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Esther Randolph

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Esther Randolph, played by Julianne Nicholson, is an Assistant US Attorney. She is responsible for prosecuting the election rigging charges filed against Nucky Thompson.

BiographyEdit

BackgroundEdit

Randolph is a USC graduate with ten years of experience of public defender. She has a reputation for defending prostitutes and draft dodgers. She became a prosecutor after impressing Governor William Stephens in California and has risen to the position of Assistant US Attorney. She has a reputation for honesty even under the leadership of the corrupt Attorney General Harry Daugherty. She is assigned to prosecute Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson for election rigging when Daugherty comes under political pressure to assign a thorough prosecutor to the case.

Season 2Edit

Randolph installs her team in the post office in Atlantic City because it is the only federal building available. Her men are her chief investigator Clifford Lathrop and two clerks, Pratt and Halsey. Randolph annoys her new colleague Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden by taking over his desk. Van Alden demands to know why they are there and why they have taken over his office. She says that her investigation into Nucky’s election rigging takes precedence over his work. Lathrop points out that they have moved Van Alden’s things to another desk. Van Alden complains about the lack of notice. Randolph reminds him of the need for discretion regarding her team’s activities and he is offended, citing his oath of office. Randolph instructs Lathrop to search Absecon bay for ballot boxes that one of their confidential witnesses claims were dumped there because they were filled with non-republican votes. Lathrop asks Van Alden where he might be able to buy wading boots for the search. Van Alden ignores the question and says they will be eaten alive. Lathrop misunderstands and Van Alden clarifies that he means they will not get a conviction. Randolph asks why and learns that he believes the level of corruption is insurmountable; she sarcastically dismisses his concern. ("Peg of Old")

At the post office headquarters Randolph has closed the partition to Van Alden’s new office while she deposes Alderman Jim Neary. She is recording his testimony using a Dictaphone and clarifying evidence that he originally gave to the State investigation as a confidential witness against Nucky. Van Alden listens as she questions Neary about cash for votes and his arrest in March 1920 for his involvement in bootlegging. Neary claims that he has paid his debt on those charges with a $500 fine. Randolph believes the punishment was too light and threatens to reopen that case if Neary is not co-operative despite his deal with the previous prosecutor. ("Peg of Old")

The following day Van Alden arrives at the post office with a heavy briefcase. Randolph is instructing Lathrop to begin following Nucky. Van Alden asks to speak to her alone and she clears the office. He tells her he is married and she sarcastically says he has ended her dream. He confesses his affair and the birth of his daughter. She asks if he should be discussing this with a priest and he explains that he is baring his soul to prove that he is an honest man. He gives her a file he has compiled on Nucky over his sixteen months in Atlantic City. He explains that he was ordered by his supervisors to focus only on illegal alcohol so did not take his investigation further. She flicks through the file and asks if Van Alden will testify about the accusation he makes in the file. He agrees to do so and she tells him that they will resolve his domestic problems but that he should keep them to himself. ("Peg of Old")

Lathrop follows Nucky to Babette's Supper Club and foils an assassination attempt against Nucky by shooting his assailant. ("Peg of Old")

