Discussion is on Season 1, Episode 4, entitled Flip of the Coin. Hosted by Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard.
Send your comments to WhiteCollaredPC@Yahoo.com
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:00
[Titles] This is White Collared: The Podcast. Season one, episode four, “Flip of the Coin”.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:12
[Intro] Welcome to this episode of White Collared: The Podcast, which is a retrospective commentary on the USA Network Television series, White Collar. My name is Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:24
To anyone who's written, posted comments or left reviews, I want to thank you. I am recording in advance by several weeks and so I'm not able to respawn directly to your comments, or reviews, or emails in the episodes here at the present time. But as soon as I can publicly acknowledge those, I will do so. Once again, thank you very much.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 00:50
Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let's get on to this episode. Flip of the Coin first aired on November 13, 2009. It was written by Jeff Eastin and Joseph C. Muscat, and directed by Timothy Busfield.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:08
[Episode Summary] Elizabeth Burke shows up at the office with a longtime friend Dana Mitchell in tow. Dana's husband, Captain John Mitchell, is wanted by the FBI for allegedly smuggling stolen Iraqi artifacts into the country, and Elizabeth pulls Peter into the case by convincing Mitchell to turn himself in. To Peter. Meanwhile, Neal tries to decipher the map that he found on the wine bottle, trying to figure out where Kate intended it to lead him.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:35
[Act 1] The episode begins with Peter and Neal sitting across the desk discussing what is at this point—and for the rest of the episode, actually for that matter—an undisclosed case. When Peter decides they need to look at some of the file records he makes Neal go get them rather than having a clerk go find them.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 01:53
Now, in the pilot episode, Peter commented that his probationary agent Diana did everything he doesn't. Diana isn't in this office at the present time, or at least we haven't seen her, but it does seem that Peters using Neal in a similar way, although not for the same reasons.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 02:09
In Neal's case, I think it's partly because he's just trying to help Neal understand that a huge part of the FBI’s work is drudgery. When Peter and Neal interact with the public, Neal's title and position is as a consultant, but to Peter, he's still a convict who was simply released into the custody of the FBI, rather than being in a more traditional form of incarceration. Incarceration is punishment, and rehabilitation for the commission of a felony or other offenses isn't about living in luxury at the government's expense. As Peter put it, you get caught into your time. Peters insistence that Neal go find the file himself rather than passing the job off to clerks is probably just a subtle reminder to Neal that he's essentially a prisoner, not to forget his place, and maybe to appreciate that even doing menial jobs for the FBI is nothing in comparison to what he would have been experiencing had he still been in prison.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 03:07
[FBI Probationary Agent] In the case of Diana, according to the FBI’s website, and an article entitled, "Becoming an Agent: An Inside Look at What It Takes”, new agents report to their first field office where they'll be on probation and are assigned a training mentor. Over a three year period agents must reach specific checkpoints and objectives before they can operate more independently in investigations. So in Diana's case, it's more about training than discipline.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 03:33
[Act 1 Continues] While Neal is down in the file area, looking for the files and the information that Peter sent him to go get, Lauren Cruz shows up.
Neal Caffrey 03:42
Sticking around, huh?
Lauren Cruz 03:46
Yeah. Hey, is it true you once sent champagne to a surveillance van?
Neal Caffrey 03:51
That's the rumor. Been checking up on me?
Lauren Cruz 03:55
You were part of my thesis at Quantico.
Neal Caffrey 03:57
Really? How'd we do?
Lauren Cruz 04:00
Neal Caffrey 04:01
Not bad. Find anything interesting?
Lauren Cruz 04:06
Truth or rumor?
Neal Caffrey 04:07
Is there a difference?
Lauren Cruz 04:09
Like counterfeit stock certificates were your only conviction but you're implicated in at least a dozen other confidence schemes, frauds and forgeries.
Neal Caffrey 04:16
Is that why you asked to be reassigned to the White Collar unit?
Lauren Cruz 04:19
Yeah, you know, I wasn't gonna pass up a chance to work with someone I've admired since college.
Neal Caffrey 04:23
Hey, play your cards right, I'm sure we'll make a case or two.
Lauren Cruz 04:26
Oh, honey, I was talking about agent Burke. He caught you twice, right?
Neal Caffrey 04:31
Hey, maybe you can help me out 'cause I'm looking for some records here.
