Joseph ”Joey” Heric is a character in the American television series The Practice. Joey is introduced in the second episode of the second season as a client of Bobby Donnell and his firm who frequently manipulates the justice system to get away with murder.
He was portrayed by John Larroquette.
Joey calls Eugene Young and Ellenor Frutt, two of his attorneys, to come to the home of his boyfriend Peter Fineman after he has been stabbed once in the chest. When they arrive he yells at them to give him advice on how to handle the situation. After speaking to themselves they Ellenor reluctantly decides to check if he is dead. When she says he is Peter suddenly grabs her arm and Ellenor screams in horror as she yell at Joey if he is dead or not. Joey replies that now he is as Ellenor recognizes Peter as a local city councilman and Joey makes a joke. They end up calling Bobby Donnell, their boss, on how to handle it and advises all of them not to call the police yet and Joey exclaims how he is going to be a suspect. He claims the homophobia in the country will work to get him imprisoned and how he seems to have three options: 1. Confess and go for manslaughter, 2. Plead insanity or 3. Plead Self-defense. He then comes up with a forth option: He is innocent and his prints are on the knife from helping him by pulling it out. His lawyers, while disgusted, agree that this is the best course of action and call the police where his lawyers try to implement Joey’s strategy but spontaneously confesses to killing him. Bobby tries to stop him but Joey explains he was having an affair with another man and Peter committed suicide because of it.
Joey is taken to the police station where he reveals his lover’s name is Marty Andleman and continually defends him. When the interview is over he calls Marty and tells him not to worry. Ellenor escorts him back to the police station and advises him not to talk unless she says it’s ok. The detective tells Joey to take a seat and reveals that they know Peter was murdered and asks for more information on Marty and Joey tells him no because Marty is not “out” yet. Joey continues to defend Marty until the detective reveals there were threats made against Peter from Marty. The detective tries to get details about these threats from Joey but he stonewalls them defending Marty’s character and later leaves to speak to Bobby as Ellenor begins to believe Marty killed Peter not Joey. Joey tells Bobby and the rest that after Marty threatened Peter he left and Joey went to Peter’s apartment and found him dead there and lied about killing him to protect Marty and because Peter threatened him too and he thought he would be the prime suspect. He also reveals that he incited Marty to kill Peter and even tossed him the keys to his apartment. Bobby then decides to try and cut a deal for Marty just as Marty walks through the door. Marty says he is worried but Joey lies to him saying he is the one they are after, not Marty. Marty leaves after both Bobby and Joey set his mind at ease and Bobby tells Joey that he has no other choice but to turn on Marty to save his own ass for accessory, aiding and abetting and obstruction of justice as Joey leaves himself.
At the meeting between Joey, Ellenor, ADA Jean Ward and the detective Joey reveals Peter’s threats to Marty and storms out refusing to testify out of love as they discuss immunity terms. Joey later reluctantly signs the immunity papers after Bobby and Ellenor persuade him to. He makes a fat joke at Ellenor’s expense and after she leaves Bobby yells that he is a narcissist, he always has to be the smartest man in the room, and he only thinks of himself. Then Bobby jokes that Joey isn’t looking so smart now. When Joey is called to the stand to testify he tells the court about the back and forth threats, his daring of Marty to kill Peter, throwing him the keys and Joey going over to Peter’s apartment. But then, to everyone’s shock, Joey confesses that he was one who killed Peter and manipulated everyone, including his own lawyers, to secure immunity for himself and everyone meets in the judge’s chambers. The ADA attempts to rescind the deal but because she never asked if he killed Peter the judge upholds the deal and angrily blames ADA as Joey taunts everyone as he walks out the door. He is later seen leaving with Marty after they are released and Joey continues to taunt his victory to the press as Marty looks terrified of his boyfriend.
