Alan Shore and Brad Chase represent Kelly Nolan (Heather Locklear), a cold-as-ice- beauty dubbed "The Black Widow" by the media, on trial for poisoning her wealthy and much older husband. Denny Crane lusts after Mrs. Nolan and begs Shore to let him lend a hand in any way possible. Denise Bauer enlists junior associates Garrett Wells and Sara Holt to assist her on a case involving a Jewish man who feels his civil rights were violated when his Christian co-workers held Bible readings in the workplace. To complicate matters, Denise's husband serves her with divorce papers in front of them. Meanwhile, Shirley Schmidt and Tara Wilson (Rhona Mitra) defend a respected surgeon accused of sexually assaulting a mute woman, who ultimately testifies by very unconventional means. Shore is taken aback when he finds out that opposing counsel on the case is Tara's former lover, Malcolm Holmes (Rupert Everett).
In the midst of a media circus, the murder trial of Kelly Nolan (Heather Locklear), AKA 'The Black Widow,' gets underway with defense team Alan Shore, Brad Chase and Denny Crane. Can they pull off an acquittal in this seemingly un-winnable case, with the media playing judge and jury and a defendant who is unapologetically cold as ice? Meanwhile Denise Bauer, intent on avoiding alimony payment to her soon-to-be-ex-husband, enlists the help of junior associates Garrett Wells and Sara Holt to challenge the constitutionality of no-fault divorce; Holmes (Rupert Everett) convinces Tara (Rhona Mitra), who's desperately trying to avoid his charming advances, to help represent his client, Johnny Damon (Russell Andrews) -- Damon, singer Edwin Starr's nephew, wants to be allowed to sing his late uncle's trademark song, "War," at a club where the owner has deemed the song un-American -- and a frightened Catherine (Betty White) goes to the police when Bernard (Leslie Jordan) calmly tells her that he fantasizes about committing another murder.
Reeling over his break-up with Tara, Alan Shore heads to Nimmo Bay in British Columbia with Denny Crane for some fly fishing and male bonding in an effort to cure his pain. When they learn that the salmon population is being threatened by sea lice produced by fish farms, Shore and Crane feel compelled to act. Meanwhile Catherine Piper drops a bombshell on Shirley Schmidt when she confesses to killing Bernard Ferrion (Leslie Jordan) by whacking him over the head with a skillet, and the firm scrambles to find the best way to deal with this shocking turn of events. And Sara Holt and Garrett Wells go to extremes to convince Reverend Diddum (Kurt Fuller), the divorce attorney for Denise Bauer's husband, to decrease the alimony settlement she is required to pay him.
Forced by a client to put Denny Crane on the case, Shirley Schmidt reluctantly enlists his help to defend a Democratic Congressman being sued for not keeping a campaign promise to pass a ban on assault weapons. The right-wing Crane is an unlikely defender from the start, but Schmidt really wonders if she made the right decision when he goes missing the day of his closing. Meanwhile, Alan Shore, still reeling from Tara's exit, focuses on defending Catherine Piper (Betty White), accused of murdering his client, Bernard Ferrion. And Reverend Diddum (Kurt Fuller), Denise Bauer's ex-husband's lawyer, threatens to report Sara Holt and Garret Wells to their superiors for their ruse to get him to drastically reduce his client's alimony -- but he'll forget the whole matter if Sara gives in to a sexually perverse request.
When an old case she neglected comes up for trial, Denise Bauer frantically prepares for her defense against an auto manufacturer whose defective pick-up truck caused a fire that killed a terminally ill woman. Garrett Wells' research trip to the file room of the opposing law firm turns steamy when he meets Cassie (Tamara Feldman), an audaciously outspoken paralegal. Meanwhile Alan Shore, still trying to get over Tara Wilson, takes Sara Holt to dinner and embarrasses her by giving his own public service announcement to a crowded restaurant. And when Lori Colson (Monica Potter) files an internal complaint against Denny Crane for sexual harassment, Shirley Schmidt insists that he apologize, leading Denny from the frying pan into the fire.