Lauren Cruz 04:34
Yeah, we got clerks for that.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 04:40
Now in the previous episode, Book of Hours, she was insistent that she was not jealous of Maria Fiametta and the attention that Neal was giving her during that particular case, and that she didn't have any interest in Neal herself, and that she was perfectly fine with the stale coffee they had in the surveillance fan, but here she does seem to be more than willing to flirt with Neal. Apparently her interest in Neal goes back to her days at the FBI Academy where, according to her, he was at least part of her thesis at Quantico.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 05:13
[Quantico] Now for anyone who only knows Quantico as a name used in TV shows, a little bit of background information on it here, Quantico is home to one of the largest US Marine Corps bases—it’s called the Marine Corps Base at Quantico. Seems a logical name, doesn't it? Well, including being home of the multitude of Marine Corps facilities and organizations—including the HMX one presidential Helicopter Squadron, the Marine Corps combat development command, and the Officer Candidate School and the basic school—the base is also the site of the FBI Academy, the FBI laboratory, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration's training academy, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations headquarters.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 06:04
[Act 1 Continues] Elizabeth shows up at the office with her friend, Dana Mitchell. Both are visibly upset, and Elizabeth explains to Peter that Dana's husband, John Michell was accused by the FBI of stealing Iraqi gold artifacts and smuggling them into the country, and that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Peter looks at the case file on the computer and discovers that Mitchell's fingerprints and hair evidence were found on several pieces of gold artifacts which were found in a storage shed as the result of an anonymous tip. As Peter and Elizabeth are discussing the details of the case, Neal walks in with the file folder of information that Peter had sent him to get earlier.
Neal Caffrey 06:46
Found that file…This can wait.
Elizabeth Burke 06:51
No, Neal, come in. Now, Neal... Just because someone's accused of doing something, that doesn't mean that that person is guilty, right?
Peter Burke 07:04
You really think he's the best person to ask?
Elizabeth Burke 07:06
Neal Caffrey 07:08
I suppose it's possible.
Elizabeth Burke 07:10
See? That's what I thought.
Peter Burke 07:12
If we have your prints and hair on the scene and you're on the run, are you guilty?
Elizabeth Burke 07:17
Oh, now he's the best person to ask?
Neal Caffrey 07:20
Honestly, I think your friend should turn himself in.
Elizabeth Burke 07:22
I completely agree with you. That's why I told Dana to tell him what to do... Turn himself in.
Peter Burke 07:27
So he is turning himself in?
Elizabeth Burke 07:29
He's going to be turning himself in to you.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 07:32
When Neal walks in, and he sees Elizabeth and Peter in there, and what seems to be a tense situation, he definitely gets that, ‘Uh-oh, what have I walked into now?’ look. So he…he knows that he wants to make a fast exit, and he tries to, but Elizabeth keeps him in there and tries to use him to convince Peter that the evidence against John Michell, and the fact that he's been accused of it doesn't necessarily mean he's guilty. Because that’s..that’s how a lot of police officers think is that well, he must be guilty, because we've issued a warrant, and there's evidence to suggest that this is the case. Because after all, we don't issue a warrant to arrest an innocent person, only guilty people. So therefore, the fact that he's got a warrant issued for his arrest means he's guilty. It's a circular logic type thing that law enforcement very often will use, but Elizabeth is trying to break Peter out of that. And so she tries to use Neal to do that, which probably isn't a good choice, because one of the common—I don't want to say myths, but—one of the common behaviors of criminals, even when they're 100% guilty is to claim they didn't do it. So to ask Neal if somebody might be innocent, in spite of evidence, is really kind of a bad approach to it. But that's what she does. And of course Neal says, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're guilty. And then of course, Peter counters that by saying, Well, you know, we've got all this evidence. Are you guilty? Which is really isn't a fair question. The fair question would be, are you possibly guilty?
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 09:24
The whole problem with this conversation is that you have to wonder, in one sense, if Elizabeth really realizes the position that she's putting Peter into. After all, as the wife of a career agent she should have some idea of the basics of protocol. The proper way to investigate a case is not decide what outcome you want before you begin the investigation, and then pursue the investigation based on that outcome. Unless you're trying to use your position and the investigation to further your personal goals, or a personal agenda, or to serve some sort of personal vendetta. This is the same sort of approach that Ruiz used when he decided in the episode ‘Book of Hours’ what the caliber of weapon was used in the murder, before he even looked at the evidence.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 10:10
Now, the second thing is that this case is obviously already under investigation by other agents. That's how we got to the point of the warrant being issued for John Mitchell's arrest. So strictly speaking, once Peter had arrested Captain Mitchell—after Mitchell turned himself in—Peter should have left the investigation to those other officers, and not doing so would undoubtedly be a huge breach of protocol.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 10:38
And third, given his proximity to the suspect—his personal, somewhat personal relationship to the suspect—he certainly shouldn't have been investigating it because of the potential for bias, or at least, the potential perception of bias.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard10:54
But I have to think that Elizabeth did understand what she was asking of Peter because she is the wife of a career agent. But I think doing so actually says a lot about her respect for Peter as a person of integrity, as a diligent FBI agent, and her faith and the strength of their relationship. She knows that he is someone who respects the truth, no matter what that truth is, who won't walk away from somebody who is innocent and falsely accused—or at least potentially innocent and potentially falsely accused—and will do everything in his power to set those things, right. I think she knows that even if the entire thing blows up in his face because of the violations of protocol that she is expecting of him, she knows that he will understand and that it all happened only because of her total faith in him, and that he won't hold it against her.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 11:48
Now, when Mitchell turns himself in, both Peter and Neal recognize that he was surprised to learn that his fingerprints were on the gold. He had no idea what the evidence actually was that prompted the warrant. But Neal realizes something even more significant.
