In the criminal justice system, one thing is certain—that on occasion, an individual or a circumstance will unveil a brief moment that makes everything absolutely worthwhile. These are such moments.
- Olivia had a handful awesome moments during the episode "Undercover".
- Moments after Fin rescues Olivia from being orally raped by a violent-psycho prison guard, Olivia looks her would-be rapist right in the face and says, "Who's the bitch now?"
- Immediately following that scene are 3 instances where Olivia looks her would-be rapist in the face showing 0 fear: first when she faces him one-on-one in the interrogation room (he even jumps in her face and she barely bats an eye), then a second time when she and Elliot go back to the prison to officially arrest him (they have a quick stare down as he's being led away in handcuffs) and finally in the last scene after taking photos of his privates for evidence, Olivia basically tells him to piss off and that he'll be in prison for at least 20 years.
- Moments after Fin rescues Olivia from being orally raped by a violent-psycho prison guard, Olivia looks her would-be rapist right in the face and says, "Who's the bitch now?"
- At the end of "Hardwired", Liv visits the mother of a molestation victim to tell her the man who molested her child got convicted of child porn possession and sentenced to two years for each one of the 1,500 child porn images on a flash drive in possession — consecutively.
- Benson takes a few levels in ninja and knocks down a particularly nasty child molester down twice — the second time without even looking at him — in "911". Hell, pretty much the whole episode, even (or especially) on the part of the writers, counts. It won an Emmy for a reason.
- The fact that she stays on the phone with Maria for so long, despite her team wanting her to hang up/give up, and digs her up at the end makes it more awesome.
- In the episode "Betrayal's Climax", Olivia and the prosecutor have managed to get proof that the gang leader that serves as the episode's Big Bad ordered the death of a key witness, rendering the confession he gave them admissible in court again. The gang leader tells Olivia he's safer in prison than she is outside. Olivia counters this threat with one of his own: he may have his own gang on his back, but Olivia tells him that she has the biggest gang in the city on her back, and that if the scumbag thinks that his guys have Undying Loyalty, that he can test the NYPD and see, letting him know in no uncertain terms that if his gang ends up with even one Cop Killer on their roster that BX9 (his gang) is finished.
- Benson's vengeance on William Lewis in "Surrender Benson" after being tortured for four days is absolutely delicious, starting from her manipulating him into dropping his guard, all the way to the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown she inflicts on him. Despite it being against police protocol, her kicking his ass was so very deserved.
William Lewis will never hurt anyone ever again, unless you allow him to exert his power over you.
- Lt. Murphy gets a moment, too, when he stands up for her at the IAB hearing after her ordeal with Lewis. Throughout the episode, a case has been built towards her engaging in police brutality, as Lewis had committed suicide with Benson's gun, with only himself and Benson in the room, as one last way of hurting her. When it seems Lewis will win yet again, Murphy stands up for her and delivers a great speech. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment, because Murphy's agenda has been unclear, and he comes across as an outsider to the close-knit SVU team.
- In "Babes", the unit has encountered a number of private school girls who, despite pledging their chastity until marriage, have gotten themselves pregnant on purpose. They all point to one named Fidelia as the girl who started the trend. When Benson goes to interview her, Fidelia begins to feed her a typical teenager's "you're jealous" taunting, basically making it clear that she's only having the kid thinking it'll get her attention and treating it like a trendy accessory. How much this actually gets under Liv's skin is debatable, but one can see the glint of evil in her eyes just before she starts listing the unpleasant facts of teenage motherhood until the girl runs crying into her father's arms. Lesson: don't treat a baby like a new pair of shoes. Olivia Benson will destroy you.
- In "Bedtime", the team goes after a social worker who uses his position to sexually harass women (and who is also a suspected serial killer). In order to catch him in the act, Olivia goes undercover as a homeless woman. Sure enough, as he's "helping" her fill out the form, the social worker starts feeling Olivia up...just as she gets to the part about most recent employer.Social Worker: Just jot down your last job. Whatever.
Olivia: That's an easy one; Special...Victims...Unit! (Jumps up and pushes the social worker onto his desk) Did I not mention that?
Social Worker: You're a cop!
Olivia: And you are a creep!
- "Avatar" had a Smug Snake elude the team's attempts to pin him down for anything. They try to track down his suspected first victim, but she's actually still alive. Meanwhile, he's walking calmly towards the airport, fully aware that Elliot is following him, and crosses the street — whereupon Elliot arrests him for jaywalking. This gives them the chance to work him into a confession.
- In "Pandora", Stabler travels to Prague in cooperation with Interpol to catch Erich Tassig, a man publishing pornography of abducted girls on the internet. When Stabler apprehends Tassig, the perp makes the mistake of saying American laws wouldn't let Stabler lay a hand on him during the interrogation. Stabler's Interpol partner reminds Tassig that he doesn't sit in an American jail and sends the stationed guard out of the room. Stabler, knowing he can do so without reprimand or punishment, takes great joy in dishing out some much-deserved punishment to Tassig before the perp coughs up the info Stabler needs.
