Since its premiere, Chicago Justice has been combining character-driven stories with commentary on social issues.
Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 4 was a little different. While the crime of the hour was loosely based on the Brock Turner case, the real story seemed to be about Valdez's relationship with a judge who was killed.
I like Valdez and the story was interesting, but I didn't find "Judge Not" to be nearly as gripping an hour of television as usual.
The story began well enough, with Valdez being on the losing side of a Fourth Amendment argument. But as soon as she walked out of a bar with the same judge she had just argued in front of, I knew there was going to be trouble.
On TV shows, attorneys hanging out with judges usually means something inappropriate is going on, and this was no exception. It was lucky for Anna that she wasn't accused of being involved in the judge's murder!
Anna: Ask me or I walk out that door.
Stone: Were you sleeping with him?
Anna: That's none of your business.
Stone: Then you should say No.
Anna: I shouldn't have to.
Valdez seemed to feel that her personal relationship was her business, but that would only be true if she wasn't a lawyer who argued in front of the judge on at least one occasion and the judge hadn't ended up dead. She really did have a conflict of interest.
It didn't matter whether she slept with the judge or not. The fact that she was on a first name basis with him and knew fairly intimate details about his personal life made her too close to him to be involved with this case.
In that sense. maybe she was right to believe that how sexual she and the judge were was nobody else's business. Still, though, she wasn't getting the point about conflicts of interest. She continually worked on the case and Stone had to keep pulling her off of it.
In real life, I'd think that this would be grounds for an internal investigation, if not an outright suspension. Valdez's behavior nearly lost the SA's office the case in addition to being in violation of Stone's instructions on several occasions.
Laura: PD found the shell casing. It was a 32. Seems like this was a hit.
Stone: Guy was on the bench for 15 years, must have put away at least 500 bad guys.
Antonio: That's 500 motives.
Valdez's personal relationship aside, the case was a fairly interesting redux of the infamous Stanford rape case, in which a rapist got a six months sentence, shocking and upsetting advocates all over the world.
This case has been addressed on several crime dramas, most notably Law & Order: SVU, which is also a Dick Wolf production. So I wasn't sure there was anything very original to add. However, Chicago Justice managed to provide a new take on it.
In "Judge Not", Zoey Butler was a complex character. She was a rape survivor who refused to be seen as a victim and who divorced her ex-husband because he was too obsessed with what happened to her and too interested in protecting her.
She was rightly angry about what had happened to her, yet by the end of the hour had somehow found peace.
And of course, she was completely innocent in the matter of Judge Kinsey's death despite the fact that she had more motive to kill him than anyone else.
Kaitlyn: This is America. I live with a judge, remember? I know my rights.
Laura: We asked you if you wanted a lawyer. You said no.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, but I'm a minor.
Laura: And we have a subpoena.
Antonio: If you're gonna go all Constitutional on us, we'll charge you with resisting arrest.
Kaitlyn: Bite my ass.
Judge Kinsey's foster daughter was another interesting character. I wanted to know more about why she was so angry and what had made her vandalize the judge's car. It sounded like she adored him and that he was the only positive adult role model in her life so this didn't make much sense.
There wasn't really room to develop her character beyond her being a red herring in the investigation, and that was a shame because her backstory was sure to have been very dramatic.
Of course, it turned out that the killer was not her nor was it Zoey. It was Zoey's ex-husband John.
I was glad to see Chicago Med's Dr. Charles make an appearance to explain what might have made John become a murderer, but I didn't quite buy his explanation. Charles said that the killer might have sought revenge against the judge after being triggered by forces unknown.
Usually Dr. Charles is right on the money, but this explanation didn't seem like the most likely one. John killed the judge when Zoey moved on with another man. The only way revenge works is if he was hoping to frame Zoey for the murder.
It seemed more likely that John wanted to prove he was a better man for Zoey and decided to do that by killing the judge who he felt had wronged her.
In any case, John's unraveling when he saw Zoey's new fiancee was dramatic and well acted, but I didn't think it was realistic that he would be found guilty on that basis.
I'm not a legal expert, but I'd think that the defendant getting emotional and making confessions that may or may not be true in front of the jury would be cause for a mistrial, especially with a judge who was already planning on giving the jury an extremely strict instruction about Valdez's testimony.
I also wasn't sure that Antonio and Laura's examination of the bike and subsequent arrest of John was legal. They didn't have a warrant and he had said he had to get back to work when they initially looked at the bike.
Antonio: It means eye for an eye.
Laura: I'm impressed.
Antonio: Head altar boy at St. Johns. Free wine and incense, what's not to like?
I liked the banter between Antonio and Laura throughout the hour, though, so I'm willing to overlook the legal quibbles. At first, I wasn't crazy about this new partnership, but it is really growing on me.
What did you think of "Judge Not"? Did you enjoy the Valdez angle this week? Did anything about the story su rprise you?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can watch Chicago Justice online to catch up on anything you missed.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.