Neal Caffrey 12:06
Peter Burke 12:08
Neal Caffrey 12:09
Before I say anything, what's the statute of limitations...
Peter Burke 12:11
Just tell me.
Neal Caffrey 12:13
You can't melt down precious metals like gold without getting splash blisters on your arms, no matter how careful you are.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 12:19
Peter points out that the lack of burn busters doesn't in-and-of-itself mean that he's innocent, but it does, however, suggest that perhaps the case has some holes in it. More importantly, we learn that at some point in the past Neal has been involved in the melting down of precious metals, presumably some stolen items that he needed to convert to some other form to hide or to make it easier to sell them on and get cash out of them.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 10:49
During his arrest, Mitchell had mentioned Patrick Aimes, who was working with the State Department, so Peter goes to have a little talk with him because Mitchell had specifically stated that Aimes had asked him to help bring some goods back to the United States. During the conversation, Peter notices that Aimes’s bodyguard has blister burns on the back of his wrist. So then he calls Jones and instructs that every recovered artifact be brought back to the office
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 13:15
With the artifacts in the office, Jones and Lauren Cruze are going through them placing and arranging them on the conference table. When Neal comes in, he picks up one of the pieces—not wearing gloves—and Cruze snaps at him. And there's absolutely no flirting going on here. It seems that Cruz is somewhat ambivalent in her feelings toward Neal as she seems to be back into the old frame of mind toward him that she was in in ‘Book of Hours’. When Neal says he's never framed anybody only been framed for counterfeiting stock certificates and a dozen other confidence schemes, frauds and forgeries, you get a glimpse of the look on her face. And it's look that says, this guy's unbelievable. He can't tell the truth about anything. Not to mention that he is quoting back to her what she said to him in the file room earlier in the episode.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 14:11
Then Peter comes in and starts raising questions about Mitchell's fingerprints on the artifacts. They're too clean, and they're all from the left hand, which everybody finds curious and suspicious. But at this point, they don't know what it means.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 14:27
Later, Peter and Neal are having a drink and discussing the case. But then the conversation gets around to Dana, who has been staying with Elizabeth and Peter while the investigation is ongoing. It seems that Peter may be hanging out with Neal simply in an attempt to avoid going home and dealing with Elizabeth, who was frustrated with the situation and Dana, who is apparently continually upset and crying about the situation. As they are having this discussion, Neal realizes that maybe the way somebody got Mitchell's fingerprints was that they had a drink with him. And they were able to lift his fingerprints from the glass or the bottle that he'd been drinking from.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 15:07
Peter goes home and tries to question Dana, and share the possibly good news. But it doesn't go very well.
Peter Burke 15:17
Elizabeth Burke 15:18
Peter Burke 15:19
Elizabeth Burke 15:21
Peter Burke 15:23
Well, which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?
Dana Mitchell 15:26
There's bad news?
Peter Burke 15:29
Not more than there has been. He's still charged. It still looks pretty bad. I'll go with the good news. There are some evidence anomalies. Someone may have planted his prints on the gold.
Dana Mitchell 15:43
So, you mean he really was framed?
Peter Burke 15:45
It's possible. I'm curious. Did he have drinks with anyone recently? The prints are crisp, which would indicate a glass or a bottle, so it was probably for a beer.
Dana Mitchell 16:01
It's not okay, really.
Peter Burke 16:04
Yes, it is. This is the good-news part.
Elizabeth Burke 16:06
Can I talk to you for a second? Okay. I'll... I'll be right back.
Peter Burke 16:13
What did I do?
Elizabeth Burke 16:15
I don't know, but you see she's crying.
Peter Burke 16:16
Yeah, I see that she's crying! I need to know if John met someone for a drink. Maybe he didn't tell her. Does she suspect him of cheating?
Elizabeth Burke 16:23
Yeah, now I'm gonna let you go talk to her.