- After returning to the US, Stabler learns he "opened Pandora's box" by arresting Tassig: the info he gave up implicates numerous people in a child porn ring, including a couple acting as payment processors. After Stabler joins the Feds to bust the couple, he learns the address of the man he'd wanted all along: a molester who sold porn of himself raping his daughter over a period of years. Stabler and another detective show up to the man's house, and while the other detective gently guides the child (who answers the door) to safety, Stabler finds the molester sleeping. He puts his gun against the perp's head, pauses for a second, then wakes him up and tells him he's under arrest. After everything Stabler had seen and done in this episode, he still managed to keep his cool and make the arrest by the book.
- In "Manhunt", murderer Darryl Kern escapes to Canada while on the run; after the authorites capture him, Munch — who had spent the episode hunting Kern down — learns Canada won't extradite Kern back to the US unless the death penalty gets waived. The attorney who fights Kern's extradition gets asked if Canada might become a safe haven for murderers trying to escape extradition; he says he prefers not to speculate on hypothetical situations which may or may not result from the high court's ruling. ADA Cabot fires back by saying the state of New York will only seek extradition on the charge of possession of stolen property — the car Kern stole to get into Canada — and when Kern's attorney objects, the judge retorts by using the same line about not speculating on the aforementioned hypothetical situations. The court grants the petition to extradite, Kern gets handed back over to the NYPD, and Munch takes great satisfaction in formally arresting Kern on first degree murder charges.
- Probably the most satisfying and well deserved What the Hell, Hero? moment to Stabler. Coming from Fin. To explain, in the episode "Cold", Eliot thinks Fin has tipped off a suspect (who happens to be their colleague, Chester) to run, and dumps his phone records to check. A correct move for a cop, but an absolute dick move to do to a friend and co-worker (even Olivia thinks he should've just asked Fin). Elliot tries (halfheartedly) to apologize, but Fin's having none of it:Fin: You're a bulldog, Stabler. Quick to assume, slow to admit when you're wrong. Makes for a good cop, but a lousy human being.Olivia: Fin, hear him out.Fin: Stay out of it, Liv. That being said, I know what it cost you.Elliot: Appreciate that.Fin: I'm not done. The problem is you will still be the same rat bastard tomorrow, and nothing you say will ever change that. (walks out of the station, handing his transfer request to Munch on his way out)
- In "Legitimate Rape", a free rapist is suing his victim for custody of their rapechild. The judge awards her full custody of the infant, but he gets court-mandated visits for two hours every week. When she doesn't show up at the station for the first visit, the prick starts getting angry and throwing tantrums, demanding an Amber Alert, and Fin tells him, "Listen, you want to be a father? The first thing you need to learn is it's not all about you anymore!"
- In "Melancholy Pursuit", the unit suspects, following the lead from a partial DNA match, that one of three brothers is responsible for the murder of a 15-year-old, but they have no way to narrow down which one it is without DNA and no grounds to collect DNA for comparison. Fin gets the idea to run a "random" sobriety checkpoint at a place they know all three are going to be and then bag the breathalyzers from those three for DNA. It works.
- Despite "Runaway"'s Downer Ending, he manages to give a cathartic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Internal Affairs Bureau (Designated Villains or not) for seeming more concerned about the rights of a Sociopath than about those of his innocent victims.
- In "Acceptable Loss", in Cragen's first case back after being cleared of murder, the team stumbles on a human trafficking case that happens to be linked to a terrorism case. They're warned to back off, but, unable to let the case go completely, they try to pursue it from a different angle and convince one of the trafficked girls to cooperate, only to get a lecture from Homeland Security about how their actions endangered the other case. Just as this is sinking in, they overhear a particularly heartbreaking part of the victim's statement over the intercom. Even though he's already on thin ice, Cragen doesn't so much as hesitate.Cragen: If they want to fire me, they know where to find me. Go get these sons of bitches.
- In "Limitations", Cragen gives a non-restrained verbal beatdown to the commissioner, calling him out on his concern purely for his position while Cragen and his time have been working tirelessly to catch a serial rapist.Commissoner: "You're dangerously close to insubordination, Captain."Cragen: "Then, write me up or get out of my office!"
- In "Users", Dr. Huang treats an addict witness with an illegal drug so the witness can testify against his dealer. When the dealer — a psychiatrist — finds out and threatens to report Huang, he counters by saying he'd already reported himself; he considered his one-month suspension a worthy price to pay to take the dealer down.
- The magnificent and openly furious What the Hell, Hero? he delivers to Stabler in "Coerced" when he realizes Stabler has intentionally driven a mentally ill suspect into a breakdown during an interrogation. While Huang may normally be cool and collected, in this episode he demonstrates that you do not mess with people under his care.
