Terrance Huff and The Good Wife

Monday, October 1st, 2012

So last night’s season premiere of The Good Wife was almost a word-for-word adaptation of my piece on the Terrance Huff traffic stop for Huffington Post from earlier this year. Everything from the setting (Madison County, Illinois) to the falsely alerting drug dog, the bad cop, the illegal traffic stop, the illegal search, the forfeiture corridor, it was all in there. They even threw in a little twist about recording cops in Illinois. They also mentioned Huff’s video, “Breakfast in Collinsville.”

You can watch the entire episode here.  But here’s a clip of the scene with the stop:


Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

42 Responses to “Terrance Huff and The Good Wife

  1. #1 |  Difster | 

    I’m guessing you didn’t get screen credit or royalties did you?

  2. #2 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    Off topic: Sloppy procedures in British forensic lab.

  3. #3 |  Radley Balko | 

    No credit. But unfortunately, that’s sort of how these things work. Still, it’s great to get the ideas in front of such a huge audience.

  4. #4 |  Cyphase | 

    That’s what I thought! It was great seeing that sort of stuff on a primetime fictional show (or any show for that matter). The Good Wife has always been willing to raise real life issues and come at them from a viewpoint you rarely see on television. I was disappointed at first when Alicia gave in to the cop, but considering it was to set Zach up to be the defiant one, it was all good in the end.

    Cary: “Shake is what they say when they don’t find anything.”

  5. #5 |  Terrance Huff | 

    11.5 million viewers. That’s a significant chunk of people.

  6. #6 |  Marty | 

    very nice! I’m not a tv guy, but I’ll keep an eye out for this one.

  7. #7 |  MikeV | 

    In real life, the cop would have seized the car for being involved in a drug transaction, arrested the kid for recording him, and tazed the mother just for fun.

  8. #8 |  marie | 

    Wow. Watching the short clip made me a little sick…and it is “just” a tv show. I talk to the kids frequently about saying “Are you detaining me?” and “I do not consent to any searches.” I think I will have them watch this episode. They aren’t driving yet but I want them to know long in advance about how it could go down.

  9. #9 |  Jon Seaton | 

    Thank you Radley! You sir are a journalist’s journalist!

  10. #10 |  MikeV | 

    Maybe the last lesson in a drivers education course should be on how to handle a traffic stop.

  11. #11 |  PeeDub | 

    We need this as a counterpoint to Law and Order: SVU. Kudos Good Wife!

  12. #12 |  Kutani | 

    I have mixed feelings about this. Awesome to see the issue reach such a large audience. Less awesome that it is ‘fictionalized.’ It’s the sort of thing that would cause LE folks to say ‘that only happens on TV.’

    Still, pretty cool.

  13. #13 |  Anthony | 


    When my wife’s cousin got her driver’s licence I gave her a copy of “Flex Your Rights: 10 Rules for Dealing With Police” Of course I was labeled the guy trying to help kids get away with drinking and smoking pot.

  14. #14 |  bear | 

    On screen credit or not, you got credit in the group of people I was watching it with.

    Also, I really liked the part where it was about two DAs getting obstinate with each other about their cushy little ‘revenue’ corridors.

    Oh and the handsome cop on the side of the road calling to apologize to the young fella…heck…500,000 views, and all.


  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Interesting. I’ve never seen this show, but my wife apparently recorded it so it was on the screen after we quit watching a netflix video. We only saw about two minutes of it and I immediately recognized the dashcam video and explained to my wife what I thought was probably happening with the dog.

    Reading theagitator makes us smarter. Miserably smarter, I might add. Life was much simpler back when I was a pimply faced teenager whose only mission in life was to lose his virginity (which was before I learned the cruel law of nature that says the harder a guy tries to lose his virginity the less likely it is to happen).

  16. #16 |  nigmalg | 

    “Delete that evidence son!” “Destroy that evidence of your felony or I will arrest you for a felony”.

    The more people that see this the better. Awesome.

  17. #17 |  Michael Blunk | 

    I really started to get angry after the cop called the kid out on recording him. I’m so glad to live in a single party consent state. Too bad you didn’t get a writing credit, but keep up the blogging, maybe the writers to the Good Wife read the Agitator.

  18. #18 |  mmmwright | 

    I thought of your articles as I watched the show last night – it was shocking to see some reality on what is essentially a soap opera. I really enjoyed it!

  19. #19 |  Cyto | 

    Via Drudge, here’s how they stop a dance-by silly stringing suspect in Philly. Luckily, her face stopped his fist or someone might have been hurt….

  20. #20 |  Joshua | 

    was flipping through channels last night and came in on this show during a scene dealing with this. Was interested to see the kid on the site Know your rights. I hope that helps expose some people to this issue of forfeiture laws and the scam cops and DA’s have going on that.

  21. #21 |  Personanongrata | 

    Welcome to Illinois (US) land of the tyrant and home of the slave.

  22. #22 |  Nick T. | 

    Why are the police so eager to volunteer that the stretch of highway is a “drug corridor?” That would seem to tell actual drug dealers to use different roads. Wouldn’t they keep it under wraps to catch more *unsuspecting* drug dealers? I mean, it’s almost as though the point is to justify their own behavior rather than to actually stop drug dealers.