Peter Burke 16:25
This is important.
Elizabeth Burke 16:26
Go upstairs. Up-stairs. Thank you.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 16:31
We know from the very beginning of this episode that Elizabeth is willing to challenge Peter on things when she feels it's necessary, and to essentially force a situation when she feels it's necessary. Which is what she did in forcing Peter into this investigation.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 16:54
Now, when this scene, when Peter asks Dana question about the evidence anomaly which suggests that Mitchell may have been having drinks with somebody, which could explain how his fingerprints were found on the artifact, she begins crying. And of course, Peter has no idea what it is that he said that was so wrong. He thinks that's the good news. So, Elizabeth calls him out of the room and scolds him about how he approached the conversation, and his response to Dana, and orders him out—not only out of the room, but completely out of the downstairs area, orders him upstairs. Go to your room. You've been a naughty boy, just go.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 17:34
Then Elizabeth attempts to console Dana by telling her that sometimes Peter doesn't realize that he's an FBI agent, which is sort of her way of saying he just doesn't know how to talk to people as anything other than suspects or witnesses. Peter does end up letting Elizabeth do the interview of Dana, which again, going back to my observations in previous episodes indicates that Peter not only talks to her about his cases, and uses…uses her as a sounding board, but he also trusts her discretion. After all, the bureau would probably frown on letting us civilian question a witness. And then it is a witness even if it's only peripherally.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 18:15
During Elizabeth's interview with Dana, it comes out that a reporter—Alisha Teagan—had previously been embedded with John Mitchell's unit in Iraq, that she had met with John as part of a story about returning vets that she was working on, and that during this meeting and interview between John and Alisha Teagan, John had apparently left his baseball cap at the bar. And Peter and Neal realized that the glass from the bar and the baseball cap could have been used as a source of the fingerprints and the hair fibers found on the artifacts and that press credentials could be a fantastic way to bypass customs, thus making Alisha Teagan a possible suspect in their case. But they also realize they can't connect Teagan to Aimes, and can't prove anything about Teagan’s possible involvement.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 19:04
Peter and Neal decide to go interview Alicia Tegan, but she isn't in yet. So Peter goes up to her office to wait for and leaves Neal in the lobby to watch how she reacts when the guard tells her that there's an FBI agent waiting for her. Neal feels slighted and scams his way past the security guard and heads into Tegan's office.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 19:24
[Act 2] While Peter is interviewing Alisha Teagan he sees Neal break into Tegan's desk. Neal find something which he takes over to the photocopy machine and makes a copy of before he returns the original back to her desk. Then he hightails it out of there. And meanwhile, Peter is doing his best to keep Keegan's attention away from her desk, keep her from leaving the interview until Neal can get out. When they leave, Neal brings the photocopy of whatever it was that he has to Peter, and Peter is not happy about it.
Peter Burke 20:00
What was that about? You had me off my game.
Neal Caffrey 20:02
You told me to watch her reaction. That's what I did.
Peter Burke 20:04
By breaking and entering?
Neal Caffrey 20:06
Phil let me in.
Peter Burke 20:07
Neal Caffrey 20:08
The guy at the door. Okay, you want to know what I found?
Peter Burke 20:10
Neal Caffrey 20:11
She gets rattled when she heard FBI. She went to her desk and locked something in a top drawer.
Peter Burke 20:16
Neal Caffrey 20:16
I didn't steal it. I photocopied it. It's a pawnshop ticket. Bet I know what she was pawning.
Peter Burke 20:23
No. I didn't see this. You didn't see this.
Neal Caffrey 20:28
But I did see it.
Neal Caffrey 20:39
Hey, Moz. I got a favor to ask you.
Neal Caffrey 20:41
I need you to check out a pawnshop ticket for me.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 20:44
Here again, we start to see the the consequences of Neal's insistence on improvisation, and his apparent lack of concern and forethought for the result and the complications that his improvisations create. However, Peter recognizes it. The problem is pretty much that regardless of how they might have otherwise discovered it, the pawn ticket is now tainted, and in all likelihood, no longer admissible as evidence, thus potentially compromising any case that they might have been able to assemble against Teagan and Aimes. Now I'll get more into this in just a little bit. But this is the start of that process of damaging the case because of the improvisation.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 21:32
Peter walks on off and Neal calls Mozzie and asks him to check out the pawn shop and ticket in question, Peter goes on home. When he arrives, Elizabeth tells him that she would like some girl time with Dana, so Peter heads over to Neal's apartment where Neal is researching the map that Kate made on the label of the wine bottle. Neal realizes that the ‘X’ on the label—part of the word Bordeaux—is significant. After all, Kate loves the classics. So he calls Mozzie. And we again see evidence of Mozzie’s paranoia when he asks Neal, “did your suit put a tail on me?" Well, Neal tells Mozzie his news. And Mozzie says he's got some news too, and that he's on his way over to show it to Neal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 22:12
Unfortunately for Neal, Peter arrives first. Peter insists that they sit down and have a drink and talk about the case saying, “last time we had a drink we made a breakthrough. Hoping tonight we can solve the whole case.” Almost immediately, Mozzie shows up and things start to get complicated for him and Neal.