- In "Deadly Ambition," Amaro initially appears to be heading straight into What an Idiot! territory by expressing sympathy for Rollins' lying scumbag sister and reciprocating when she flirts with him. He even takes Kim out to a nice restaurant for dinner on the spur of the moment. Except that nice dinner? Is basically Amaro pulling a male Honey Trap, where he charms Kim right into confessing the entire Frame-Up of Amanda on tape. Since Kim had spent the entire episode being a remorseless Manipulative Bastard to everyone in sight, watching Amaro completely own her at the same tactic is very satisfying. He's so good that he even has the recording device (his phone) right out on the table and she never even suspects.
- Amaro's Big Damn Heroes shooting of the perp of the week in "Hunting Ground" right before the perp can kill Benson, especially because Amaro cleverly uses the guy's own creepy crawlspace to stealthily line up his shot (the crawlspace being a minor detail one of the perp's escaped victims had mentioned in passing).
- At the climax of "Holden's Manifesto", Rollins pulls off the acting gig of the century. She approaches Holden, who has killed girls for not going out with him, telling him she understands him, that those girls were just too immature to see how great he is, that women would like him. She manages to convince him to let his hostages and Nick go, claiming she wants to be alone with him, and even convinces him she wants him, manipulating his sense of entitlement and hatred towards those that rejected him to make him trust her. Rollins keeps her cool the whole time, persuading Holden to lower his gun and let her approach him, supposedly for a kiss. Had he not been taken out by a sniper's bullet, she almost certainly would've disarmed him herself.
- In "Dissonant Voices," Rollins finally snaps on the perp, a teenage girl who fabricated child molestation accusations against a completely innocent man, destroying his life. This is after Rollins had suspected the truth all along, and successfully spotted the thread earlier in the case. Giddish channels enough disgust and rage that it's as close to a Precision F-Strike as the moment can get on a network show.Suspect: [rants about needing to be special because that's what everyone else said]Rollins: Well then it must have really SUCKED to find out everyone was lying to you!!
- In "Harm," a doctor assisted soldiers in the torture of detainees in Iraq by advising them on "less severe" methods of torture (which are still pretty horrific, even though she claims otherwise). Dr. Sutton claims that her skills help the U.S. fight Iraq. Melinda Warner not only gets the State Board for Professional Misconduct to suspend the doctor's license, but she makes sure the doctor knows why she did it.Dr. Sutton: This country's at war. I've got skills to contribute to that fight. You really want me not to use them?Warner: You took an oath. You don't get to take a time-out because we're at war, because it's difficult to uphold. The oath was written for times like these.
- "Blast" is basically an entire episode of CMOA for Warner, but she caps it off by shooting an armed robber in the knee, taking him down safely just as he was about to commit Suicide by Cop.
Dominick "Sonny" Carisi
- In "Decaying Morality", after the SVU squad manage to bust a dentist who raped his niece and other women, Carisi physically escorts him to get printed. He then lays into the rapist for raping his niece along with destroying his family by manipulating her sister's husband to kill an innocent man (who was suspected to be the rapist but was actually trying to help said niece). When the rapist complains about Carisi hurting his hands, a livid Carisi asks him if that is all he has to say. This culminates in Carisi forcefully grabbing his fingers and asking what hurts more: that or what he did to his niece. A crunching sound is visibly heard. Although it is inadvisable in Real Life, that scene was pretty satisfying to watch.
- In "Nationwide Manhunt", Carisi physically intervenes, putting himself in the line of fire, when the local cops are preparing to shoot Carl Rudnick on the chance that he might be putting on a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. It's not that Carisi denies that Rudnick is a bad person who did horrible things (in fact, he's the one who found the critical piece of evidence to send Rudnick to prison), he just values life that much that he doesn't want to see anyone, even a serial killer, die unnecessarily.
- In the same season, Carisi getting a crooked priest to confess in "Unholiest Alliance" by appealing to his faith. The rest of the squad didn't even think it would be possible, but it works for Carisi because he genuinely believes every word of what he's saying.
- Dodds gets a particularly awesome one at the end of "Star-struck Victims". A popular actor, Bobby D'Amico, and a friend of his are charged with rape, and when the D.A. says there's not enough evidence, Rollins goes undercover to catch them in act. Unfortunately, they never get to use Rollins' evidence in court, and Bobby and his friend are acquitted, much to their accuser's devastation. However, Dodds gets to have the last laugh as he leaks Rollins' evidence video to the press, effectively ruining D'Amico.Sgt. Dodds: D'Amico got what he deserved. Told you I never liked the guy.
The Entire Team
- The time they get a Criminal Mind Games type baddie to reveal where he's hidden a near-dead kidnap victim by bringing in his mother—who reveals he's afraid of the dark. Elliot and Olivia immediately haul him into a nearby closet, smash the light, throw him in, and then lean on the door like they're in high school. The guy won't confess. Once Cragen locks the door, he confesses.