  23. #23 |  Dante | 

    It is a positive development when prime-time TV depicts cops as lawless egotistical bullies. Most TV shows in the old days pretended that cops were the good guys who actually helped citizens.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. I hope this starts a trend of TV shows stereotyping the police as bad people.

  24. #24 |  ron | 

    this show also had an episode based on bitcoins… it seems someone in that writers room is paying attention to libertarian topics-of-note

  25. #25 |  MikeV | 

    This is why you should never talk to the police:
    Man Arrested for 7th DUI Claims Elephant Caused Accident

  26. #26 |  Dave Krueger | 

    And in other news…

    Shocking moment cop floored woman with savage sucker punch during parade because ‘she let off silly string in his face’

    Even if she threw water or silly string (as some people apparently suggest), I doubt that assault would be an acceptable response from anyone besides a cop…

  27. #27 |  Brian | 

    #24, Yep, the bitcoin episode was interesting. They also had a show last year where Alicia (the Mom / attorney in the scene above) gets assigned to fill in on a panel reviewing a police shooting and soon realizes the other members have come to treat it as a mere formality to find the shooting justified. Against the wishes of the chair she starts to actually investigate and ultimately uncovers that the police planted a “drop gun” on the victim. I’d echo those above saying it’s nice to see a show depicting a somewhat different view of police behavior than most. I hardly watch TV at all, but I have come to like this show.

  28. #28 |  Ariel | 

    Yeah, I’ve added it to my record list. If the show only addresses these issues once or twice a season it’s worth watching. However, I didn’t like the political ending on this one, while it did show the power of YouTube, because it really left me with business as usual will continue unless there is some political clout. Then again, this was Illinois.

    I live in Arizona, a state often on the forefront of issues rightly or wrongly since Hayden, even before, but Illinois gives a whole and complete meaning to corrupt and stupid. BTW, I voted Goldwater Republican by voting Goddard instead of Brewer. :>)

  29. #29 |  Bergman | 

    I wonder how they would react if you lifted part of one of their episodes verbatim and used it on your blog? I bet you’d get a takedown notice at the least.

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Found the episode “On Demand” (from the despicable Comcast) and watched it. Not a bad rendition of Radley’s reporting. Maybe they’ll be back for more.

  31. #31 |  Fascist Nation | 

    Sue for your commission and credit. ;-D

  32. #32 |  C.E. | 

    Nick T.: I’m willing to wager that every major highway in the United States is a drug corridor when a cop wants to claim probable cause to search someone. In fact, I know that in my part of Texas, cops claim every state and federal highway is a corridor for drugs, weapons, and money. Every large city is a “notorious” destination for drug trafficking. Like Houston. Houston is a notorious destination for drug dealers, so someone traveling to Houston is suspect. Or whose car is registered to an address in Houston. Or Dallas. Or San Antonio, or Austin, or Corpus Christi, etc.

    Also, when the lady said “Search if you’re going to search”, most judges will rule that she gave consent. No matter what the cop asks, the only correct answer is, “I do not give you consent to search the vehicle.” It’s the only way to be sure.

  33. #33 |  Gerald A | 

    All that was missing was the family dog for him to shoot.

  34. #34 |  MikeV | 

    If she is supposed to be a lawyer, I would have expected her to say:
    “These are my minor children and I am also their lawyer.
    On the advice on their lawyer, they will not be answering any of your questions, and neither will I.
    We do not consent to a search of this car.
    Are we free to go?”

    Of course, if she did, there would have been no show.

  35. #35 |  Nick T. | 


    That jumped out at me too. She let’s her minor child talk to the police officer alone!? That’s just bad parenting, especially from a lawyer.

  36. #36 |  PogueMahone | 

    Is that a good show? I’ve never seen it, but now I’m intrigued.


  37. #37 |  Forfeiture In The News: DOJ Flaunts Its Forfeiture Purse Power, Congrats To Radley Balko & NC5, NOAA Braces For More Revelations… | 

    […] to CBS’s The Good Wife for tackling asset forfeiture. And, plaudits to Radley Balko and NewsChannel 5 for their apparent influence on The Good Wife’s season premiere dealing […]

  38. #38 |  Rod Flash | 

    I’ve been a fan since episode 1, but was surprised by this week’s show. It’s usually just a well done drama. I was explaining to my wife about Radley and the Terrence Hill story while it was going on. My only real issue with it was the ability of the son to get other people’s dashboard camera footage. Maybe I can believe him (or his Mom) getting his, but no way would he be able to get all the others. But I agree, getting it into the mainstream can only help.

  39. #39 |  Typical Thug | 

    Delete this episode, or I will arrest you.

  40. #40 |  Rob Roy | 

    You didn’t get credit but I recognized Terrance Huff’s story and your HuffPost article immediately in the episode. They did a good job of exposing this issue.

  41. #41 |  Anton Sherwood | 

    Remember Vengeance Unlimited? In the third episode, a highway cop plants dope to seize a recreational boat.

  42. #42 |  October 15 roundup - Overlawyered | 

    […] of which, what is it about Madison County, Illinois, anyway? [Radley Balko, […]