Photocopy of a pawn ticket... but I got this coin. What?
Neal Caffrey 22:37
Sorry, Mr. Haversham. June isn't here at the moment.
Oh, well... Uh, too bad.
Peter Burke 22:43
Hang on a second. Who are you?
I'm the neighbor... Dan-te Haversham. Dante Haversham.
Peter Burke 22:54
You really want to keep this up?
Neal Caffrey 22:55
No, I don't. You're right. This is…
Peter Burke 22:55
No. I know. How about I just call you Mr. Haversham? Come on in. Thought you'd be taller.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 23:12
Now it's clear that Peter heard Mozzie's comment about the pawn ticket and the coin, and it's obvious that he's also not buying the act about Mr. Haversham—Don-te Haversham. Dante Haversham—being a neighbor who is dating June. And he asks Neal and Mozzie, “do you really want to keep this up?” And when he does that Neal almost starts to admit something to Peter about Mozzie. But he doesn't get the chance to because Peter interrupts him and says, “No, I know.” And it’s…what—what Peter knows about Mozzie isn't what Neal thinks or was thinking Peter might know about Mozzie. It seems that although they saddled Mozzie with a fake name, and Peter seems to accept that as his name—or at least he…he goes along with it—it does seem apparent that Peter does have some knowledge of, or intel, on Mozzie. It's just not complete. Or maybe it's just not completely accurate information. But it seems like Peter has figured out—or at least suspects—that Mozzie/Haversham was Neal’s source from the pilot episode when Neal found the warehouse at Curtis Hagen was using and Peter said, “Look, I've got to talk to your friend who gave you the cigarette”, which was, of course, Mozzie.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 24:30
Peter invites Mozzie in for a drink. Neal tries to hint to Mozzie, ‘No, no, don’t, don't accept’. But Peter insists.
[Act 3] And we can reasonably conclude that what he's trying to do is force the situation about the pawn ticket and the coin, because he did hear that comment when Mozzie first arrived. Of course, when Peter insists that Mozzie join them for a drink, Mozzie eagerly agrees with those immortal words, “Gin's good.” After they've had their conversation, and they've been drinking for a while, Peter starts steering the conversation the direction he wants it to go.
Man, look at that view. Is this why you guys do it? Is this what it's all about?
It's not about the stuff. It's about doing what we wanna do. Playing by the rules only makes borders that just take away everything that's good about living life. Long as I don't have to live under anyone else's time or dime, I'm a free man. I can do whatever I want.
Like going to the pawnshop and getting that coin you have in your pocket? Come on. Let's see it. Oh, it's a hell of a thing.
Islamic dinar from the Abbasid dynasty. Last seen in the museum in Mosul.
I really shouldn't even know about this. I'm holding damning evidence, and I can't do a damn thing with it.
Your rules, tin man, not mine.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 25:59
I can see it now... “FBI agent illegally obtains evidence. News at 11:00.”