Randolph arranges an informal meeting with Nucky in his suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. His attorney Isaac Ginsburg reads aloud from a list of the charges against Nucky. Randolph and Lathrop sit opposite Nucky and Ginsburg while Nucky's assistant Eddie Kessler pours tea. The allegations include tax evasion, bid rigging, embezzlement of County funds, graft, gambling, prostitution and multiple Volstead Act violations. Nucky sarcastically wonders if they have omitted fair beating (using public transport without paying). Lathrop offers to amend the complaint and Randolph compares Nucky to an onion citing his multiple layers of criminality. Nucky jokes that he considers himself an artichoke and says that he wants to go on the record that the charges are baseless. Randolph reminds Nucky that the meeting is informal and Ginsburg wonders if they are pushing for a plea deal. Nucky says he would decline any such offer and maintains his innocence. Randolph suggests they discuss Nucky’s shooting and he acidly says that there are more pleasant topics. Lathrop wonders if Nucky is curious who was behind the attack. Nucky jokes that he wonders who the shooter was but that the list of those who could be behind it is too long to consider. Randolph asks if Nucky knows Torrio, Nucky denies a connection. Randolph insists that Nucky knows Torrio and Nucky wonders why she bothered asking. Lathrop reveals that the shooter was Vito Scalercio and that he lived in a building leased by Al Capone. Randolph warns that Nucky’s friends are behind the attempt on his life. Nucky asks why his friends are not the target of the investigation. Randolph states that she plans to pursue Eli Thompson and Nucky’s aldermen. Lathrop relays that they have already questioned some of the aldermen and Ginsburg interrupts to assert his right to review the transcripts of these sessions. Randolph agrees and teases that they make fascinating reading. Randolph moves the discussion on to Margaret, pausing for Nucky to clarify their relationship; he describes Margaret as his companion. She wonders how they first met and Nucky suspects that Randolph is again asking a question that she already has the answer to. She suggests that Nucky might have additional information and he wonders if she expects him to do her job for her. She offers that she has ways of showing her gratitude, packs away her papers and stands. Nucky rises to meet her and she surprises him by saying that it was Lathrop who saved his life. She pointedly observes that Nucky has yet to thank Lathrop and they leave. ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")

Halsey delivers a subpoena to Eli at his home when he does not respond to requests to come in for questioning. Eli and Nucky's frail elderly father Ethan Thompson is furious at the intrusion and dies from shock shortly afterwards. ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")

A deliveryman brings Lathrop a bowl of peaches from Nucky at the post office. Lathrop opens the card and reads the message; “You're a peach, thanks for saving my life.” ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")

Nucky requests permission to take his father's body to Ireland for burial, which Randolph grants. Randolph enjoys a post coital cigarette in her hotel room; Lathrop lies next to her. She complains about his long toe nails, calling them talons. He turns the complaint into a compliment, saying that she thinks he is like an eagle. She observes that they are actually rather unpleasant birds. She reaches for a file and Lathrop complains that she is bringing Nelson Van Alden into the bedroom by reading his notes in their bed. She wonders if Lathrop considers Nucky capable of murder. Lathrop ignores the question and says that Van Alden’s notes are equivalent to reading the Black Mask because he has not supported his claims that Nucky ordered murders. She wonders how Nucky was able to sit calmly in his office and joke at their last meeting considering the assassination attempt. Lathrop observes that Nucky is corrupt but doubts Van Alden’s notes, saying that Prohibition Agents are not real investigators but Katzenjammer (German, meaning discordant sound) cops, referring to The Katzenjammer Kids comic strip. Randolph observes that Lathrop has made up the saying and smiles. Lathrop again doubts Van Alden’s claims that Nucky was behind twelve murders. Randolph observes that Van Alden’s list of victims includes his mistress’ husband, Lathrop clarifies that she means Hans Schroeder and states his belief that Hans was a bootlegger. Randolph points out that the reports of Hans’ involvement in bootlegging originate with Nucky, showing Lathrop a newspaper article. Lathrop says that they have a case to pursue already, and wonders about the purpose of having Van Alden testify in court. Randolph believes that Van Alden will be useful to establish violations of the Volstead Act and plans to carefully rehearse his testimony. She jokes that they will keep him away from small children and nursing mothers. Lathrop takes her cigarette and calls her good girl. She takes offence and reminds him that she is his boss on her way into the bathroom. Lathrop reveals that he attended Ethan Thompson’s funeral in Atlantic City earlier in the day despite Nucky getting permission to go to Ireland for that purpose. Randolph is annoyed that Lathrop waited to tell her this and realises that he wanted to sleep with her first. Lathrop says that he struggles to get her attention. She tells him to bring Eli in for questioning and he reminds her that he ignored their subpoena. She asks him to bring in his first Deputy instead saying that she wants answers. She brushes her hair and wonders what Nucky is up to in Belfast. ("Battle of the Century")

