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Characters / The Wire - Courthouse

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"I wouldn't wipe my ass with a Baltimore lawyer."

Once the cases the BPD brings in go to trial, they are in the capable - or not as the case may be - hands of the Baltimore City legal profession. The show focuses mainly on the State's Attorney's office in Baltimore, and their stable of prosecutors and grand jurors, as well as Judge Phelan, an old friend of McNulty's whose complaints to Burrell start the investigation into the Barksdale Organization in season 1. The prosecutors at the courthouse are generally portrayed as quite morally upstanding, especially for Baltimore, but sadly the same cannot be said of drug lawyer Maurice Levy, who commits violation after violation of just about every rule of lawyers' professional ethics.

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    Rhonda "Ronnie" Pearlman 
Played by: Deidre Lovejoy
"The front office is going to go batshit!"

Your client walks away now, or the both of you don't walk at all.

Assistant State's Attorney. She handles the cases brought in by Daniels' department. Rhonda tries to walk a fine line between bringing in quality casework and protecting/advancing her own career, and a few times gets blindsided by Lester (and his tendency to issue subpoenas against politically connected individuals, like her boss) and Jimmy (who browbeats Maurice Levy in defiance of the professional deference that Rhonda wishes to show him). She had an affair with McNulty, which is part of what caused his marriage to end, though by the start of the series, the romance has cooled off. Later in the series, she starts a relationship with Cedric Daniels after he and his wife separate; the romance is still ongoing as of the series finale, in which Rhonda avoids being scapegoated for McNulty's plot and becomes a judge.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Deconstructed. She began an affair with McNulty while he was still married. And even after he left his wife, he would only be with her for sexual favors, and blatantly told her so at one point. Rhonda, eventually wises up, and begins an actual and healthy relationship with Daniels.
  • Ambition Is Evil: She always has one eye on the implications for her career and frequently brings them up to others to attempt to justify her point of view. McNulty confronts her about the implications of her ambitions when she points out that pushing too hard against Levy would mean antagonizing the whole profession, a terrible thing for her career.
    Jimmy: If only half you motherfuckers at the district attorney's office didn't want to be judges, didn't want to be partners in some downtown law firm... If half of you had the fucking balls to follow through, you know what would happen? A guy like that would be indicted, tried and convicted. And the rest of 'em would back up enough, so we could push a clean case or two through your courthouse. But no, everybody stays friends. Everybody gets paid. And everybody's got a fucking future.
  • Catchphrase: "Cedric!" note 
  • Dude Magnet: McNulty, Daniels, and Judge Phelan all certainly can agree.
  • Hello, Attorney!: An attractive lawyer who attracts about three men (see Dude Magnet) in the series.
  • Hypocrite: Rhonda is crushed by McNulty cheating on her, but she had no problem with having an affair with a him when he was with his wife.
  • In-Series Nickname: Usually referred to as "Ronnie".
  • Iron Lady: A firm and unwavering attorney who often takes difficulties in stride or talks down allies and foes alike.
  • Matzo Fever: Provokes this reaction frequently, though her Jewishness is never especially emphasized.
  • Official Couple:
    • Averted with her and McNulty; he only wanted to be with her for sexual favors and she got fed up with it.
    • Played straight with her and Daniels.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: She uses Judge Phelan's attraction to her to get favorable rulings out of him in a few cases with weak probable causes.
    Daniels: Quite the legal mind.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Ultimately gets fed up with McNulty, and begins a relationship with the responsible, hardworking Daniels who is actually interested in a relationship and doesn't even think of sleeping with other women.
  • Where Da White Women At?: She and Daniels must initially keep their relationship a secret because it becoming known that Daniels was divorcing his wife Marla and dating a white woman instead would harm Marla's political career.
  • Working with the Ex: She and McNulty are carrying on a discontinuous affair at the start of the show, which causes some awkwardness later in their professional relationship.

    Daniel Phelan 
Played by: Peter Gerety
"See you at sentencing."

Mr. Hilton, are you the second coming of our savior?.

