Jerry Espenson, played by Christian Clemenson on "Boston Legal".
|Attorney at Crane, Poole & Schmidt|
|Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, described by his colleagues as a brilliant lawyer nonetheless|
|Appeared on:||Boston Legal|
|First episode |
|"Legal Deficits" (Season 2)|
|Final episode |
|"Last Call" (Season 5)|
|Episodes appeared in:||50 episodes from Seasons 2-5|
|Character played by:||Christian Clemenson|
Jerry has Asperger's Syndrome, and possibly also Tourette's Syndrome, which interferes with his ability to interact socially with other people, but also makes him a masterful interpreter of the law and its language. His expertise is in financial law. Jerry has both a Juris Doctor and an MBA from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. He is a walking lie-detector, and a talented painter. Little is known about Jerry's life prior to the series, but he reveals that he was distant from both of his parents, who never hugged him as a child. His father was a "man of firm handshakes" while he had a somewhat tense relationship with his mother. He implies that his father had Asperger's Syndrome, since he was a brilliant Cornell math professor who constantly asked people for toast. His older sister Joy used to throw rocks at Jerry to try to get him to lift his hands off his thighs to defend himself. Before working at Crane, Poole, and Schmidt, Espenson worked in an undisclosed profession where he had so little contact with other people that he dialed an information number just to hear a person's voice. He revealed that at one point during this period of isolation, he considered suicide.
Life at Crane, Poole, & SchmidtEdit
Prior to his first appearance, Jerry's Asperger's had gone undiagnosed. He makes his first appearance in the second season, when he is called in to help Alan Shore on a case. Shortly afterward, he is passed up for partnership for the third and final time by Shirley Schmidt despite fifteen years of loyal and exemplary service, due to "awkward social behavior". He subsequently loses control at an office party and holds a knife to Shirley's throat. Alan persuades Jerry to let Schmidt go on the condition that he represent him after he is charged. It is only after Jerry is on trial for the incident that his condition is diagnosed; Alan convinces Schmidt to drop the charges if Espenson agrees to receive treatment, which he does. Fired from Crane, Poole & Schmidt, Jerry opens his own law firm. Eventually, he is rehired by Shirley.
In the third season, Jerry acquires through therapy a wooden stick shaped like a cigarette (though he does not smoke) that he describes as "a proprioceptive tool". Previously his awkward personality led to difficulties in negotiating in a courtroom, and even merely talking to others, but when the stick is in his mouth, he becomes a completely different person: He uses it as a tool to mask his social deficiencies with an uncharacteristic decorum of rude, abrasive, yet glib arrogance. Many attempts to rid him of this brilliant but annoying psychological crutch are usually met with intelligent and summary refusals. Katie Lloyd has often deftly removed the cigarette from Jerry's mouth when he uses it during inappropriate times. In the fifth season, Jerry gives a patriotic, pro-gun closing argument during Denny's trial for carrying a concealed firearm at Denny's request. Denny rewards Jerry by presenting him with a wooden cigar.
Jerry becomes close personal friends with Alan, who is the first colleague to see beyond his eccentricities and who on several occasions helps him out of difficult situations, such as defending him against a charge of attempted murder, introducing him to a sexual surrogate, and providing him legal and moral support in his own court cases. Jerry mentioned to Katie Lloyd that Alan gave Jerry his first real hug. However, in the episode "The Good Lawyer", Alan and Jerry's friendship is damaged when Jerry's newfound confidence pushes Alan to a breaking point, causing Alan to harshly berate Jerry, causing him to regress to the early stages of his Asperger's. During "Guise 'n Dolls", Jerry continues to use his arrogant, offensive persona against lawyers "like [Alan Shore]": The two compete in the courtroom when Alan pursues a case against a toy manufacturer that Jerry represents. After repeated pleas from Alan to drop the persona, Jerry does so when delivering his closing statement; ultimately, Jerry wins. While Alan acknowledges that Jerry's alter ego was "brilliant", he reveals Jerry's real self is "one of the best lawyers" he's ever seen; Jerry then happily forgives Alan for berating him earlier.
In "Guantanamo By The Bay", Jerry broke the "fourth wall" on Boston Legal: When Shirley admits him back into the Crane, Poole & Schmidt firm, he mentions that there is a "happy song" he cannot get out of his head. Shirley asks him to hum a few bars in the song, and he sings the Boston Legal theme song as the opening credits roll. Further breach of the "fourth wall" by Jerry is when he alludes to the Writers Strike to explain the sudden occurrence getting into a serious relationship. Jerry becomes a regular character in season four, sharing an office with Katie Lloyd.
In "The Bad Seed" Jerry is reunited with Joy, and they are still shown to have an awkward relationship. She is controlling, brash, and rude, and Jerry still tries hard to impress her. At her request, he sues the fertility clinic where she had her son - and by extension Jerry's nephew - Henry Espenson, to see if Henry and his girlfriend Fiona have the same sperm donor. They turn out to have the same anonymous donor father, making Henry and Fiona half siblings, to their dismay.
Throughout the fifth season Jerry has become more confident, and twirls the wooden cigarette in his hand instead of sucking on it. He also makes fewer popping and purring noises. Katie has said she is glad to see Jerry coming out of his shell, but hopes he doesn't altogether abandon the old Jerry. When Jerry comes up for partner, Katie takes offense at Paul Lewiston's probing questions and accuses the entire board of being unreasonable. Jerry then gives a passionate speech and ultimately makes partner, making Jerry happy enough to cry.
Jerry's newfound confidence gets him into trouble again when he and Katie are in a coffee shop. Jerry accidentally bumps into an obnoxious, bullying businessman, who insults Jerry and Katie. An angered Jerry hurls his muffin at the man's face, and when the man tries to attack Jerry, Jerry breaks the man's nose and knocks him unconscious with a single punch before dancing victoriously around the cafe. During his subsequent trial for aggravated assault, he tries to represent himself but winds up damaging his own case. After a candid talk with Katie he gives a passionate closing about standing up to a bully for the first time in his life, and is acquitted. This trial suggests that Jerry is beginning to display some of Alan's characteristics, as Alan acted in a similar fashion after paying bar patrons to beat up a man who punched him. Alan and Jerry both tried to smugly represent themselves and required a candid talk with Tara Wilson and Katie respectively to see their errors.