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 26:05
Now, Peter is obviously interested in finding out about the coin, and getting Mozzie to reveal the coin. And he's clearly using the conversation about, ‘is this why you guys do it’, to set the stage for getting Mozzie to do that—to reveal the coin. But at the same time, he does seem interested in their motives for the life path that they've chosen. And that makes sense. As an FBI agent, he not only would want and need to understand how criminals think with regard to how they commit their crimes, but also he would want to know why and how they chose the life of crime in a more general way.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 26:51
And during the conversation, we discover that Mozzie used to liv, “Book of Hours” when Mozzie and Neal were inspecting the bottle, and Neal found the hidden map on the label and asked Mozzie to take it back and study it. Now Peter again reiterates that there's nothing he can do with the coin legally because of how the information about it was obtained. But he does think that he can still use the coin to try to apply pressure to Alisha Teagan.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 27:25
They set up a meeting between Neal and Alisha Teagan under the pretext of Neal giving her a scoop on a high level cover up in Iraq involving a soldier. She tries to put it off and avoid the conversation, but the fact that Neal has showed up in person to meet her makes that impossible. So Neal begins to tell Teagan the story, and she realizes that she's trapped. So she gives Peter a confession. But she doesn't have enough answers or evidence to lock up the case against Aimes, so Peter insists that she helps set him up.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 27:57
Here is where we get into a rather convoluted technical and hopefully not too boring discussion on the rules of evidence, or at least part of the rules of evidence. Now, I said earlier a couple of times that the coin and the pawn ticket that led them to the coin probably couldn't be admitted as evidence, and now…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:18
[Exclusionary Rule] …this is based on the exclusionary rule. According to the legal information Institute at Cornell University, the exclusionary rule prevents the government from using most evidence gathered in violation of the United States Constitution. The decision and Mapp v. Ohio established that the exclusionary rule applies to evidence gained from an unreasonable search or seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 28:41
Further, if evidence that falls within the scope of the exclusionary rule led law enforcement to other evidence, which they would not otherwise have located, then the exclusionary rule applies to the newly discovered evidence as well, subject to a few exceptions. The secondarily excluded evidence is called…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 29:01
[Fruit of the Poisonous Tree] …”fruit of the poisonous tree”. The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine extends the exclusionary rule to make evidence inadmissible in court if it was derived from evidence that was obtained illegally. As a metaphor suggests, if the evidential tree is tainted, so is its fruit.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 29:19
Now, the exceptions that were referenced earlier: the first exception is…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 29:26
[Exlusionary Rule Continues: Good Faith Exception] …the “good faith exception”. Under the good faith exception, evidence is not excluded if it is obtained by officers who reasonably rely on a search warrant that turns out to be invalid. That would not seem to apply here because there was no search warrant issued. Neal broke into her desk and stole the evidence. Plus, he is not an officer, which brings us to…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 29:49
[Exlusionary Rule Continues: Independent Source Doctrine] …the “independent source doctrine”. The independent source doctrine allows evidence obtained in an unlawful search to be admissible if the officers obtained it from an independent source. So, if somebody like Neal obtained evidence illegally, and then turned it over to the police, as long as the police obtained it from this independent source, but that doesn't seem to apply here, either, because Neal is not really an independent source. He's not only a consultant to the FBI, but he's their responsibility. Unlike an informant or an independent consultant, his actions are controlled by and overseen by the FBI. So he can't really be considered an independent source, therefore, this one wouldn't apply.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:31
Now, the third exception is…
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:33
[Exlusionary Rule Continues: Attenuation Doctrine] …the attenuation doctrine. And here's where things get into the weeds because this, the third exception to the exclusionary rule has itself multiple provisions. So if you don't want to follow this, skip ahead a little bit. Otherwise, I will try and make this as clear cut and unconvoluted as I possibly can. But we're talking about the law here so it's kind of convoluted.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:56
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 30:57
The attenuation doctrine allows evidence to be admitted when the connection between the unconstitutional police practice is remote, or has been interrupted by an intervening circumstance so that the violation is not served by suppression.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:14
The first of the factors considered is the amount of time between the unconstitutional conduct and discovery of the evidence. Generally, the closer in time, the more likely it will be that the evidence will be suppressed. Now, in this case, the time between the misconduct and the finding of the evidence was fairly quick. So this would not be a grounds on which to overlook the exclusionary rule.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 31:41
