Cadell is substituting at a local law practice for law-school classmate Sheila (Talia Balsam), who’s bedridden with a high-risk pregnancy.
The legal eagle takes over a pro-bono death-penalty appeal.
Convinced issues exist that could stay or reverse the death sentence, Cadell battles with a stubborn justice system and with the parents of convicted murderer Gilbert (Geoffrey Blake). She determines that the trial defense was woefully inadequate. But an additional rub surfaces: Gilbert is developmentally disabled.
The script’s sole shortcoming is that Cadell is the only adult capable of making this diagnosis. Also, viewers may find hard to believe that Gilbert’s mom Ginny (Kay Lenz) refused to publicly acknowledge the impairment because she prefers her son be executed and put out of his tortured existence; however, her attitude becomes understandable.
Writers Sharon Elizabeth Doyle and Beau Bensink aptly bring to the surface story’s emotional underpinnings. The scribes wisely avoid giving soapboxes to characters for attacks on the legal system, weaving such indictments into conversations that advance the story.
Lenz, though trodding familiar nighttime soaper ground, is convincing and enjoyable, and Donohoe’s rough-and-tumble vibe heightens conflict-laden scenes.
Director Dan Lerner keeps the credibility factor high, while d.p. Nick Taylor’s work is stylish.