A man (Gil) and a woman (Cindy) make out in an elevator. Cindy eventually stops, saying that they might get fired. She says they can resume at home in half an hour. She presses a button to stop the elevator and open the door, but just before she leaves, gunshots ring out — two together, and then two single shots. Gil cautiously edges into the hallway, telling Cindy to call the police on his cell phone. Gil goes up to a large office on the floor, only to see a dead woman through the office's glass doors.
Gil and Cindy talk to Briscoe and say they thought they were the only ones in the building. They didn't know the people in the office.
"They seemed like a fun bunch. They always had music playing."
An officer tells Briscoe that three people were killed, all employees. The woman Gil saw was Sally Kestler,who has recently dyed hair and a new nose ring. They walk past the only survivor, who had been hiding in the bathroom. Briscoe comments that they should check the survivor's hands for gunpowder, and the officer says Curtis already asked them to do that. The next dead body is Jessie Rand, who had powder burns on his shirt — he was near the shooter. Briscoe says they need to examine Rand closely, and the officer says Curtis also already told them that. Briscoe goes into the back office, finds Curtis and apologizes for being late — he was caught in traffic. Curtis shows Briscoe the last body, Edward Nicodos, slumped in a chair. Edward was in charge of the company, which produced a magazine.
"'Byte-Head Magazine. Feeding the head of Generation X.' Better make that Generation X-ed out."
The survivor, Mr. Ricardi, complains about being a suspect, but Curtis blames it on procedure. Ricardi, looking shocked, muses that he would have been dead if he hadn't been in the bathroom during the shooting. Curtis asks if anyone else was there; the survivor says no. The 14th issue of the magazine had just finished, so the office was celebrating with champagne and takeout. Briscoe asks about office romances, but Ricardi says he was just the secretary. Curtis asks who else on the staff would know, but Ricardi says that he's all that remains of the office; everyone else is dead.
Curtis tells Van Buren that Kestler had no boyfriends, Edward was a playboy, and Jessie was in a committed relationship. Briscoe says that some fibers were pulled from Rand's hands, probably belonging to the shooter. Gunpowder residue was found on the fire door; the door wasn't alarmed, but only someone who'd been there before would know that, so the shooter was probably familiar with the place. Also, there were no personnel records. Curtis says that the next-of-kin were contacted, and Edward belongs to the Nicodos family, which own Nicodos Food, a big company. Van Buren tells them to talk to Elaine Nicodos, who is listed as Executive Editor of the magazine.
The detectives go to the Nicodos house, which is incredibly opulent. Elaine, Edward's mother, says she doesn't know what was happening. Other members of the family that are there include Peter, Edward's brother, and Elizabeth, his wife. Elizabeth takes the kids out of the room, and the cops begin the questioning. Peter and Elaine can't think of anyone who didn't like Edward or the magazine. Elaine says that, while she's technically the Executive Editor, that was just a title — she had nothing to do with the magazine's operations. Briscoe asks to see the personnel records, and Peter says he'll have Edward's business manager release the records.
The detectives talk to an employee, Gail Russell, that was fired from X-Byte Magazine. They found an angry letter in her personnel file that she'd sent to Edward. She says she had the right to be angry — she worked there for five months and designed the whole magazine, then was filed when she complained about being sexually harassed by a John Wheeler, who peed in a cup in front of her. She told Edward that, if he didn't fire John, she'd quit, and he fired her. Briscoe asks why she didn't sue, and Russell says that the magazine had no assets. Curtis tells Russell that Wheeler was fired two weeks ago, and Russell remembers something — when she last talked to Kestler, a few weeks before the shooting, she'd said Wheeler was stalking her.
Wheeler tries to blow off the cops, claiming he has to finish an article but Curtis shuts his laptop.
"That badge we showed you? Means we get dibs on your time."
Curtis asks about Kestler; Wheeler says that following her home was just a joke. He says he got fired because Edward couldn't handle or tolerate his genius. Briscoe points out that Wheeler is currently freelancing, but Wheeler says this is just a temporary setback. He cites a video game review he wrote that slammed the game and got a lot of press; he then repeats that Edward couldn't handle his ability.
"What the Hell. Mozart couldn't hack the nine-to-five either."
They ask for his alibi, and he says he was at a diner. The cops go to the diner and Curtis confirms the alibi with a waitress, who flirts with him. Curtis goes to a table to fill Briscoe in, and Briscoe reads the video game review. He then takes the latest issue of the magazine — the negative review was retracted with five lines. They wonder if someone at the video game company wasn't satisfied.
The detectives talk to one of the video game designers. He says that the issue wasn't the negative review, but that there was a review at all — the designer gave Nicodos a prototype but asked him not to review it until the bugs were worked out.