Shirley Schmidt and Denise Bauer represent two groups of parents, one Christian and the other Wiccan -- a pagan religion -- who are suing to get rid of a school's Halloween pageant for its wicked witch. The Christians feel their faith is being marginalized by a satanic symbol, and the Wiccans claim that Halloween images stereotype them - especially after the school's principal gives a riveting demonstration of her cackling, green witch. Meanwhile, Garrett Wells takes Cassie (Tamara Feldman), the paralegal with whom he's involved, to see Alan Shore and ask him to represent her in suing the U.S. government, to vindicate the death of her brother, killed in the Iraq war. Shore takes on the unconventional case, but his friendship with Denny Crane is threatened since Crane strongly feels that one shouldn't criticize the military while the country is at war. The strained friendship threatens the annual office Halloween party, where they both were to dress up as giant flamingoes.
Denny Crane is appalled that he should have to do pro bono work for a non-repentant man who raped and killed a 13-year-old girl, so he goes to extremes to get off the case - an effort that lands him in jail. Meanwhile, Alan Shore and Brad Chase defend a TV station that has fired Zozo the Clown (Joel McKinnon Miller) for talking to his young viewers about environmental issues. During the trial, Brad is surprised to learn that Alan's childhood fear of clowns prevents him from addressing Zozo in court. And, when a long-time client comes to Shirley Schmidt to stop his wife's action to annul their 23-year marriage, Schmidt is taken aback when she learns how the man cheated on his wife.
When Alan Shore experiences the return of his night terrors - where he sleepwalks and could physically hurt himself - he asks his new, attractive secretary, Melissa, if she would moonlight and sleep with him to keep him from hurting himself. Meanwhile, if Alan agrees to get an MRI for his night terrors, then Denny Crane will agree to undergo one to determine whether he has Alzheimer's or Mad Cow disease. Meanwhile, Shirley Schmidt is reluctant to take a case in which the teenaged son of a rich client is accused of vehicular manslaughter, and she becomes even more reluctant when she has to interview the only eye witness, an elderly woman with Alzheimer's. And Denise Bauer is asked to represent two women who claim that Boston's most famous plastic surgeon injected his own butt fat into their lips, when they believed the fat was coming from their bodies.
While Denise Bauer shops with her housekeeper and the woman's four-year-old son, the unthinkable happens when the boy is kidnapped by a known pedophile. An FBI special agent tells them that technicalities prevent the Bureau from getting involved, but he strongly suggests that, as private citizens, Denise and Brad Chase conduct their own investigation. Their frantic search eventually takes them to Father Ryan (Richard Fancy), a priest who refuses to help since he can't break his confessional seal. Meanwhile, a homeless man throws a rock at Denny Crane for not acknowledging his request for money and Denny shoots him - with a paintball gun. When the man shows up at Crane, Poole & Schmidt for compensation, Denny adamantly refuses to consider his request, but Alan Shore takes the man's case, pitting the friends against each other.
Brad Chase pushes for an immediate trial after he is arrested for impersonating an FBI officer and assaulting a priest during the rescue of a kidnapped child. Shirley Schmidt is worried about how this case may reflect on the firm and is reluctant to consent to Brad's request for the erratically-behaving Denny Crane to be the lead attorney. Meanwhile, Alan Shore tries to bail out his secretary, Melissa (Marisa Coughlan), who is in serious credit card debt, and seeks the assistance of the firm's quirky but brilliant bank and finance genius.
The law firm represents Daniel Post (Michael J. Fox), a CEO battling terminal lung cancer who used his status with a pharmaceutical company to ensure that he receive the non-placebo in a promising anti-cancer drug test. Now, another participant in the test study is suing him. During one of Post's visits to Crane, Poole & Schmidt, the charismatic man meets and becomes romantically involved with the firm's Denise Bauer. Meanwhile, Denny Crane is attracted to Beverly Bridge (Joanna Cassidy), a fifty-year-old attractive predator trolling for a husband amongst her high-net-worth peers. And Alan Shore advocates on behalf of "Hands" (Christian Clemenson), a fellow quirky employee in his quest for partnership at Crane, Poole & Schmidt.