At her post office headquarters Randolph dismisses acting Treasurer Jim Neary warning him to be more punctual in future. Neary rolls his eyes and exits, outside Deputy Halloran is waiting to be questioned. Randolph watches as Neary whispers to Halloran. Halloran removes his hat as Randolph introduces herself. He marvels at meeting a lady lawyer and she sarcastically says that they will soon have horseless carriages in the modern age. He misses the joke and says that they already do. She offers him a seat next to her desk and Lathrop comes in from the partition positioning Halloran between them and bemoaning Eli’s failure to come in himself. Randolph says that Eli seems busy and Halloran offers the excuse of Ethan’s death. Randolph notes that Halloran attended the funeral and he explains that he is Eli’s friend. Randolph and Lathrop note the complications of a personal relationship with your boss. Halloran does not understand and Randolph elucidates that friends confide in one another while subordinates must avoid certain subjects with their boss. Halloran is amused by Randolph finishing Lathrop’s sentence and jokes that they sound like a married couple. Randolph wonders why Eli had Halloran ousted as Sheriff after he won the election in 1920 and Halloran says that he thought Nucky was behind that. They say that it appears that some people are displeased with Nucky’s leadership. Halloran says he stays out of such unrest and focuses on his job. Randolph wonders if Halloran was doing his job on January 19, 1920. He says that he was if he was working and she confirms that he was and has records that indicate he responded to a domestic disturbance involving Hans Schroeder along with Eli. Halloran says that he doesn’t recognise the name and Lathrop repeats it. Halloran questions the line of interrogation, saying that he thought he was there to discuss election rigging. Randolph says that they haven’t said otherwise. Halloran asserts that Hans was not involved in politics and Randolph catches him in a lie; reminding him that he claimed not to remember Hans. Halloran dissembles and claims he would need to review the files, Randolph counters with sarcastic surprise that the Sheriff’s office keeps records. Halloran again misses the tone and explains that it is necessary because of the transient population of the tourist driven Atlantic City. Lathrop notes that Hans just disappeared after the domestic disturbance call. Halloran is silent and Randolph asks if he remembers the events. Lathrop says that they are not targeting Halloran but want to prosecute his supervisors and Randolph adds that they are prepared to be helpful to their friends. Halloran denies having any knowledge and says that he does not have to talk to them; he then shows his uncertainty by asking if this is true. Randolph thanks Halloran for his time and tells him that they will let Eli know that Halloran stood up from him. Halloran remains seated until Randolph flashes him a false smile and he then makes a hurried escape. Randolph manages to secure a start date (August 23 1921) and venue (Camden) for Nucky's trial. ("Battle of the Century")

On July 24 1921 strike breakers attack picketers in a citywide strike by African American workers over conditions and pay. Halloran is severely beaten by the strike breakers during the chaos. Eli later implies to Halloran that it was a warning not to talk to Randolph. The warning has the opposite effect and he calls Randolph and agrees to testify against Eli. Later that day Randolph rehearses Van Alden’s testimony for the upcoming trial at her post office headquarters. Van Alden is detailing following Nucky to a meeting with Chalky. When he stumbles into presumption Lathrop stops him and Randolph explains that he has to stick to facts. Van Alden apologises and Lathrop urges him to only cover what he knows. Randolph changes tack and asks Van Alden about Hans Schroeder. He is reluctant to talk about Hans so she prompts him by saying that he mentions Hans and Margaret frequently in his files. He wonders if she is baiting him and she denies doing so. She says that he claims Nucky ordered Hans’ murder and he admits that he has no direct proof of that. She observes that he spent a long time investigating it. He explains that his supervisors told him to focus on alcohol as they have asked him to do in his testimony. She asks for his opinion off the record and he says that he is certain that Nucky did. She announces a lunch break and Van Alden leaves the office. Lathrop wonders if they have enough and Randolph instructs them to bring “him” in. Lathrop and the clerk, Dick Halsey, head off to carry out her orders. ("Georgia Peaches")

