't he want to help, because he's compassionate? Yes, but he can't help them. He didn't take their son. Would you be willing to take a polygraph? Pearce says, "Those things aren't foolproof." Bobby knows that, but he wants him to take the test anyway, and Henrietta objects. Will he take the polygraph? "No! Because I don't think they're reliable." Bobby snarls, "And you insist on reliability." Henrietta objects, and then Bobby sits down. Judge Spindle asks if Bobby has any more witnesses; he doesn't. Then she asks if Henrietta has any, which she doesn't, but she would like to make a statement. Oops -- Judge Spindle's not interested. She makes some pretty brazen assertions, blah there would have to be another "skulking child molester" behind a tree to have kidnapped Chad, blah that doesn't seem probable, blah Pearce looks guilty to her, blah there's no evidence, but blah the case is going to go forward. She's not going to recommend civil commitment until the case is founded on more than suspicion alone. Looks like Bobby's trial didn't accomplish anything except to torture Pearce, the Baldwins, and all the lawyers involved. Bobby's very sorry. The clients are happy with him. He did his best. Ah, ain't love grand?

The Firm. The elevator opens, and a heavy-hearted Bobby and Ellenor approach the office. A young man steps forward after getting off the bench that sits in front of the office. He introduces himself as James Tucker. Bobby wants to know how he can help them. Well, they've been following the Pearce trial on the news and need to talk to somebody. Bobby: "About what?" Pause. James glances over to his mother, then says, "I think I may be Chad Baldwin." No one says a word, because they didn't see that plot twist coming, not one bit, no, not at all.

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The Practice

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