Daniel Post (Michael J. Fox) convinces his new love, Denise Bauer, that he should second-chair in her case against overbearing parents who harass their teenaged daughter's teacher. Meanwhile, Shirley Schmidt makes life difficult for Alan Shore as he prepares his defense of Jerry "Hands" Espenson (Christian Clemenson), the firm's brilliant but quirky attorney who held a cake knife to Shirley's throat. And the partners at Crane, Poole and Schmidt worry about Denny Crane's impending nuptials and the kind of influence his future wife, Beverly Bridge (Joanna Cassidy), could have over the firm.
Alan Shore bails out Catherine Piper (Betty White) after she goes on a spree of convenience store holdups. Meanwhile, Denise Bauer sues an HMO for inadequate internet security that led to a brutal murder -- all the while trying to get through to her hospitalized boyfriend, Daniel Post (Michael J. Fox), who won't take her phone calls. And, as the partners begin to see Beverly Bridge's influence on Denny Crane, Brad Chase makes her a proposition and tries to convince her to leave Denny.
The terminally ill Daniel Post (Michael J. Fox) hosts his own funeral, an event that Denise Bauer would rather not attend. Meanwhile, Alan Shore takes an interest in a woman who causes a political uproar when she leads a protest with hundreds of bare-breasted women. And Catherine Piper (Betty White), who is now the office building's new sandwich lady, decides that the office of junior associate Garrett Wells is the perfect spot for her to do her accounting work.
Alan Shore files a discrimination suit against a private school that refuses to admit a gifted nine-year-old girl with nerve damage that makes it impossible for her to smile. Since Brad Chase's attempt to bribe Denny Crane's fiancée, Beverly Bridge (Joanna Cassidy), failed miserably, she threatens to tell Denny what happened unless Brad can find a legal loophole to save her sickly cat from her ex-husband, who wants to take it off of life support. Meanwhile, Shirley Schmidt and Julie Bauer defend a teenaged girl who was brutally raped and is now pregnant. The girl wants to sue the Catholic hospital where she was treated because they refused to provide her with emergency contraception.
While trying to woo her back, Shirley Schmidt's ex-husband, Ivan Tiggs (Tom Selleck), wants her to be his 'best man' at his upcoming wedding with an annoyingly perky woman. Meanwhile, Paul Lewiston's estranged daughter, Rachel, who he claims blindly stole from him to feed her drug and alcohol habits, comes back into his life after seven years. And Alan Shore defends a man who said he was only complying with his wife's wishes when he assisted in ending her life.
Within three hours of getting married, Denny Crane is caught with another woman and Bev Bridge (Joanna Cassidy) demands an annulment plus 50% of her brand new husband's worth. While the attorneys from Crane, Poole & Schmidt frantically rally around their colleague to rescue him, Bev hires the slick, handsome divorce lawyer Eli Granger (Corbin Bernsen) to represent her. Meanwhile, Alan Shore defends Joan Zeder (Nicole Sullivan), who was fired from her job after being unable to adhere to the company's strict no-smoking policy.
Denny Crane finds just the right thing to cure his depression after his one-day-old marriage falls apart: The case of a man arrested for electrocuting and paralyzing a burglar. Meanwhile Shirley Schmidt seeks Alan Shore's help when nude photos of her taken by a famous photographer are put up for auction. And a suspicious Paul Lewiston asks Brad Chase to befriend his daughter to find out if she's still using drugs.
When Alan Shore's secretary, Melissa (Marisa Coughlan), is arrested for tax evasion, he takes on the case of this outspoken girl who says her late, patriotic grandfather would be proud of her for challenging the government. Meanwhile, after a blind date with Shirley Schmidt's nephew goes badly, Denise Bauer hopes her love life will improve when she meets a cute policeman. And Paul Lewiston decides to stage an intervention for his crystal-meth-using daughter, insisting that a reluctant Brad Chase help him.
While Shirley Schmidt and former husband Ivan Tiggs (Tom Selleck) work together on a divorce case involving a couple arguing over their Victorian erotica collection, the recently remarried Ivan tries once again to woo Shirley back into his life. Meanwhile, now that Paul Lewiston is single-handedly taking care of his three-year-old granddaughter, his presence at the firm is sporadic and his absence is sorely felt. And, after Catherine Piper (Betty White) helps her 83-year-old friend, Adele (Norma Michaels), escape from the hospital where her court assigned conservator had placed her, Alan Shore steps in to help Adele regain control of her life.