The judge who presides over D'Angelo Barksdale murder case. After a witness changes her statement, leading to a non-guilty verdict, Phelan summons McNulty to enquire about it, only to discover the Barksdales are not being investigated at all. The judge takes this very seriously and makes it a priority, opening a can of worms as the police chiefs are clueless. Grudgingly, the Major Crimes detail ensues to appease him and the media.

  • Actually Pretty Funny: He does nothing to hide his genuine amusement at Omar's unorthodox testimony, chuckling out loud several times.
  • Badass Boast: To McNulty: "Who's your daddy now?" Later subverted, and mocked, by McNulty when Phelan withdraws his support for the Barksdale detail due to political pressure.
  • Big Good: He kickstarts the Barksdale case (flying under the radar until then) and by extension the Major Crimes detail (the series itself). Despite the fact he is not above political maneuvering, he is the man to go when the chain of command is locked or obstructive and takes personal offense when criminals get away.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: His attraction towards Pearlman is both notorious and exploited.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If you are a murderer seeking parole, His Honor will ask (and get you off the hook) if you are the Second Coming of Jesus.
  • Demoted to Extra: He appears during most episodes of Season 1, afterwards he only shows up for five episodes more, mostly during the Series final arc , missing Season 4 entirely.
  • Grammar Nazi: Justifiably so. Jimmy knows no better than to present an official affidavit full of mistakes. Also, many if not most judges really are very pedantic.
  • Hanging Judge: He does not like the drug trade or its dealers one bit. Notable at the end of Bird's trial, where he brushes right over Maurice Levy's (truthful) assertions that the state's key witness (Omar) has perjured himself. Admittedly, Bird did do the crime.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: His attraction towards Pearlman is well known.
  • History Repeats: Shown heeding Sydnor's lamentations in the finale, like he used to do with McNulty's.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Almost always willing to help the police and to prosecute the drug dealers, shaming the obstructive chiefs if necessary.
  • Slave to PR: He invokes the PR angle by leaking murder details to the media in order to put pressure on the police. In turn, his big good crusader status takes a dent when he panicks after being excluded from the electoral ticket, coming across as another self-serving bigwig to McNulty. The judge continues to be a very positive character after his re-election, however.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: He's a supportive old friend of Jimmy's, but his demands for actual police work and leaks of insider information to the press practically kill McNulty's career, if it existed. The support wanes in the middle of his re-election bid, but they eventually reconcile.

    Maurice Levy 
Played by: Michael Kostroff
"You don't say anything, you don't do anything, you don't write anything!"

Maurice Levy: You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You are stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city. You are a parasite who leeches off...
Omar Little: Just like you, man.
Maurice Levy: ...the culture of drugs. Excuse me? What?
Omar Little: I've got the shotgun, you've got the briefcase. It's all in the game though.

Drug lawyer for the Barksdale organization, and later, Marlo Stanfield. Very good at his job, getting cases scuttled and sentences reduced for his clients. Based on several real life Baltimore drug lawyers who happen to be Jewish. David Simon, himself Jewish, remarked he was not willing to pull a punch just to avoid a stereotype.

