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Recap / Law And Order S 14 E 10 Ill Conceived

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Arnold Zachary, the owner of a clothing factory which employs mainly Latino workers, is found beaten to death. Security footage leads the police to a bakery employee named Miguel Camacho; his girlfriend Maria works for Arnold and has recently had a baby. Upon meeting her son, who is clearly mixed-race, Green and Briscoe correctly work out Zachary was the baby's father. Miguel confesses to murder, but his lawyer gets it overturned on a technicality. McCoy and Southerlyn now have no case left until they learn that Zachary was sending Maria monthly checks during her pregnancy despite her having quit the company. Under questioning, Miguel admits that Maria had the baby as part of a surrogacy agreement with Zachary and his wife Helen.


In court the defense claims that Zachary forced Maria to carry the baby with the threat of having her and Miguel, who don't have green cards, deported. On the witness stand, Helen Zachary portrays herself and her husband as callously taking advantage of Maria. Southerlyn realizes that Helen had her own arrangement with Miguel: she would get him acquitted if he let her keep the baby. With a tape-recorded conversation proving this, Miguel comes clean. Maria didn't want to give up her baby, and Zachary threatened to have her and Miguel deported, so Miguel killed him. Miguel agrees to a deal for Manslaughter I, after which he will be deported anyway; Maria has already fled the country with the baby.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Adoption Is Not an Option: The Zacharys apparently never considered it; Helen implies that she wouldn't accept anything "less" than a biologically related child.
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  • Baby Factory: Helen tries to portray herself and Zachary as treating Maria this way so the jury will be sympathetic to Miguel and acquit. McCoy and Branch seem to feel that all commercial surrogacy treats women as breeding machines.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: While Zachary seems to have treated his workers well, he hired mainly undocumented immigrants so he could pay them less.
  • Double-Meaning Title
  • Happily Married: Arnold and Helen Zachary. Miguel and Maria would be this but they can't legally get a marriage licence.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Averted. The detectives initially think this is Miguel's motive, only to find out he was completely aware of (and agreed to) her surrogacy arrangement with Zachary.
  • May–December Romance: The Zacharys.
  • The Illegal: Miguel and Maria.
  • Latin Lover: Miguel's lawyer refers to this stereotype, claiming that crimes of passion are common in his culture.
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  • Law of Inverse Fertility
  • Rich Bitch: Helen Zachary.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Miguel's defense is based on arguing that Zachary did this. While McCoy doesn't approve of Miguel's lawyer's tactics, he does think that commercial surrogacy exploits impoverished women.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Averted - Mrs. Zachary couldn't have her own baby and, without the surrogate child, she has nothing left of her husband.

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