Chicago Justice 1×08 Review: ‘Lily’s Law’

When it comes to television things tend to be easier than reality. Things tend to go our way more often than they do in the real world. Because what do we seek in fictional worlds? We seek the justice that we feel we don’t often receive.

In Chicago Justice’s fictional reality, we’ve seen seven cases that have ended up the way we would prefer as an audience. The good guys (the State’s Attorney’s office) prevail, while the bad guys (the defendants) are convicted.

That wasn’t the case in “Lily’s Law.”

Perhaps one of the most important lessons that this episode taught is that things don’t always go our way. Especially in the criminal justice system. You can have a damn good prosecutor, like Stone, and you can even win the jury over to the point where they deliver a “guilty” verdict on your opposition. But sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

Honestly, I feel like this was the perfect episode to finally show us Team Justice lose. Not only have we become used to Stone pulling it out in the end, but we’ve also gotten used to the law being on the SA’s side most of the time.

With “Lily’s Law,” it was as the episode called it, a case that centered around a law that didn’t exist. While there were other charges that the SA’s office was to bring forth against the douchebag here for known as “Jackson,” Stone decided to go all in with a murder charge.

The issue in this episode was that Stone and the SA’s office were going after this Jackson fellow for murder. If it was the stalker and fraud charges as previously defined, perhaps he would’ve been convicted. But Stone knowingly went out of his way to try to alter the current law just a tad so that they could win this case.

The law is hard, but it is the law. Which is exactly what Stone found out the hard way. Yes, he successfully won over the jury. Yes, the jury found Jackson guilty of murder. But no, the judge did not grant that verdict. The judge overturned the verdict seeing as the evidence presented was not enough to warrant a verdict of “guilty.”

Stone knew that he was going all-in attempting to twist the law to fit this case. And he almost did. But, in the end, the law won. Even though this douchebag was a vicious, lowlife, cowardly, excuse of a human being who emotionally abused his wife and mother of his child. It doesn’t matter if the guy deserved it because he is a terrible person. The law states that he isn’t guilty.

But here’s the thing, we can’t always get what we want. Not even in entertainment. Hell, writers make it a business of taunting their audiences with obstacles that confront our favorite characters and favorite ships. But it’s an important lesson to learn that things don’t always go the way we want them to.

And now was as good of a time as ever to understand that as Chicago Justice powers onward towards more cases. Maybe now we’ll sweat a little more or sit up a little straighter knowing that we’re not guaranteed a victory. Not even for the good guys.

Let’s break this episode down:

Does Emotional Abuse Perpetuate Suicide?

The issue that “Lily’s Law” brought to the forefront is an issue that needs more attention when it comes to suicide and self-harm. It raised the question: Does emotional abuse perpetuate suicide?

The law will tell you, no, it does not. Unless there’s evidence that shows a direct connection between the abuser and the victim, then the abuser cannot be held responsible.

But then, our hearts and minds tell us, yes, it does. If someone is repeatedly emotionally abused then there is only so far one can be pushed before they cause themselves harm. We read about it in the news. “Teenager commits suicide after being bullied.” Suicide isn’t something that just springs across someone’s mind. It’s something that is a gradual purpose that consists of a lot of different variables. But everyone has a breaking point.

In “Lily’s Law,” this woman was repeatedly abused emotionally by her ex-husband. Whether it was calling her a loser for attempting to commit suicide the first time and failing or forcing their son to spew hatred and lies to his mother through Snapchat.

You want to tell me that all of those horrible things – all of those grotesque, hateful words – aren’t a motive in someone committing suicide? I can’t speak on behalf of those that have or have thought about committing suicide, but I have to imagine that at some point we’ve all been at our lowest. That if someone were to berate us repeatedly, belittle us, make us feel like we’re walking scum that would be the breaking point to push us over the edge.

Pain is riddled throughout this world. It’s terrible, but it is. We all have to live with the pain and the fear it brings about. Some people are better suited to handle it, whether it’s their mental state or the people that they’re gifted with in their lives.