The second possibility is the purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct. The more flagrant misconduct, the more it needs to be deterred. Negligence, errors in judgment, and so on, are not enough. Systemic or recurrent police misconduct is required. Now, purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct doesn't seem a likely basis to disregard the exclusionary rule here, because—two reasons: First, Neal isn't an agent. And the rule wouldn't seem to apply to him because the rule seems to be based on the presumption that the individual in question is a certified law enforcement officer; Second, Peter, who is an active and certified law enforcement officer—essentially, Neal's probationary officer, and therefore, along with Hughes, and essentially the rest of the FBI Bureau—is responsible for Neal's behavior and ensuring that he complies with the law while in their charge. The rule would apply to them, and they would know that this behavior and action would likely be considered misconduct. So since they would know that the concept of it being an error in judgment or negligence wouldn't seem to be appropriate. So this would not be grounds to override the exclusionary rule.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 32:59
The third possibility that we give grounds for overriding the exclusionary rule is the presence of “intervening circumstances”. Now, I'm not a lawyer, but as I read the relevant definitions of intervening circumstances, it seems to be that evidence that might otherwise be excluded can be admitted, if something occurs that is outside of the control or direct action of law enforcement, which would give cause for an action which otherwise would have been illegal. But because of this intervening action, it essentially nullifies the illegal action.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 33:32
One of the sources I referenced in researching the intervening circumstances clause was a reference to the case of Utah versus Strieff. Now in Utah v. Strieff, officers received anonymous tips about narcotics activity at a residence. Officers conducted a surveillance of the residence and saw persons arriving and leaving the house in short durations, which they knew to be evidence of drug dealing. After a week or so of surveillance, the officers made a pedestrian stop on an individual who left the house. Officers had not seen the suspect enter the house. As part of the stop, officers asked for his identification, which the suspect provided. The officer ran the defendant’s ID and learned that the defendant had a traffic warrant. Defendant was then arrested on the warrant and was searched incident to the arrest. In that search methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were found on the defendant. Now, while the court found that the officer made two good faith mistakes—stopping the suspect without knowing how long he'd been in the house, and then demanding he talk to them rather than asking the defendant to speak—the illegal stop was considered an isolated incident. The court found that once the officers discovered the warrant, there was an obligation to arrest the defendant and search him subsequent to that arrest. So in other words, their stopping the defendant and questioning him and demanding to see his ID might have been illegal, but once they checked his ID and discovered that he had a warrant out for his arrest, that overrode their improper actions and made everything that they had done that would have previously been illegal and therefore inadmissible, legal. It's like I said, it’s—it's convoluted, but that's the law. The law is convoluted; does not make any common sense.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 35:15
Now, the presence of intervening circumstances might seem to apply here because Alisha Teagan agreed to spill her guts to Peter. But that seems unlikely. The admission by Alisha Teagan of her involvement in the crime and her detailing the actions of Patrick Aimes in setting up the crime seems like intervening circumstances.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 35:36
But here's where the last impediment to the evidence being used comes in. And that is back to the fruit of the poisonous tree. Alicia's Tegan's confession, and even her decision to talk to Peter, was based on the fact that Neal and by extension the FBI—because he was a consultant, and also in their custody, essentially, as a released convict into their care—they had the coin that she had pawned which they only had because they had made a photocopy of the pawn ticket, which they didn't have the legal right to do. But by presenting her with that coin that they got as a result of that the entire conversation that she had with Peter might be considered to have been coerced. The fact that the coercion and the resulting admission was the result of tainted evidence—that was the coin that they obtained from the pawn ticket and the pawn ticket that they obtained the copy of illegally—and the fact that they couldn't, or probably wouldn't have gotten it except for the fact that they had obtained it illegally, would taint her statements under the fruit of the poisonous tree extension to the exclusionary rule.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 36:41
So again, the upshot of all this is that by breaking into the office and Alicia Egan's desk, Neal made it more difficult to prove the case since any evidence they gathered from this point forward that in any way involves the pawn ticket, the coin, or anything that is obtained as a result of them having the pawn ticket or coin, could be inadmissible in court. Or at the very least, it would seem to give the defense of ground for challenging all the evidence and possibly a guilty verdict on appeal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 37:20
So now that we've taken that amazing, and amazingly boring side trip, let's get back to the actual details of the episode.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 37:28
[Act 3 Continues] So after Alicia Keegan makes her confession, but is unable to provide Peter with the evidence needs to tie Aimes to the crime, and Peter tells Teagan, 'Hey, you're gonna have to cooperate and help us set up Aimes’, the plan is developed to have Neal poses a wealthy buyer, and then have Teagan introduce him to Aimes to make the deal.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 37:53
[Act 4] But there's a problem. And the problem is, Neal has an issue with the plan.
Lauren Cruz 37:59
So, Ames is willing to meet you at a private gallery later today?
Neal Caffrey 38:01
Apparently, I'm a wealthy buyer.
Clinton Jones 38:03
And this is your car for the day.
Neal Caffrey 38:05
[Laughs] …You’re not... you're not kidding.
Lauren Cruz 38:09
It's a Mercedes.
Neal Caffrey 38:10
Oh, this isn't even an S-Class. I need to look like I can drop a few million on antiquities. This says, “Look what I kept in the divorce.”