Eli sits in a cell in the Atlantic County Jail on July 25 1921. Randolph talks to him through the bars, wishing him a good morning. He complains that he asked to see a lawyer and she tells him that she is a lawyer before formally introducing herself and her role as an AUSA. He whinges about being arrested in his own home and she says that her professional courtesies don’t extend to murder suspects. Eli says that she is grasping at straws. She tells him that she has one in the form of Halloran, now willing to testify against Eli. She tells him that if he is willing to give evidence against Nucky she is willing to speak to his lawyer. She leaves him alone in the cells. ("Georgia Peaches")

Randolph meets separately with Nucky's new defense attorney Bill Fallon and Eli's defense attorney Douglas Wallbridge and releases copies of Halloran's deposition to both of them as part of the discovery process. She tells Wallbridge that she is willing to drop arguing for the death penalty if Eli agrees to testify against Nucky. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")

Randolph convenes a meeting of her team at their post office headquarters on July 26 1921. Van Alden sits in the partitioned section, staring at papers. Randolph wonders how a poor widow like Margaret ended up living with a powerful racketeer like Nucky. Lathrop suggests that Margaret seduced Nucky. Halsey gives Randolph a cup of tea. She asks for Van Alden’s opinion about Margaret and he claims not to have one. Randolph asks Lathrop to bring Margaret in and he instructs Halsey to type up a subpoena. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")

Fallon uncovers witnesses who will testify that Van Alden murdered his partner Eric Sebso; the congregation of the Shiloh Baptist Church. The church deacon Lemuel Cuffy has physical evidence of the crime; Sebso's gun and shoes which he removed before going into the river where Van Alden drowned him. Randolph arranges to arrest Van Alden the next day. When he arrives for work he is met by Randolph, Fallon and Cuffy. Lathrop sidles up behind Van Alden as Randolph introduces the visitors, reminding Van Alden that he has met Cuffy. Fallon produces Sebso’s gun and shoes from a box. Randolph asks if Van Alden recognises the items. Cuffy quotes Proverbs 21:15 “It is joy for the just to do justice.” Lathrop instructs Van Alden to hold his hands up as he takes Van Alden's gun. Van Alden grabs the weapon once it is out of the holster and fires it into Lathrop’s right knee. Lathrop collapses, dropping the gun and Van Alden flees the room. Van Alden pushes past Agent Sawicki and runs out of the building. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")

Van Alden escapes recapture. Randolph and Halsey watch Margaret and Father Brennan in their post office headquarters. Halsey notes Brennan accompanying Margaret and considers it a cynical ploy for sympathy, stating his surprise that she did not bring an infant at her breast. Randolph dispatches Halsey to get her an ice cream saying that she is boiling before entering his office. She introduces herself to Margaret and Margaret introduces Brennan in turn. Brennan interrupts Margaret and asserts that he is there for moral support. Randolph jokes that she doubts that she will need it. Brennan clarifies that he meant for Margaret and Margaret tells him that Randolph understood that. They take their seats and Brennan tells Randolph about Emily’s illness. Randolph offers sympathy and Brennan adds that Margaret is a widow and devoted mother. He goes on to say that Margaret is active in the church and ignorant of the charges in the case against Nucky. Randolph counters that she was unaware that they taught law at seminary school. Margaret asks to speak to Randolph alone and dismisses Brennan over his objections. He jokes that he will go and buy some stamps. ("To the Lost")