It's a rough day in court for Alan Shore when he experiences an inexplicable case of "word salad" - a horrifying condition that causes him to speak unintelligible gibberish. To ease Shore's anxiety, Denny Crane recommends that they enjoy a day at the spa. Meanwhile, Denise Bauer defends a polygamist whose wives believe their husband has done nothing wrong and are willing to fight for their beliefs. And Brad Chase defends his college buddy's video game company, which is being sued by the mother of a boy who died after playing one of their games for two days straight.
Shirley Schmidt begins an affair with her ex-husband, Ivan Tiggs (Tom Selleck), believing that he has left his new wife, Missy (Meredith Patterson). Then Missy -- who is still with Ivan -- suspects her husband is cheating on her and asks for Schmidt's help. Meanwhile, Alan Shore agrees to be co-counsel on an attempted murder case with Jerry Espenson (Christian Clemenson), who has been in therapy since holding a cake knife to Schmidt's throat.
During Denny Crane's therapy session with Dr. Sydney Fields (Peter MacNicol), a verbal showdown between the two results in Denny's shooting the doctor. While Alan Shore defends Denny in court, the law partners discuss whether the time has come to oust Crane from the firm. Meanwhile, Alan runs into Chelina Hall (Kerry Washington) and their old chemistry returns when he enlists her help in a racially charged case. And Brad Chase learns that he can't keep a girl because he's a lousy kisser, so he asks Denise Bauer to give him lessons.
Edwin Poole (Larry Miller), a partner in the law firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, returns to work after a stint at a mental institution. But Shirley Schmidt wonders if he should have been released when he decides to help an obese computer technician sue a junk food manufacturer for causing his diabetes. Denny Crane represents Alan Shore, after Shore is arrested for advising a client accused of attempted murder to flee the county. Meanwhile, after their unexpected rendezvous, Brad Chase wants to explore the possibility of a relationship with Denise Bauer.
The ambitious but back-stabbing Marlene Stanger (Parker Posey), also known as "The Squid" - the only animal believed to be able to kill a shark - joins the firm, and Denise Bauer wonders if there's enough room for the both of them. Meanwhile, when Denny Crane is pitted in court against his son, attorney Donny Crane (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), their politically different viewpoints come to the surface as they seek justice in a case about a woman who lost her baby at an inadequately supplied clinic in Nepal. And, after Paul Lewiston's daughter, Rachel, returns from rehab, Brad Chase hopes they can pursue a relationship.
Denny Crane and Alan Shore travel to the Los Angeles office of Crane, Poole & Schmidt for business and wind up unexpectedly taking on a case with a decidedly Hollywood flavor. Once there, they spend time with senior partner Barry Goal (Robert Wagner), a powerful and cagey attorney who, like Crane, is no stranger to the spotlight. Back in Boston, Shirley Schmidt must once again defend Professor Clifford Cabot (Ed Begley, Jr.), this time on charges of soliciting a prostitute -- an act he claims was purely for the purposes of academic research. Denise Bauer and Marlene Stanger (Parker Posey), who are both vying for partnership at the firm, compete to assist Schmidt in the case. Meanwhile, Brad Chase's teenaged niece is accused of giving pharmaceutical drugs to a boy at a party and is charged with his murder.
Alan Shore takes on the attempted murder trial of the beautiful and sexy Courtney Rae (Jeri Ryan), a Hollywood celebrity who shot a paparazzo she felt was a threat to her life. Meanwhile both Denny Crane and the LA firm's senior partner, Barry Goal, are captivated with Ms. Rae. Denise Bauer thinks the sly new associate, Marlene Stanger (Parker Posey), will ruin her chances of making partner, so she employs some back-stabbing techniques of her own. And, after Brad Chase's sister fires him from defending his teenaged niece at her murder trial, the girl takes it upon herself to re-hire her uncle.