Joey calls the firm again after a few months and after Rebecca Washington, their receptionist, answers he demands that Bobby and the rest come down to his apartment at once. Ellenor and Eugene go down to his place and as he repeatedly tells them not to judge him, he leads them downstairs and reveals Marty has been stabbed once in the chest, identical to Peter’s murder. Bobby arrives and berates Joey for his habit of killing lovers and how he expects to get away with it again. Joey just calmly states he will and mentions there is no red herring like last time and just runs off legal strategies like insanity and self-defense smiling and laughing. Joey is later arrested and arraigned for first-degree murder and the ADA is Jean Ward, who manages to get the judge to deny Joey bail and sets a probable cause hearing the next day and Joey is escorted to prison. Bobby later meets with Joey in prison to dissuade him from talking but Joey refuses. He later listens as the lead detective testify not only about the scene, but about his past history of killing lovers and when it is over Joey is furious that the judge finds probable cause but reveals it is to build their case for suppressing his past history. It later works as the judge suppresses the past history but will allow it back in if Joey claims it was an accident. Joey is thrilled with this and makes a snide comment about one of the prosecutors, Helen Gamble. When Marty’s shrink is called to testify Bobby tries to persuade Joey to consider taking a plea which Joey vehemently says no and Bobby calls him stupid and Joey rises from his chair as does Bobby and after a heated argument they both sit down and Bobby asks for Joey’s consent to talk to his therapist and he agrees. When they meet again Bobby tries to persuade him to plead insanity but Joey refuses and after Bobby says he can’t win this, Joey fires him and as Bobby leaves he angrily says his arrogance will be his downfall. At court, after some initial jokes at Bobby’s expense, he informs the judge of his refusal of using an insanity plea and wishes to represent himself. The judge orders a mental competency hearing and says he will rule on it at the end of the day. Joey treats his mental competency as a joke saying he killed Marty because he is gay and God told him to, but is found competent nonetheless and the judge allows him to represent himself while keeping Bobby on as co-counsel. He makes more jokes at Helen’s expense as he requests all documents relevant to his case and leaves to prepare for trial.
He is later seen working on his defense with Bobby as Helen walks in and offers a plea of murder-two, which Joey smugly rejects. He then tells Helen about his idea to use a piano in his opening arguments. Helen gets the judge to come to the prison in which he expresses greatly that his courtroom is not a theatre but he agrees to hear a demonstration. Joey Heric sings about how he is suspected of murder in an upbeat way and after he is done the judge flat out refuses his request. He later listens as the judge instructs the jury about his decision to represent himself and how any mistakes he makes are not to influence their decision. He later asks if Joey understands the concept of an objection and Joey says he does. When Helen is about to make opening arguments Joey states in all the confusion he forgot to pee and judge has a bailiff escort him to the men’s room. When he is done they all listen to Helen’s opening statements about how he killed Marty. Joey then makes his statements to the jury that he killed Marty in self-defense, that no one believes him and that is reason he is representing himself while presenting a positive picture of himself to the jury. The prosecution calls Marty’s therapist to the stand and she testifies about Marty’s fear for his life, Joey’s threats and Marty’s intent to break-up with Joey while Joey lets her and without objecting. But Joey counters on this with the fact that Marty suffered from Paranoid Personality Disorder, mild depression and often contemplated suicide. He uses this to present if he was suicidal, he was also homicidal and has her introduce Marty’s violent personality before resting. The medical examiner later testified about how the knife was plunged into Marty’s body and how it was inconsistent with a struggle. Joey says he knows that the ME’s description is inaccurate and both Helen and the judge stop him as he is making arguments. He then uses a past stabbing case in 1987, Alex Beauregard, to discredit his testimony. Before he rests he asks if he ever apologized and he say no, and Joey snidely says “Gee.”
In response to these setbacks Helen offers a plea of manslaughter with a sentence of eight years, which Joey smugly refuses while Bobby moans at Joey’s decision and asks if Joey is crazy for rejecting such a deal. Joey explains that he has already won and they are just trying to get some victory. Bobby exclaims that Joey must be stupid for rejecting it and Joey lunges at him but Bobby pushes him back and warns him that the next time he will hurt him and he is stupid if he thinks he won’t. He later witnesses the prosecution present evidence of a 2.3 million life insurance policy Joey has on Marty and doesn’t question him. He is later shocked when Helen calls him to the stand and they adjourn in chambers where Joey asserts the Fifth Amendment while Helen argues he has already testified in representing himself and the judge tells Helen it isn’t enough to compel him until she makes the argument that this was his plan all along, to testify and not be cross-examined and Joey says to bring it on. Bobby warns Joey that Helen is going to try and get Joey to open the door so she can introduce Peter’s murder and Joey takes it to heart. At the trial Helen does her best and while initially Joey managed to dodge it she managed to get him to open the door by saying it was an accident. She introduces the previous murder and Joey seemingly snaps but Joey then claims it was all a lie. He admits to killing Peter but that Marty killed himself, all in a grand plan to frame Joey for his murder and to deny him the insurance policy money. He claims Marty smiled as he drove the knife in his chest and to the moments leading up to it. When Bobby asks him why he claimed he murdered him and Joey states he couldn’t let Marty win. Bobby later visits Joey and he says he is in charge now and his therapist wants him to wear restraints because he is worried about Joey’s reaction and he agrees. The therapist testifies and says it is not only possible, but also probable while Helen tries to argue that he concocted the story after Helen tricked him. Bobby and Helen give their closing statements and the jury returns with a verdict of not guilty. Joey smugly leaves his cell and obliquely admits that he did kill Marty and made up that story to get away with murder again.