- Say what you will about Elliot, but the bitch slap he delivers to the perp during that interrogation was satisfying to watch.
- The resolution to the three-part arc "Rhodium Nights" to "Above Suspicion," in which the squad takes down the biggest prostitution ring in New York. A turf war between a powerful pimp and an even more powerful madam has left several people, including an ex-governor, dead and Captain Cragen has been framed in the death of one of these victims, a woman working for the pimp. As the case proceeds several other witnesses meet with, ahem, "convenient accidents" as well. How do the detectives solve this? Using tapes seized from the pimp, they discover he's a racist; they then use this information to convince his African-American lawyer, who previously seemed like an utterly slimy mob attorney type, to turn informant for them and get the pimp to confess to having the ex-governor murdered and then killing the assassin himself, who was also the woman Cragen has been accused of killing. But they're not out of the woods yet: the madam gets one of her prostitutes to charge Cragen with rape, and to make matters worse, the prosecutor has decided to drop all charges against the madam, since the pimp confessed to the initial murders and they can't prove the deaths of the witnesses weren't accidental. Essentially on a hunch, Olivia subpoenas the prosecutor's financial records and discovers that she'd recently come into a very large amount of money; confronted with this information, the prosecutor admits that the madam bribed her with money for her disabled daughter, and gives up the information necessary to put herself, the madam, all her henchmen, and the various rich men who'd covered for her, up to and including the Secretary of State of New York, behind bars.
- Kudos to both the writing staff and the squad: in the shows 21 year run, only one major character has been killed off (two if you count Tucker). And there have been some close calls.
- In "Savior," a defense attorney attacks a witness's credibility on the basis that the witness has been a prostitute since the age of 12. Cabot, on redirect, has the witness estimate her pimp has forced her to have sex 13,000 times. Cabot then turns to the defense attorney and says "I hope I cleared things up for you, counselor. That [points to the witness] is a victim, and that [points to the defendant] is a criminal." She wins the case.
- ADA Alex Cabot gets one in her very first episode:Cragen: Let's see how good our new ADA really is.Alex: You want me to secure a search warrant for the offices of a defense contractor to search classified national security files for evidence in a sexually motivated homicide?Cragen: Yeah, you got a problem with that?Alex: Hello? Judge Herriman please. Alex Cabot with the ADA's office. [pause] Uncle Bill? I need a favor. [warrant hits desk]
- In one episode when trying to find the four men who they worked out to have raped a 15-year-old, one of the suspects who they don't have enough evidence to take DNA from is willing to hand in his passport provided he be allowed to travel to Virginia for an internship. Alex agrees without hesitation, leaving Cragen, Munch and Stabler wondering why in the hell she would do that. Alex is then quick to explain that Virginia recently became the first state to allow DNA collection upon arrest, without an indictment. Cut to said suspect having been arrested for sharing a similar appearance with a bank robber, getting them the DNA they need to prove he had sex with the victim.
- The detectives find out that Jacob's Ladder-esque experiments carried out by the army caused a soldier's disturbing behavior and subsequent suicide; Novak wants justice, and she sure as hell doesn't mess around:Arthur Branch: Conference room. Now. (storms out)Elliot Stabler: What's that about?Casey Novak: Oh, probably just another of the subpoenas I sent out.Stabler: For what?Novak: Donald Rumsfeld.note
- Casey gets another, arguably even better one in "Svengali": she makes a deal with a famous murderer who thinks of his killings as "works of art" to testify against one of his "fans" in a murder trial. The "artist" sandbags his testimony and plays up the drama to the hilt, which results in a huge scene in the courtroom involving the defendant — but Casey thought he might pull that sort of stunt, so she prepared a special "thank you" for the testimony:Casey: [approaches Morton as he leaves the courthouse in chains] Well, you were great.Robert Morton: Did you like it? Bet you didn't know what was gonna happen next.Casey: You put on quite a show. You got her off; she's going to a psych ward.Morton: Is that a frown on your pretty face?Casey: Actually, I think Cecilia is going exactly where she belongs. And so are you.Morton: [smirking] You're backing out on the deal.Casey: No, you're being transferred to a federal prison.Morton: [looking surprised] I thought you'd be a sore loser.Casey: [smiling smugly] You're gonna love Florence SuperMax: 23-hour lockdown, no visitors, no mail, no phone calls — no human contact for the rest of your life.Morton: You can't do that to me!Casey: Why don't you wave bye to all of your fans?Morton: We made a deal!Casey: And it's a masterpiece. How do you like my work?