"I worked three years on this project. I lost my backers."
He says he didn't kill anyone at the company; he was suing them instead.
The lawyer, Mr. Kaiser, says that he was suing for tens of millions of dollars. Curtis points out that the company was broke, but Kaiser says they were suing Nicodos Food Distribution as well — he's claiming that the Food company owns the magazine. He says that he got Peter Nicodos to admit to this at the deposition. Briscoe remembers that Peter and Elaine claimed to know nothing about the magazine, but Kaiser says they had to know after they got sued. He offers them a videotape of the deposition.
The cops watch the tape. Peter protests that the start-up money was a gift from his mother's personal account, but the lawyer keeps trying to insist that the Food company provided financial support to the magazine. Edward walks out, telling the lawyer that his magazine's judgement proof (having no assets) and he doesn't care if his brother gets sued.
"You think you can collect from my brother? Be my guest."
Peter begins to insult Edward, then when Edward leaves, he screams and chases after him.
The cops talk to Peter. He says that his attorney assured him that he was fine. Briscoe asks why this didn't come up before; when Peter says he thought it irrelevant Briscoe points out that it's twelve million dollars. Curtis says they saw the tape. Peter admits that he got mad and said he was trying to protect the company; he takes his responsibilities very seriously. Briscoe asks for his alibi, he says he was with his mother — first at a memorial service for his father, then at dinner, then doing business. He shoos the detectives out.
Pat Brice, a manager at the Nicodos Foods building says that Edward rarely visited the place. He once had a job there, working for Peter, but it only lasted two months, and since then Edward hadn't returned. The job ended after a huge argument between Edward and Peter; that was five years ago. Brice admits to being in the office the night that Edward was killed, he says that he saw Peter come in at about 8 and doesn't know when he left. Briscoe asks if Peter keeps a gun in his office; Brice pauses, then says he doesn't. The detectives call him on lying, and he says that Peter's secretary keeps a gun in her desk. The desk is locked, but it was recently discovered to be missing. Peter knew about the gun, and even signed the license.
Briscoe tells Van Buren about the gun, and Curtis says that the gun matches the bullets found in the office. Van Buren says they need more evidence. She tells them to look into the fibers found at the scene; if Peter was at a memorial, he was probably wearing a very specific outfit.
Elaine says she doesn't recall Peter's outfit, and looks distressed. She answers some of Briscoe's questions, but Briscoe blows off hers. Curtis talks to Elizabeth, and she says that Peter left dinner early to deal with a matter pertaining to the video game lawsuit — he said he had to meet his lawyer. Another officer says they couldn't find anything in dark blue, nor could they find a gun. Outside, the cops talk about what to do next, and Briscoe points out that it's weird that Peter would have to leave a family dinner to deal with a lawsuit that was, supposedly, no big deal. Briscoe says, though, that the Nicodos lawyer probably won't talk, but Curtis says that the video game designer's lawyer might.
Kaiser doesn't want to talk, but does so after Curtis threatens to scare away his clients. Kaiser says he's bound by privilege, but Curtis says they just want to know what happened the day of the murder to make Peter leave the dinner. Nicodos says that he found a shell corporation, Gaston Inc., getting $10,000 a month from the Food Company. Kaiser says that he thinks Gaston Inc was used to divert funds to X-Byte Magazine. He told Nicodon's attorney that morning.
The cops go to the office of Gaston Inc., a penthouse.
"You'd think for ten grand a month, Gaston Inc. could afford a sign on the door."
When they ring the door bell, Celia Gaston opens up. She lets the cops in. When the cops ask about her business, she says she's an interior decorator, and when they ask about Nicodos Foods, she tries to say that she did consulting for them. After some back-and-forth, they get her to admit that she was seeing Peter, but Peter came by after the service to break up with her. They tell her about the shooting, then ask her again if he told her anything. She says that Kaiser found out about her relationship with Peter from Edward, and then told Peter that if he didn't settle, he (Kaiser) would tell the family about the affair. When Peter left, he was angrier than Gaston had ever seen him. She points them to a change of clothes that Peter kept there, and Briscoe finds a dark blue suit.
Chung, a technician, says that the fibers aren't the same type that were found at the scene, but cat hairs on the suit are similar to ones found at the scene. Chung will need a few weeks to be sure, but Briscoe doesn't want to wait. The police arrest Peter Nicodos outside his house.
"Can't this wait? We're going to be late for the Met."
"Don't worry. It will still be there 25 years from now."
Judge Maria Gance presides over the arrangement. After Nicodos and his attorney, Professor Norman Rothenberg, plead him not guilty, Kincaid asks for remand. Rothenberg objects, but Gance remands Nicodos anyway after hearing that he shot two witnesses.