When a nun stabs Lindsey Dole, one of his ex-lawyers, it reopens Susan Robin's murder case when Joey sends his former attorneys a video tape suggesting that he stabbed Lindsey and killed Susan. It is later revealed he was only having fun with them and the real killer is revealed to be another of the firm’s clients named George Vogelman.
Joey shows up at the offices of Donnell, Young, Dole & Frutt after completing three years of law school to become an attorney and tells everyone about his new status as a lawyer. He then asks for their help in a murder trial he is presiding over and Bobby reluctantly agrees to help Joey. Joey is later sitting with Bobby, Ellenor and his client, Daniel Carrington, as the ADA presents his opening argument on the murder of Jean Holmstead as a disguised burglary gone wrong. Joey then makes his opening statements and claims Daniel’s innocence while coming off wanting to see all murderers in prison. The medical examiner is called to testify as to how Jean was bludgeoned in the back of the head twice and that the killer was someone she knew and that DNA evidence connected him through his semen. Joey Heric at first seems to agree with everything the medical examiner says, but then manages to get him to say that she could have been mugged without leaving bruises or scratches and the sex could have happened hours prior to her death. He later called the lead detective to the stand and played a tape recording of the victim saying it was over and that Daniel scarred her and how blood evidence indicated she was killed in her bedroom and moved using Daniel’s car. When Joey cross-examined him, he got the detective to admit that no weapon was recovered and there was no evidence that Daniel was in the victim’s bedroom that night. Joey also casts doubt on the blood evidence based on the amount.
After Joey is done Daniel expresses doubts as to whether Joey should really be so smug and Joey reassures him while Bobby and Ellenor get them to consider a plea. While Daniel takes their opinions into consideration, he ultimately decides to listen to Joey and go for an acquittal. He later runs into Helen and expresses the dreams he had about her and she leaves in disgust and Joey reveals to Bobby and Ellenor that he plans to “Plan B” (a defense strategy that places the blame on another suspect) Jean’s husband while Ellenor and Bobby strongly protest. The husband takes the stand as he tells them about how Jean ended the affair and Ellenor objects when the prosecution attempted to introduce the husband’s conversations with the Jean and Joey withdraws it stating they all need to hear this. After this Joey questioned the husband and revealed to everyone that Jean was sexually attracted to and even kissed his son, her stepson. He uses this fact to cast blame on him and rests saying he doesn’t believe he didn’t kill his wife. He meets with Ellenor and Bobby in Bobby’s office and they discuss his strategy and how he kept that information from them. Joey tells them that he has no skeletons and he needs to testify if he wants an acquittal while Joey expresses some doubt. They eventually convince him and Daniel takes the stand. Daniel explains they went to a club, had sex and he drove her home. Daniel says the message was left in a way that he wouldn’t get it and he has no idea how the blood got there. The prosecutor cross-examines him and reveals Daniel was previously convicted of beating his ex-girlfriend when he was nineteen and Joey reveals he knew as well and both Ellenor and Bobby berate him for putting him on the stand knowing he had a criminal record while Joey defends his actions. As the prosecutor and Joey deliver their closing arguments, Bobby and Ellenor realize that Joey killed Jean and framed Daniel. It is revealed that Daniel is Joey’s ex-boyfriend and he purposefully set Daniel to fall after taking the stand to watch another miscarriage of justice. The jury returns with a verdict of guilty while Joey provides Daniel with false hope and threatens to sue Bobby and Ellenor for libel if they tell the truth and they decide to keep silent.
When Lindsey Dole murders an ex-client, Lawrence O’Malley, who thought he was Hannibal Lecter and she was Clarice he goes on national television. He falsely claims that Bobby and Lindsay are his friends and offers his insight into the case. He subtly implies that Bobby is the one who killed Lawrence instead of Lindsay and that is reasonable doubt.