"When they throw the book at you, remember to duck. A predatory lawyer gets some of her own treatment."
-- DVD description of the episode
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime is the first episode of the sixth season of Tales from the Crypt and the sixty-sixth episode overall. The episode aired on October 31st, 1994, alongside "Only Skin Deep" and "Whirlpool".
Busted for a moving violation in the remote town of Stuecksville, a predatory and shameless ambulance-chasing lawyer (Catherine O'Hara) finds herself sent to a nightmarish court for petty crimes that is presided over by three judges (Joseph Maher in a triple role). Her appointed lawyer (Peter MacNicol) tries to get each of the judges to assign her to public service.
Predatory lawyer Geraldine Ferrett is arrested in the remote town of Stueksville (pronounced sticks-ville) for an improper license plate. Despite being a minor offense, she is handcuffed and brought into the courthouse for her arraignment. After calling her boyfriend to let him know she’ll be running late, she obnoxiously gives her business card to an injured man in a wheelchair with the hope of representing him another time.
A man in the waiting room panics when he is summoned and taken to Courtroom B. An unnerved Geraldine talks with Purdy Lee Dreyfuss — a constantly-sniffling man who was cited for turning odometers back on cars he sold — and learns judges are tougher in Courtroom B. He dreads his punishment in this “strict town” as he is called to Courtroom A, leaving Geraldine to study pictures of various public executions hung throughout the lobby — a particularly bizarre one (where the year is blotted out) shows a modern day car parked next to a public hanging.
Pip-squeak public defender Austin Haggard is assigned to Geraldine’s case. Despite having a background in Harvard law, Geraldine rudely turns his services down and announces her intentions of pleading guilty. She is brought into Courtroom A but learns the Judge’s sentence for a guilty plea will not be a simple fine but rather 10 whip lashes. Finding this ridiculous, Geraldine switches her plea to not guilty and fights the case that her license plate — which reads SUE EM — is not illegal. Haggard enters the courtroom and gives the Judge a file of evidence that proves Geraldine’s “spirited quality” — while it’s full of articles documenting a case where Geraldine fought and beat a wealthy pacemaker company, the Judge believes she’s immoral and that all she did was take down a medical company with no past problems. This revelation along with her “snotty” license plate leads the Judge to declare her guilty and to up her sentence to 100 lashes. Haggard’s pleas to commute the sentence to public service are denied, and she’s taken downstairs to a dungeon. Purdy Lee is also there, who reveals his nose was cut off for his sentence. Before Geraldine is punished, Haggard shows up and tells her the Judge has thrown her case out. Aware that she was would‘ve originally won the case if he hadn’t intervened, Geraldine berates the bumbling defender and insists “I’d rather be dead than you”.
Before she can leave, Geraldine is once again arrested -- this time for soliciting legal services from the injured man earlier. She argues that what she did wasn’t illegal but is brought into Courtroom B anyhow. The Judge from Courtroom A also presides here, but Haggard claims it’s a different “much more conservative” Judge. Haggard declares Geraldine not guilty but presents a ludicrous argument revolving around a temporary insanity plea. The Judge laughs at her and declares her guilty. Haggard once again asks for a public service sentence; the Judge denies her and sentences her to a pillory for a full year. She is forcibly shackled, then taunted by the ghosts of medical patients who died after their doctors' office was shut down due to her pacemaker lawsuit.
After being tortured enough, Geraldine is visited by Haggard who tells her they can push one last appeal. She is ushered into Courtroom C, a much more intimidating box-like room. The same Judge once again takes the stand and quickly declares her guilty, but now sentences her to death by electrocution. After a private talk with Haggard, the Judge realizes Geraldine‘s specific skills could be useful and commutes her sentence to public service ”for a time yet unspecified”. She rushes out of the room, but finds herself back in the dungeon. The ghosts return and nudge her closer to an electric chair. Suddenly Haggard appears and takes her place in the chair. He reveals himself to be a former lawyer who got off many criminals by bribing jury members and has been "working" in Stueksville for a long time. He informs the public service sentence means Geraldine will be replacing him, repeating her line “I’d rather be dead than you”. He is electrocuted, then passes on to the afterlife; Geraldine, now dressed like Haggard, realizes her fate has come true and screams out in agony.
Opening Segment Edit"From over seas and underworld, it's the Crypt Keeper Noose Network. Good evening crypts. In the news tonight, wolfman bites dog, vampires say life sucks, mummy takes the wrap after years in "de Nile," and illiterate zombies insist they're better dead than read. This just in. And our top story tonight is a nasty little soundbite about an ambulance-chasing lawyer whose about to bleed the toughest case of her life. I call it "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime."
Closing Segment Edit"Talk about trial and terror. Still, I think Geri will do just fine. I mean aside from the occasional attack of motion sickness. And now it's time for business news. So Chip, what happened on the shock exchanges today. Oh! Oh sorry, looks like it's time for the spurts report instead. Oh boy!"
- Despite never making it clear, it is heavily implied the courthouse is a form of purgatory. The town Stueksville may be a reference to the River of Styx, a river in Greek mythology that served as a border between Earth and the underworld.
- This episode is included on the Tales from the Crypt: The Complete Sixth Season DVD collection.
- "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" aired on the same night as "Only Skin Deep".
- The setting for this episode is New York State.
- The Crypt Keeper is presented as an anchorman for CKNN, which is an acronym that stands for Crypt Keeper Noose Network.
- The man who is seen being dragged into courtroom B is Scott Nimerfro, a writer on the series who wrote episodes such as "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today", "Werewolf Concerto", "People Who Live in Brass Hearses", and "Came the Dawn".
- The title comes from a song from the comic opera The Mikado with music by Arthur Sullivan and lyrics by W.S. Gilbert. The song details the unique punishments for crimes doled out by The Lord High Executioner of the play.
- In the opening segments, comic covers from past episodes Werewolf Concerto, The Reluctant Vampire, Lower Berth, and 'Til Death.