- Casey gets an entire episode of CMOA in Poison to show off her dedication to doing The Right Thing when she tries a case before a biased judge with very definite views of what makes a good mothernote ; the judge ignores practically all the evidence saying a woman attempted to murder her adopted daughter. Casey soon discovers another case the judge presided over where a mother who didnt fit his criteria note ended up convicted of her baby's murder despite the possibility of a genetic defect that could account for the death — evidence the judge had not allowed to be presented. In both of these cases, the right to a jury trial had been waived and the judge made the decision to convict or acquit on his own. Novak goes on a crusade to get the guilty mother convicted, the innocent mother out of jail, and the judge thrown off the bench even though it could harm her career. Casey gets her mentor to represent the innocent mother, and the two manage to get her conviction overturned. When the guilty mother ends up actually murdering her daughter, Casey takes great satisfaction in cross-examining the judge on the stand during the murder trial. Once the trial is over, the judge finds himself beleagured by the press, whose questions strongly imply he's about to be reassigned to civil court.
- Casey again in "Mean," when she spots the thread in the middle of a defendant's testimony in court. The defendant, a teen girl who participated in a murder, gives herself away by mismatching her birth date with the birthstone on the class ring she'd taken off the victim's body. When it's Casey's turn to cross, she absolutely hammers the girl on the inconsistency, driving the girl into a meltdown where she spills the entire story on the stand.
- The end of the episode "Infected": Casey has been prosecuting a kid who killed the man who murdered his mother. His defense attorney was arguing that gun violence was like a disease and that seeing his mother shot caused the kid to become "infected", thus the murder wasn't his fault. Casey comes to agree to an extent and offers the kid a plea bargain, but before the judge can officially accept it, a lawyer for the national gun association comes into the courtroom with an injunction, forbidding the acceptance of the plea bargain until a civil case has been decided. The NGA wants to ban the use of the defense attorney's research because it goes against their idea that guns aren't responsible for gun violence, people are. If they win the civil case, it could create a precedent by which any interested organization could stop the use of plea bargains, which would be bad for the D.A. So how does Casey (along with the judge) solve it? When the NGA lawyer calls the kid to testify, Casey and the defense attorney allow him to go on the stand, knowing that the NGA lawyer will badger him into admitting that he killed the victim because he hated him and not because he witnessed gun violence. The minute the lawyer gets his admission, the defense attorney appeals to the criminal judge for a mistrial, based on the fact that the defendant has been compelled to incriminate himself, thus violating his Fifth Amendment rights. The criminal judge agrees and declares the case dismissed with prejudice. Casey immediately uses this as a basis to argue for the dismissal of the civil case, since there is no longer anything to fight over. When the NGA lawyer tries to call Casey out on it afterwards, Casey points out that if he hadn't interfered, the boy would be serving the sentence that had been negotiated as part of the plea bargain that they had been so insistent on stopping.
- Despite her lack of screentime, even Greylek was prone to having awesome moments. During "PTSD" when talking to military liaison that's been at odds with SVU the entire episode, including trying to take over the entire investigation from them, she introduces herself telling him that she'd like to kick his ass in court, and then takes every piece of evidence that he uses to take the case from them and twists it in the favor of SVU. She even walks off giving him the biggest Smug Snake smirk.◊
- One of her best moments is during "Smut," where we finally get to see her have a CMOA during court. She intentionally riles up Eric Lutz to destroy any credibility he has as a "mentally ill victim with a porn addiction" by showing the jurors one of his videos. When he starts getting too turned on, he demands she turns it off. When she asks him if he's sure, she points out his erection, taunting him about how that's not an objection he's raising.Lutz: No, turn it off.
Greylek: You're getting too turned on?
Lutz: I didn't say that.
Greylek: You like it don't you, Mr. Lutz? The feel of a woman struggling beneath you. The sobbing, the slapping, the fight they put up.
Lutz: I said turn it off!
Greylek: Are you sure? Because that's not an objection you're raising.
- During Hardwicke's debut episode, "Branded," she gets the rough end of SVU's welcome due to butting heads with Benson and Stabler about the case. However when Olivia confronts her after the trial of Camille Walters, where Hardwicke made her look like a crazy slut, she hands Benson a file for the defense and tells her not to look inside, before turning around, knowing full well that Olivia will, telling her that she'll see her tomorrow. The document contains information regarding Camille's daughter that prove she was raped. That's right, she throws her own case just to get justice for Camille.
- During "Pop," Hardwicke really gets to show off just how strong-willed she is. The whole episode is A Day in the Limelight for her, and she keeps up fast with Stabler's snark and antics during the case with her own, something very few people can do. She gets a good moment in arraignment where she destroys Hank Roberts with her brand of Brutal Honesty, and even when she has to make a compromise on bail, she still makes sure that he can't be near his wife and stepson. After Hank's death, she even notes Stabler talking to the stepson, and during trial, she forces what they conversed out him, again, very few people can break down Stabler's walls like that. Even when she couldn't prove whether the mother or the son killed Hank, she made sure that they wouldn't be prosecuted, again showing her strong sense for justice.