  • Actually Pretty Funny: His reaction when Stringer tells him that Clay Davis just walked away with thousands of dollars out of his pocket to bribe the city planning commission.
  • Amoral Attorney: He not only defends members of the Barksdale gang (as well as other drug crews), but introduces them to investors, advises them on who "needs to go", and sells confidential court papers under the counter to all comers thanks to a stooge in the courthouse Although Levy is at least realistic in that he doesn't just defend the drug lords because he's evil, but rather because he makes extra profit doing it, so he really does fit the "amoral" part. When he learns that Marlo Stanfield is using a cell phone, he says that he'll be making a lot of money from Marlo soon because the cops will have charges against him soon.
  • Bald of Evil: Becomes balder as the story progresses, and never shows one bit of honesty or remorse.
  • Evil Counterpart: Of Rhonda Pearlman.
  • Evil Genius: Functions as this (specifically as The Fixer) for the Barksdale and Stanfield crews, helping them set up fronts and side businesses to hide their activities from the police and evade prosecution.
  • Evil Laugh: He visibly tries hide one when he negotiates with the State's Attorney's Office and Police from a strong position.
  • Greedy Jew: At one point he gleefully remarks that he likes seeing his clients busted by the cops, because it means more billable hours for him.
  • Jerkass: Scathing towards D'Angelo.
  • Karma Houdini: Although thanks to Freamon's work Pearlman does hold a sword over his head in the form of evidence with which she can charge him with grand jury tampering.
  • Only in It for the Money: See Greedy Jew.
  • Pet the Dog: He shows genuine affection to Herc and treats him well. This doesn't make him any less scummy, as it just encourages Herc to do better work as a Punch-Clock Villain.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Often.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: McNulty calls him out on his immorality in "The Hunt", finally fed up with his attitude following Kima getting shot, and demands that Levy hand over Savino to them, threatening to investigate his shady finances should he refuse.
  • Smug Snake: So much so that he spends most of his negotiations with the authorities trying to stifle laughter. He's good at his job, but so arrogant he does little to earn the audience's sympathy.
  • Spotting the Thread: He realizes there is something fishy in the Stanfield case.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Rhonda mentions offhandedly that Levy is a past officer of the Monumental Bar Association, so he can't be antagonized too much.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Drops Yiddish words and phrases into his conversation constantly.

    Ilene Nathan 
Played by: Susan Rome
"What exactly do you do for a living, Mr. Little"

Imagine the mileage Maury Levy gets out of me putting that sociopath on the stand. Dress him up at least

Head of the Violent Crimes Unit, tasked with prosecuting homicides in Baltimore, later promoted to Assistant State's Attorney.

    Gary DiPasquale
Played by: Gary D'Addario

Assistant State's Attorney and Grand Jury Prosecutor.

  • Anti-Villain: Despite his corruption, he is an ok guy, as Lester puts it.
  • Boxed Crook: After being found out, Lester makes him play ball and incriminate Levy in a single party consent telephone conversation.
  • The Gambling Addict: The source of his corruption. Annual gambling losses that are more than three times his salary.
  • The Mole: He's the one leaking / selling sealed grand jury indictments to defense attorneys.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Briefly appears in five episodes. His corruption leads to Rhonda being able to blackmail Levy and get a conviction against the Stanfield gang harsher than what the weak case would sustain, what with the illegal wiretap.

    Rupert Bond
Played by: Dion Graham.

What the fuck just happened?

Candidate running for the office of Maryland State's Attorney, he is elected along with Tommy Carcetti in the 4th season. At first he proves a reasonable boss and less corrupt than his predecessors, however he overreaches when he tries to personally prosecute Clay Davis, and inadvertently blows the case, letting Clay Davis get away clean.

  • Didn't See That Coming: Hopelessly dumbfounded after Clay Davis charms the pants off the jury.
  • Glory Seeker: Combined with other factors, his decision to keep the Davis case in the local court in order to achieve a high profile conviction eventually sinks the case thanks to a gullible jury.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: He briefly looked like the heir apparent to Carcetti, but dropping the ball with the Clay Davis case kills any higher ambitions he might have, forcing Carcetti to rely on Davis during his run for governor and have Nerese replace him as Mayor of Baltimore. Nerese quickly undoes what good Tommy had been able to accomplish.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When he first comes into office, Rhonda is worried that her pre-election actions (namely Lester twisting her arm into serving subpoenas to some of the city's most powerful and corrupt players) would result in Bond reassigning her to Antarctica or worse. Instead he promotes her and practically makes her his Number Two.
  • Spanner in the Works: To the long-time brewing Federal investigation on Clay Davis. According to the US Attorney, he turned the crook into Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Despite mostly having good intentions, his attempt to get personally involved in taking down Clay Davis not only results in Clay Davis dropping him on his ass, (which mars Bond's reputation and destroys his chances of being another reform minded candidate who could continue the good things Carcetti was able to get done) but also kills a federal prosecution against Davis too. What could have been two different cases against Baltimore's own king of corruption go down in flames thanks to Bond's mistakes.

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