Margaret asks if it is difficult to become a lawyer and Randolph says it takes determination. Margaret says that she cannot believe it is that simple and Randolph confirms her doubt. She says that she began her career as a public defender and that all of her clients were women. Margaret wonders what kind of women she represented and Randolph says that they were “the kind that didn’t have any other choice.” Margaret asks if Randolph is trying to say that she did have a choice. Randolph invites Margaret to tell her own tale, reminding her that she asked for privacy. Margaret says that Hans used to beat her and their children and that he was a drunk and a philanderer. Randolph says that Margaret has moved up in the world. Margaret enquires if Randolph hates Nucky and Randolph admits that she likes him. Randolph says that her opinion of him does not matter and asks Margaret if she hates Nucky. Margaret pauses and Randolph asserts that her feelings for Nucky must be complicated. Margaret says that the truth is also complicated. Randolph says she would be interested in hearing what Margaret has to say and Margaret wonders if she would have to appear in court. Randolph admits that she will compel Margaret’s testimony irrespective of her co-operation. She explains that the nature of Margaret’s appearance is in her hands; she can be painted as a sympathetic hoodwinked helpless widow or as a shameless gold digger. Margaret asks if Randolph cares that neither is true and Randolph counters that it matters to her that Nucky go to jail, raising her voice. Randolph pauses, leans forwards and asks what Nucky has given Margaret besides money. Margaret says that Nucky has never been cruel to her. Randolph argues that he has been cruel enough to others and Margaret says that she has never seen it. Randolph states that Margaret knows his cruelty anyway. Margaret reminds Randolph of her children and Randolph asks if their wellbeing supersedes that of everyone else. Margaret says that Randolph would not have to ask that question if she had a family of her own. Randolph counters that if she had children she would not be able to bear knowing that she had bought their comfort with the blood of others because she would know they would find out for themselves eventually. She tells Margaret that would not be a happy day. Margaret wonders what Randolph expects to become of her family if she does as asked. Randolph assures her that she would never have to see Nucky again and asks her to set herself free. Margaret hesitates, pursing her lips. ("To the Lost")

Randolph practices her opening statement while getting dressed in her hotel room. She says that there will be many charges against Nucky including the murder of Hans. Randolph details Nucky’s corruption, violations of the Volstead Act and extortion of local businesses. She says that Nucky is ruthless and greedy and that she will show how Nucky has stolen from the city he is supposed to be representing. Randolph notes his corruption of the city council’s alderman and says that Nucky and the alderman have plundered the citizens of the county and used the money to rig the 1920 election. She promises direct testimony from the aldermen including Neary. She states that Nucky’s only loyalty is to himself and that Nucky will order a murder as a normal person would a coffee. Randolph finishes the statement with the assertion that there is only one just verdict; guilt. Lathrop claps in the bed, his leg in plaster. ("To the Lost")

Her statement well practiced her case nevertheless begins to come undone. Margaret and Nucky marry so that she cannot be compelled to testify against him. Neary's body is discovered in his office, an apparent suicide. Paddy Ryan retracts his statement. ("To the Lost")

The judge bangs his gavel and calls for order at Nucky’s trial. Randolph complains to the judge about the disintegration of her case with the marriage of Nucky and Margaret, the apparent suicide of Neary and the recanting of testimony by other witnesses. Nucky sits quietly at the defendant’s table, Mayor Bader, Alderman Damien Fleming and Eddie are seated behind him. Randolph accuses Nucky of witness tampering and Fallon objects. Fallon characterises her case as unravelling and she says that the court knows what is really going on. Fallon suggests that she wait until she can prove it and the judge again calls for order before asking both counsels to approach. The judge tells Randolph that she has no chance of a murder conviction and says that she has lost her main witness on the election rigging charges. He offers her a chance to back out now, before jeopardy is attached to the charges, and get her “ducks in a row.” Fallon quotes the proverb “[She] who fights and runs away.” Randolph agrees to take the ducks. The judge announces that the defence motion for mistrial is granted and the courtroom erupts in noise. ("To the Lost")

RelationshipsEdit

Memorable QuotesEdit

AppearancesEdit

Season two appearances
21 Ourselves Alone A Dangerous Maid What Does the Bee Do?
Gimcrack & Bunkum The Age of Reason Peg of Old Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Battle of the Century Georgia Peaches Under God's Power She Flourishes To the Lost
Season three appearances
"Resolution" "Spaghetti and Coffee" "Bone for Tuna" "Blue Bell Boy"
"You'd Be Surprised" "Ging Gang Goolie" "Sunday Best" "The Pony"
"The Milkmaid's Lot" "A Man, A Plan..." "Two Imposters" "Margate Sands"
Season four appearances
"New York Sour" "Resignation" "Acres of Diamonds" "All In"
"Erlkonig" "The North Star" "William Wilson" "The Old Ship of Zion"
"Marriage and Hunting" "White Horse Pike" "Havre De Grace" "Farewell Daddy Blues"

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