- During "Possessed," near the end of the episode, despite knowing that Larissa killed her rapist, having witnessed it herself, she refused to prosecute her, saying that she acted in defense of a third person (he was keeping a little girl hostage), and that Larissa could walk.
- ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) brutally tearing down Adam Cain in "Twenty Five Acts". Informed Ability, his isn't - and this is only his first episode. Have we got a worthy successor to Casey Novak at last??
- Note that he does this by forcing the man to expose his violent and control-freak tendencies. How? By wrapping a belt around his own neck (Cain's preferred sex game) and provoking the perp into throttling Barba with it, right in front of the jury. Then he turns around and points out to the jury that, even though he's clearly struggling to breathe afterwards, there are no marks on his neck, which could not be said of the victim after Cain was done with her.
- "Girl Dishonored" proves that Barba is pretty much a male Novak. After a college dean lies about knowing that a infamous frat house rapes women and the staff all around campus covers it up, he gets a video that proves she's lying. When he shows it to her, she tries sucking up to Barba and he responds by telling her that she will be charged as an accessory to all of these rapes.
- Barba again in "Downloaded Child." The victim is a woman who had been forced into child pornography, and now as an adult, is entitled to financial restitution from every person who has ever downloaded the videos and images she was forced to make. However, the list is in the thousands, and the already-traumatized victim is horrified at the thought of having to pursue and face every single one of them. Barba very calmly and competently goes into Crusading Lawyer mode, and takes it upon himself to go through the list. When he finds a wealthy CEO among them, he legally strong-arms the guy so that he (the CEO) is forced to pay her everything she's owed and then pursue the rest of the money himself (Truth in Television; it's called joint and several liability) and the victim can be left in peace.
- His closing statement in "Spousal Privilege":Ladies and gentlemen, this case and your decision are important. We saw the video. We heard his excuses, her denials. You may be asking, "how is it any of our business "to interfere in another couple's marriage? We don't know what goes on behind closed doors." No, but we do know... We do know that, as a society, we have evolved beyond the idea that women are property, that what they feel, what they experience doesn't matter. And by hitting Paula, by knocking her out, A.J. Martin is saying she doesn't matter. He showed gross disregard for her safety, for her very life. Now, she has a child with him. She loves him. Convicting her husband may not be what she wants. But to not convict him is plainly and simply wrong. It sends a message that it is okay to be a bully in your own home, to control, to intimidate, to physically injure your spouse. This is not okay. We must not stand by and by our silence say that it is acceptable to look the other way. Physical violence against another human being is a crime... Even if she is just your wife.
- In "Producer's Backend", after frustrating dead end after frustrating dead end with uncovering past crimes of a producer having sex with underage girls either meeting the age of consent in state laws or being outside the statute of limitations to press charges, and even the death of one of his victims that he probably caused is out because it was officially ruled an accident. Even with the flash drives provided by the producer's assistant, the states they were filmed in met the age of consent... until they find one girl in Canada who "auditioned" for a movie that was never made. Barba realizes he's finally got the producer, and the scene where he reveals it is magnificent:Brubeck: Are you asking if I slept with young, wannabe actresses? Yes, but I kept it legal.
Barba: You may have thought you did.
Brubeck: (smug) No. I did. You know, I do remember her now, she's 16. The age of consent in Canada. Not illegal.
Defense Attorney: Hold on, where-
Barba: Winnipeg Nights was never made.
Brubeck: If you people understood anything about the industry, you'd know that most projects never get off the ground!
Benson: Right, but there's usually a script, no?
Brubeck: There was. I-I registered one with the writer's guild.
Barba: Yes, you did. We subpoenaed it. It's a treatment with "ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES ADAM A DULL BOY" written over and over again over 10 pages. Authored by you.
Defense Attorney: Okay, we need to stop now. You're gonna blindside us like this? I need some time with my client-
Brubeck: It's alright, it's okay. My assistant, must have registered the wrong document.
Barba: Your signature was on the registration. Was there ever any kind of legitimate pre-production at all? A schedule, a budget?
Brubeck: I'm the creative, you'd have to talk to Dennis.
Benson: We did, and the only budget entry he submitted was for a first-class round-trip ticket to Winnipeg, and your weekend stay at a hotel. Room service bills were quite extensive, especially the pay-per-view. (slams file shut) You never left that hotel the whole weekend, did you?
Brubeck: *starts ranting about Dennis selling him out*
Defense Attorney: We're leaving.
Barba: No, you won't. There was no movie, there was never any intention to make a movie, your client traveled to Canada with the primary purpose of having sex with someone under the age of 18. A federal crime.
Brubeck: What's he talking about?
Barba: Sexual Tourism. Section 24, 23c of Title 18: engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. Punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Defense Attorney: You can't be serious. That law's intention is to stop pedophiles from flying to Thailand to have sex with 12-year-olds!
