In the premiere episode, “Pilot,” viewers are introduced to Jimmy Brogan (Morrow), born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen and one of New York’s rising criminal defense attorney stars. Kathryn Peale (Tierney), the product of a New England background and a sheriff father, is a Deputy Bureau Chief in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. These two have been friends (but enemies in the courtroom) since their days at Yale Law School, and face off in this episode about a high school history teacher and family man who’s arrested for the rape and murder of a female student.
Aiding Kathryn in the prosecution is the DA’s Bureau Chief Terrence “Edge” Edgecomb (Eamonn Walker) and Chad Griffin (Sean Wing), a very junior ADA and a total player. Over at Jimmy’s firm, his defense team includes Alejo Salazar (Anthony Ruivivar), Jimmy’s faithful and extremely competent second, and Lena Boudreaux (Christine Adams), a recent hire angling to be Jimmy’s second on the murder case.
The Arraignment: Monica Keller is accused of killing her wheelchair-bound Navy vet dad, Frank Wanamaker, by tossing him into the harbor during the ferry ride home to Staten Island. Monica had been her dad's primary caregiver for the past three years. She's been known to fraternize with organized crime figures and prostitutes. Bailed is denied. Prosecutor Kathryn Peele slips defense attorney Jimmy Brogan a custom-made fortune cookie. There's only one word on the message inside: Guilty. Kathryn thinks she has a pretty strong case.
In the middle of trial, Judge Rubin Wright (Judd Hirsch) is arrested and asks Jimmy to be his lawyer on the spot. Jimmy accepts the case even though he has a rocky past with the stern but well-respected Judge Wright…
A 16-year-old is accused of attacking his parents, who are found lying in a pool of blood in their home; Jimmy tries to prove that an aggressive detective bullied the teen into a false confession.
A 45-year-old fashion designer is accused of murdering her young boyfriend.
Jimmy represents an accused killer from his old neighborhood; Kathryn has a case which depends on the testimony of a 12-year-old child with special needs but with a photographic memory.