Lauren Cruz 38:18
Really? You can't make this work? What kind of a con man are you? The Neal Caffrey I did my thesis on could make this work.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 38:26
Well, it seems that Lauren Cruz can't quite make up her mind about Neal and how she wants to respond to him because here she seems to be engaging in a little bit of backhanded flirting. And within that flirting she's also challenging Neal's credibility and reputation as a con artist, almost…almost as if to tell him that even though he thinks he's clever, apparently he's not really clever enough to make the Mercedes they got for him to use, work.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 38:54
Well, because Neal says that the Mercedes won't pass muster.—I mean, it's not even an S Class, whatever that means. I don't know anything about Mercedes. Maybe you do. If you do, let me know exactly what all that means. But anyway, he decides that he and Mozzie have to steal a car without really stealing it. So they scam a limo rental company to get something that Neal deems a little more appropriate for the character that he's to portray in this meeting with Aimes. Neal, Lauren and Alicia Tegan arrived in the limo with Mozzie driving. Jones comments that the driver looks familiar and asks, ‘is he one of ours’? So he recognizes Mozzie but he doesn't seem to recall where. We know of course, that was from the pilot episode where he was following Neal and Peter, and saw Mozzie give Neal the cigarette. Anyway, Peter’s response here is curious because after all he does seem…he does seem to have some knowledge of Mozzie as was evidenced by his comment back in Neal's apartment, but as far as we know he's never met or seen Mozzie as indicated by his comments, again back in the pilot episode. So presumably after that pilot where Jones had made the observation about Mozzie passing the information on Neal, apparently Peter had done some research on Mozzie. So again, given that he knew some information about Mozzie back in the apartment but didn't seem to know his name, or at least some of his names, or his real name, at least, you have to wonder if his research on Mozzie was incomplete or inaccurate, or exactly what the problem with it was.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 40:36
Neal, Lauren, Cruz and Alicia meet with Aimes, who seems to be trying to test Neal with some inaccurate statements about the Ptolemaic period. And this is similar to what Peter did with Tony field, the supposedly rare book dealer back in the pilot episode. The difference is that Neal did what anyone with knowledge on a particular subject in question would do—correct the misstatement to demonstrate their qualifications and their authenticity. Whereas Field didn’t. As the conversation between Neal and Aimes progresses, and Neal reveals the fact that he knows that the genuine artifacts are actually out there on display and that they are not copies, it seems Alicia is not able to keep up the act, which alerts Aimes to the fact that the meeting could be a setup.
Neal Caffrey 41:28
What's going on?
Patrick Aimes 41:29
Don't play games with me. You're with the FBI.
Neal Caffrey 41:35
Technically, I'm just a consultant. She's with the FBI.
Patrick Aimes 41:38
Regardless, no need for a fifth wheel.
Neal Caffrey 41:45
Looks like we have a standoff.
Lauren Cruz 41:47
No, we don't. Shoot him. Then I'll have you on murder, too. Go on.
1st FBI agent 41:53
Gun on the ground. Gun on the ground right now.
2nd FBI agent 41:56
Hands on your head.
Neal Caffrey 41:58
Nice bluff. I know you were bluffing. 'Cause it's what I would have done.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 42:07
Well, it seems that the Lauren Cruz teeter-totter is back against Neal. It seems like Neal is someone in which she no longer has any interest. She uses him as a gambling chip and she seems genuine that bet. Granted, she is betting that says bodyguard won't shoot Neal, but she doesn't really know that for certain. And when Neal says, 'nice bluff’, she gives him a look that seems to say, ‘Who was bluffing? Not me’. And I really have to think that in some way, this is a little bit of payback for Neal trying to take credit for her taking down Ghovat in the Threads episode.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 42:46
At the same time, Peter is chasing Aimes outside and they run out back where Mozzie is sitting and parked. And Mozzie is apparently enjoying the high-life, eating Chinese takeout and drinking champagne while sitting in a limo listening to opera. And of course, when Peter appears chasing Aimes, he ends up running down Aimes with the car and then tells Peter, ‘I was never here’, then takes off.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 43:12
So the FBI finds all the , or the remaining artifacts, the ones that weren't melted down. They arrest Aimes and Teagan, and Peter brings John Michell back to the house for reunion with his wife, Dana.
Elizabeth Burke 43:28
I'm really proud of you.
Peter Burke 43:30
Oh, John's free 'cause of you, El. Yeah, if you hadn't given me that push.
Elizabeth Burke 43:34
Well, it was more like a nudge.
Peter Burke 43:35
Elizabeth Burke 43:36
Maybe a little love tap.
Peter Burke 43:38
More like a left hook.
Elizabeth Burke 43:40
He must be really happy he's going home.
Peter Burke 43:44
He's not the only one.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 43:52
Okay, I admit it. I'm a sucker for the Peter/Elizabeth relationship. And we see that, despite the fact that Elizabeth placed Peter in a difficult position by essentially forcing him to take on a case that he shouldn't have been involved in—probably in violation of agency protocol—he doesn't resent her for it, and actually gives her credit for the result.
Eric Alton-Glenn Hilliard 44:16
[Closing] Well, that's the end of Flip of the Coin. And as always, I will be providing links to all the resources I've mentioned, and additional links to other resources that I used in researching my comments. Those will be in the show notes and at the official website, which is WhiteCollaredPC.com. And on that website you will find ways that you can communicate with the show and with me personally. Thank you for listening to this episode, and please be sure to join me for the next episode as I share my thoughts on episode number five, entitled The Portrait. Until then, take care and God bless.