Benson: Your client is a pedophile, and a rapist, and a murderer. [to Brubeck] And if this is the only way we can get you? Then this is the way that you're going down!
Barba: The feds have been watching this interrogation. They're outside right now.
Benson: (opens the door to allow the federal agents in) Adam Brubeck, put your hands behind your back. You're under arrest.
- In "Parole Violations", the defense blackmails Barba's witness into testifying for them in exchange for dropping charges. On the stand, the witness claims that he is no longer on drugs, thanks to the parole officer who is on trial. When it's Barba's turn, he asks the witness to roll up his sleeves, revealing several fresh needle marks. The defense attorney immediately tries to call for a recess only to have the Judge shut him down and tell Barba to continue.Defense Attorney: I'd like to call a recess, your honor.Barba: Now? He's my witness.Judge: Agreed. Continue, Mr. Barba[later]Defense Attorney: I need a recess, your honor!Barba: Yeah, I bet you do.
- Barba winning the case in "Daydream Believer" by getting the defendant, who is representing himself, to reveal his true colors. He calls Dr. Warner back up and asks a few minor questions about the victim's body. While he's talking to her, he subtly holds the autopsy photos within view of the defendant. Then he just sits back down and watches the fireworks.
Judge: Mr. Barba, not to put words in your mouth, but I'm willing to entertain an objection if you have one...Barba: I'm fine, your honor.
- Doubles as a Funny Moment:
- In "41 Witnesses", Barba's last witness shows up to testify, only he's currently intoxicated. After giving his testimony, the defense attorney asks the man if he's drunk right now which he confesses to being. Thinking quickly, Barba asks for a redirect then begins to ask the man a series of memory questions. The man is able to answer them without trouble, showing the jury that despite being drunk, he can still function properly.
- In "Contrapasso", a rapist is castrated in revenge. His defense attorney proceeds to milk this in order to argue that the rapist already suffered enough. Barba has an uphill mountain to climb, until he decides to take the defense attorney's argument to its logical conclusion: Eye for an Eye justice, which would culminate in, essentially, bloodbaths. He wins the case.
- Barba tearing down Optimum Air in "Flight Risk". Far from satisfied with just the one pilot rapist from their company going to jail for his crimes and completely outraged when it looks like the rest of the entire airline's misogynistic practices will be swept under the rug and continue to be in business, especially after trying to cover up the rapes, Barba goes for the jugular. He convenes a grand jury to hear from several female employees from Optimum about their experiences with sexual harassment and how each time they tried to report it, resulted in a cover up or a decreased salary. Most notably, Ellen Gray, assistant to Optimum Air owner Carl Flemming, comes forward with a memo drafted by Flemming which circulated among Optimum's male executives from five years back (which no other female employee saw other than her, who was tasked to type it) blatantly dictating sexist bias against women as pilots. Barba has this to say for his summation:Barba: [directed at a female grand juror] You know what? I don't think you have a clue about anything you've heard here today. You know how I know? You just don't look that intelligent. [to another female grand juror] And you, miss, where the hell did you get that dress? The Salvation Army wouldn't even put it onto the shelves. [to a third female grand juror] Um, I'm sure you're only here because we're forced to let you in. [back to the first female grand juror] I forgot to tell you that because you're not as smart as the other jurors, your vote is going to count less than theirs [points amoung the other jurors, particularly the male ones]. You're not really worth anything.Day after day, you can sense it. They don't really say it to your face, but you know what they're thinking. You can tell because the guy in the next office? He's making twice what you're making and does half the work. Year after year, you can tell that because that promotion that you've been waiting for? Is gone. To your boss's golfing buddy. You try to complain to anyone who will listen, and one of two things will happen: you get fired, or you get laughed at. Why? Because they don't really want you there in the first place. Year after year...until you start to believe it yourself. These may sound like rationalizations to you, ladies and gentlemen, but to me and the women of Optimum Air...that's the sound, of a woman's dignity circling the bowl. And the hand that's flushing the toliet belongs not just to the man who committed these offenses, but everyone who knew and let them happen! Can you be demeaned by a culture? I say "yes"! Can it humiliate you? You bet it can! Can it actually rape you? Sadly, the answer is "yes"!The law states that if you take another person's property, you are committing a crime. I stand here before you to assert that Optimum Air took the diginty, the...self-worth, the self-esteem, of these women. And if you don't think that's property, [points to the female grand jurors] just ask her, or her...or her, or her. And after you do, I ask you to return a true bill of indictment, charging Optimum Air and all of its employees with grand larceny. Thank you.
Benson: Congratulations on the indictment.
- The aftermath goes as follows:
Barba: Ha, the first thing Optimum will do is make a motion to dismiss - which they'll win - but I get to appeal.
Benson: And you'll win that?
Barba: 60-40 against, probably get the wheels turning. If the law's ever going to change, this is a good start.
