MovieChat Forums > Evelyn Prentice (1934) Discussion > A defense attorney throwing his client u...

A defense attorney throwing his client under the bus


It took me out of the movie for a moment when Mr. Prentice realizes that his wife was innocent and then proceeds to sell out his client. That would never happen in real life. A defense attorney would never do such a thing, and even if they tried they wouldn't get very far before being stopped by the judge and/or the case being thrown out.

It doesn't really matter that John spins it all around afterwards and ends up getting Judith acquitted. A defense attorney would never in a million years do what he did.

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As I wrote on the board for "Stronger than Desire", the moment his wife testifies as to her involvement, he has a conflict of interest. The prosecutor saves him by moving to have the case dismissed, but Prentice rejects this. He would be subject to sanctions from the bar for his actions.

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Yeah, it wasn't just a plot hole, it was a plot black hole that sucked in the entire film. The definition of a mistrial. What follows and his (very unlikely) summation, etc. sort of slap a band-aid on it, but with this film's many problems- and there are certainly a few more- Powell and Loy plus the terrifically fun Una Merkel keep it watchable.

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it's a movie, not a documentary.

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True enough, and I'm pretty tolerant of legal glitches or glitches of any sort. In other words I don't let them interfere with my enjoyment of the movie. I love watching Star Wars, even though it appears that different physical laws applied long ago in that galaxy far far away. Nor do the mythical "letters of transit" in Casablanca keep it from being one of my favorite films.

But they are amusing to discuss.

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It's still subject to standards of believability. If flying pigs entered the court room, "it's not a documentary" wouldn't help. and it doesn't excuse the huge leap here.

Granted, in the age of Court TV, etc. audiences are much more sophisticated about how criminal trials work. But I think most people even then would get it that when your own attorney starts cross-examining you in an effort to exonerate someone else- his wife!- and tells you "you've been my friend, now tell the truth!", and starts trying to demonstrate your guilt, that's not going to be allowed to proceed on any basis.

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It's melodrama.

And he didn't throw her under the bus. His closing argument was defending her, as was his reexamination, making it liok like self defense.

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Sorry, but he did. He has no knowledge that her testimony will support self defense. He has no idea what his client will say. He is also brutal in his reexamination. He says his client lied to him. If that's so, why should the jury believe anything she says? His duty to his client was to take the dismissal offered by the prosecution.

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