Rothenberg complains to McCoy that the charge is absurd. After some bickering, McCoy says he's not interested in any deals. Rothenberg is contemptuous.
"You better check your cards before you shoot the moon."
Kincaid goes over the forensic evidence, but when they get to motive, Rothenberg says he's moving to have Gaston barred from testifying.
Judge Edgar Hynes hears Rothenberg's argument — Gaston's comments were hearsay, and thus not allowed in court. McCoy says that statements made by defendants are considered 'admissions' and fall outside the hearsay rules (self-incriminating statements by defendants are an exception to hearsay and are allowed). Rothenberg says that they're not talking about something Peter said, but rather about what Kaiser said to Peter. Kaiser threatened to blackmail Peter, so it's hearsay. Hynes rules in favor of Rothenberg, suppressing the statement. McCoy wants her to testify regardless, at least as to Peter's anger, but Rothenberg says that Peter was angry over Edward skipping the memorial, and a jury would misconstrue it. Hynes agrees, saying that the prejudicial affect of Gaston's testimony is greater than its probative value, so Gaston is barred from testifying.
Later, McCoy complains that Hynes not only threw out their witness, but allowed Peter bail. Schiff says that he used to work with Hynes, and that Hynes isn't the type to be biased towards the defense — if they lost, it was their own fault. He adds that Gaston, who had just been dumped by Peter, would make a bad witness. He tells McCoy that they should make a deal, but McCoy refuses. He says they still have the forensic evidence and the deposition tapes, so they still have a case.
Ricardi testifies that he was at the office for ten to twelve hours a day, but never saw (or even heard about) Peter. He also testifies that the room was cleaned the night before, so Peter's fingerprints had to have been made the day of the shooting. Rothenberg points out that Ricardi was a gopher and frequently left the office to run errands. He points out that Peter could have come by when Ricardi was out. He then makes Ricardi admit that he never saw Nicodos shoot anyone.
Chung testifies about the powder burns on Rand's shirt. Before Chung can finish, Rothenberg asks for a sidebar. He says that, if the testimony is about the cat hairs, he objects. McCoy says that forensics matched the hairs to hairs found in Gaston's apartment. Rothenberg says that he hasn't had time to read the report, since he only got it two days ago, but McCoy says that Rothenberg got it an hour after the prosecution got it — Chung's tests took a lot of time. He says that he has no problem with a delay in the trial, but Rothenberg says that his strategy was founded on the belief that the cat hair evidence didn't exist. He wants the report excluded. Hynes agrees.
"Mr McCoy. You're lucky I'm not sanctioning you for discovery violations."
—Jack McCoy and Edgar Hynes
As the lunch break begins, Kincaid complains that she kept asking Chung for the evidence but he never came through. McCoy says they need to find Curtis quickly — without the cat hairs, they need a new witness before the trial resumes. McCoy vents about Chung and Hynes, and orders Kincaid to make sure Curtis hurries.
Curtis testifies about the handgun, saying that it went missing from the secretary's desk and that its ammunition has the same rifling as the bullets used at the scene. Rothenberg gets him to admit that many other handguns have the exact same rifling, and says that over five thousand licensed guns in the New York area could have fired the bullets. Curtis brings up the issue of access, and Rothenberg ends his questioning. McCoy rests, and Rothenberg enters a motion for dismissal.
"...the defense moves for a trial order of dismissal, on the grounds that the evidence against my client is not legally sufficient to prove the offense charged."
"Your Honor, the people have established every element of the crime."
"I don't agree, Counselor. All counts of the indictment against Mr. Nicodos are dismissed."
—Norman Rothenberg, Jack McCoy, and Edgar Hynes
Later, Kincaid points out that, due to Double Jeopardy, they can't go after Nicodos again. Schiff mocks her for blaming Hynes, but McCoy takes Kincaid's side. He says that, even in cases with trial orders of dismissal, they usually happen after the verdict. Schiff doesn't think they had much of a case, but McCoy points out that Hynes threw out everything they had.
At a lounge, Hynes says he was just following the law. Schiff thinks that the case would have resulted in an acquittal anyway, but Hynes says that his opinion is the one that matters, since he's the judge. Hynes then says that he can't talk about the case, and when Schiff points out that he always used to talk about cases, Hynes gets up to leave. Schiff tells him to say hi to his wife, and asks if they could go sailing sometime, but Hynes says that he sold his boat and was just divorced. He leaves, and Schiff watches him go.
Schiff calls McCoy into his office and gives him the transcript of one of Stone's old cases. Hynes presided, and in that case Hynes allowed a ballistics report that was given to the defense only a day before trial. McCoy teases Schiff for his dismissal of McCoy's concerns, and Schiff agrees that Hynes hasn't been acting like himself. He tells McCoy to see if Hynes was bribed or influenced otherwise.