But think of those people who don’t have someone to help them through the dark times. Those whose self-esteem and self-worth has been beaten to a pulp, and they have no one to lean on for strength. Imagine what would happen if someone were to then continuously – like hundreds of text messages – emotionally abuse said person. What do you think is going to happen?

But the issue here was, that emotional abuse being grounds for murder wasn’t in the law in Chicago. Even though we all knew after watching this episode – hearing the texts this Jackson sent Lily, watching Jackson actually belittle her existence – that this guy pushed her into committing suicide, the judge ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the bastard of murder.

And it sucked. So much. But the law is the law. And Stone realized that he had to do something about it. Which leads us to…

Rewriting the Law

Peter Stone is a character that I knew I’d end up respecting, but I didn’t realize how much I’d truly grow to love because of the man that he is. Stone isn’t the emotionally open character (for reasons, I’m sure), but it’s his work with his job and the law that shows just how passionate he really is.

Stone goes out of his way to help his clients – even when the cases are over. He still keeps an eye out for them. They’re like his family.

So after Stone lost this case against the emotionally-abusing douchebag known as Jackson, he didn’t stop there. Even after he won over the jury; even after the jury declared a “guilty” verdict; even after the judge overruled the jury’s verdict and let the scumbag walk free, Stone didn’t stop fighting.

Thanks to a little encouragement from Mr. Jefferies (who I still don’t like as a person, sorry), Stone decided to try and change the law so that something like this wouldn’t happen again. So that the courts would recognize the importance of emotional abuse in suicide and murder lawsuits.

That was the issue with this entire episode, anyway. From the start, Stone knew he was dealing with something that could turn over at any second. That’s what happens when you try to wiggle around the law. The final verdict here wasn’t a question of if this Jackson guy was responsible for Lily’s murder (he was). It was a question of what did the law say. And the law said that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that emotional abuse is a direct correlation to suicide.

But we saw Stone go to the Chicago Senate with an amendment to this law involving emotional abuse and the effect it has on suicide and murder convictions. Now, we don’t know for sure if what Peter did will ultimately pay off, but it was the fact that he went there in the first place to try and change something that was wrong. While he might not have been able to get justice for Lily, perhaps he can get justice for someone else in the future.

Five Things…

  1. Wait, how often does a judge overrule a jury? Like that seriously blew my mind. Does that actually happen? I consulted with actual lawyer Lizzie (yes, our Lizzie), and she said that only happens once in a blue moon. Well, Stone, aren’t you special.
  2. The Staldez coy flirting is going to kill me. I can’t help it that my heart belongs to Peter and Anna on this show, but it does. The lowkey flirting that they’ve been doing for eight episodes now was at a high in this episode. The looks. The proud grins. Dear God, give me some validation here, Chicago Justice writers!
  3. Anna Valdez has become one of my favorite characters. She’s completely not what I expected her to be, as Nagel told her in this episode. Valdez has been quite a mystery in this series, and she has been slowly letting information out. She keeps her personal life personal. Anna admitted that she’s not someone that wants kids or even a boyfriend. Doesn’t mean she can’t have some fun though. She continues to surprise me.
  4. The issue addressed in this episode needs be heard! Suicide is often something that people view as the victim’s own doing. Clearly they did something to deserve what they got. But this episode showed, more than ever, how it’s other people’s actions that can push you to the breaking point. Where words are more powerful than actions. Where words can drive you to take your own life.
  5. My pride for Peter Stone knows no bounds. Just last week he had me fist pumping for putting that skeeze ball away for murder – and potentially the death penalty – and this week Stone went right to the Chicago Senate to propose an amendment to a murder bill that included emotional abuse as a direct correlation. So. Damn. Proud.

Chicago Justice airs Sundays at 9/8c on NBC.

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor, DC TV & One Chicago Writer

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper. TV and Sports Editor. I write about DC TV and One Chicago. Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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