A court official who assigns judges to cases talks to Kincaid. Hynes had sent his clerk to request the Nicodos case. The clerk didn't say why.
"I heard Hynes was getting divorced. Maybe he wanted a murder case to cheer him up."
The clerk admits that Hynes asked for the Nicodos case. Kincaid sends him out, after warning him not to tell anyone. She plays Devils Advocate, saying that Hynes might have just wanted a high-profile case to get publicity, but McCoy says that Hynes would only get bad publicity from acquitting Nicodos. McCoy wants to subpoena Hynes, but Kincaid points out that bribery would cost Nicodos a year in jail at most. McCoy says that, if Hynes was bribed, double jeopardy doesn't apply. When Kincaid says that the Constitution is clear, McCoy maintains his stance.
"I don't think the Constitution protects rigged trials."
Kincaid tells the cops that Nicodos's attorney has no bad record or history with any ethics agencies — he's completely clean, and never even met Hynes. The same story holds for Peter Nicodos himself — he never met Hynes before the trial. Kincaid asks about parents, and they realize that Peter Nicodos Sr and Hynes went to college together. Curtis takes out a financial statement showing that Hynes was drowning in debt, but got a mortgage at an incredible rate. Briscoe reads that he doesn't have enough equity to justify that loan.
"I've heard of friendly bankers, but this sounds like love."
A banker tells Kincaid that Hynes received a preferential rate that only important customers get. Kincaid points out that Hynes has no money, and the banker says that they made a 'character loan.' He doesn't want to talk to Kincaid, but Kincaid threatens him with a subpoena, and he admits that Elaine Nicodos requested that Hynes get the loan at cost. He'll save about $300,000 from the cheaper interest rate. The banker says that Elaine would have taken her business elsewhere had he not given Hynes the loan.
Hynes and his lawyer are interrogated. Hynes says that he hasn't done anything wrong and doesn't even know Elaine. Schiff comes in, and the cops and McCoy leave. Schiff sends out Hynes's lawyer too.
"Get rid of him."
"Edgar, are you sure—?"
—Adam Schiff and the lawyer
He tells the cops to turn off the microphone. Hynes tries to tell him that the case is garbage, but Schiff says that he not only believes in the case, he authorized the arrest.
"How could you? You're a judge, for Heaven's sake!"
Hynes wants the benefit of the doubt, but Schiff doesn't give it to him. Hynes confesses — his wife was taking everything in the divorce, and he needed the money. He begs Schiff for help.
"You're going to prison, Edgar. Where and for how long is up to you."
Hynes says that Elaine approached him and told him that she could get him a great loan if he let Peter walk.
"Adam, they have so much money. They would have beaten it anyway."
"Hardly the point."
—Edgar Hynes and Adam Schiff
Rothenberg complains about Elaine's arrest, but Kincaid shows him statements from the loan manager and Hynes testifying about the bribe. McCoy threatens Rothenberg with disbarment, but Elaine says that he had no idea, and nor did Peter. McCoy says that she doesn't seem to realize how serious her crime is, but Elaine says that she just wanted to save her only remaining son. She says that they can punish her, but can't hurt Peter. McCoy contradicts her and says that he's having Peter arrested.
"What part of double jeopardy don't you understand?"
"I'm well acquainted with it, Mr. Rothenberg, and it doesn't scare me."
—Norman Rothenberg and Jack McCoy
Judge Joseph Rivera presides over the appeal. Rothenberg says that double jeopardy is absolute, but McCoy says that bribery invalidates it.
"Jeopardy never attached at this defendant's trial for the simple reason that he was never in jeopardy."
Rothenberg then says that Nicodos didn't know about the bribe and so shouldn't be punished, but McCoy says that it doesn't matter. Rivera denies Rothenberg's motion to dismiss.
In a conference, the Nicodos family and Rothenberg talk with Kincaid and McCoy. Rothenberg says he'll appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if he has to, but McCoy says he doesn't care. Rothenberg asks if a deal can be worked out, and McCoy says that he won't go below 25 years. He and Peter get up to leave, but McCoy says that he'll charge Elaine Nicodos as well. He thinks he can make her serve at least twelve years, which will more than likely be the rest of her life. Peter offers to plead guilty and serve a full sentence if his mother can go free, and he blows off his mother's and Rothenberg's objections. McCoy accepts the deal.
Schiff praises McCoy for getting around double jeopardy.
"You climbed Everest in your shorts on a very cold day. Good work."
McCoy acknowledges that they would have lost in appellate court. Then Schiff gets a phone call, and looks shocked. Hynes has committed suicide.