Benson: (holding up a newspaper with the headline "When Pigs Fly" featuring Optimum Air) You know, I thought that grand jury proceedings were secret.
Barba: (mock guilt) They are, but that courthouse leaks like a sieve...
(Benson rolls her eyes playfully)
Barba: Optimum's stock is down 30% and they'll be declaring bankruptcy by the end of the week.
Benson: You're a feminist icon, Rafael!
- Barba's wonderfully brutal cross-examination of one of the rapists in "Pornstar's Requiem":Barba: Did you ever ask Ms. Barnes if she wanted to have sex with you?Defendant: No, Matt did. I trusted Matt. Maybe that was my mistake.Barba: Then all you actually heard her say was, "no," and, "stop," and you didn't.Defendant: She said, "no," all those other times and still had sex, so... Why would this be different? We were filming a scene.Barba: But she said, "no," correct? Do you believe that any woman, even a porn star, can decline sex?Defendant: Of course, I...Barba: So let's be clear. Did Ms. Barnes say, "no"?Defendant: She did.Barba: In fact, she cried. She begged you to stop repeatedly. Isn't that correct?Defendant: Well, yeah, but...Barba: You didn't stop, did you?Defendant: No.Barba: Do you understand that what you have just described is the definition of rape?
Judge: Due to the lack of sufficient evidence, I accept the defense's motion to set aside the jury's guilty verdict.Victim: What's he doing?Barba: Your honor, this is an outrageous abuse of your power.Judge: Mr. Barba-Barba: [starts walking towards the judge's seat] There is no basis to overturn this conviction. Her testimony, the corroborator's testimony-Judge: You don't need to approach the bench.Barba: [keeps walking] Your honor, you are making a factual determination. That is the jury's job, not yours!Barba: What you are doing is giving men permission to assault a woman based on her sexual history. You're setting the clock back on rape law 50 years.Judge: Last warning, Mr. Barba. I will hold you in contempt.Barba: I'm making an immediate motion to appeal.Judge: As is your prerogative.
- And then we get him rebuffing the judge when the verdict is set aside:
- In "Intersecting Lives", after all hell breaks lose from Barba indicting a corrupt correctional officer, a member of BX9 tries to scare him outside the courthouse:Gangster: Barba, you don't know me or who I am, but we know a lot about you, things people would want to know.Barba: Is that a threat?Gangster: Threat? No, a threat would be right here, right now, I shove you down these steps and get your skull cracked open, bleeding to death.Barba: Right here, in front of all these people? Maybe they wouldn't be able to save me, but they sure as hell would catch you. [pulls out piece of paper and starts writing on it] So, amiguito, I'll tell you what. You want to kill a DA, right here, surrounded by all these cops and cameras? Spend the rest of your life in prison? Here, here's my home address. [hands over paper] You come by any time you want.
Olivia: Hey. Everything all right?
- And then we get this quip from Barba afterward, who is obviously shaken but still his normal, snarky, Motor Mouth self:
- In "Crush," a dirty family court judge specialized in convicting innocent teenagers of major crimes so she could sentence them to a hellhole juvenile detention facility run by her cousin, who pays the judge kickbacks for each bed she fills. When the judge convicts a girl who had consensually texted a naked picture of herself to her boyfriend and no one else on child porn charges, prosecutor Samantha Copeland immediately questions the ruling. After some investigating by the police, Copeland uses the girl's admirer (who accidentally received the aforementioned nude pictures) and Stabler (playing a juvenile delinquent and said delinquent's father) to get the judge to incriminate herself in a sting operation. As the judge gets dragged off in handcuffs by Stabler, she practically admits she's dirty right in the courtroom. To top it all off, the detention facility gets closed and investigated, and the girl convicted earlier in the episode has her conviction overturned and expunged.
- When Querns is defending Cassidy for his acts when undercover, he allows what seems to be a character assassination of his client and is walking out of the court for a lunch break when Barba, who was watching, says it's fascinating for a defense attorney to allow a prosecutor to turn a simple fact witness into a character assassin. Querns replies that attorney sounds like a complete incompetent. Barba agrees, but points out that Querns isn't and wonders why he did. Querns simply walks off, saying it was a nice chat and lunch is only one hour. And then the trial resumes... And as it turns out, Amaro, the fact witness, had his own escapades when undercover, which Querns gleefully exploits...
- Even a victim can get one sometimes. In "Hell," little Miriam, a former Ugandan refugee, survives having her throat slashed by pure luck. It is revealed that her attacker was a Sociopathic Soldier who used Miriam as his sex slave before she was adopted and taken to America. After he is taken into custody, Miriam asks Olivia to let her face the man in person. Miriam, utterly calm and straight-faced, slowly walks into the interrogation room and comes within inches of her boogeyman, then spits on him right between the eyes before walking out.
- At the end of "Disabled", a woman almost completely immobilized by MS manages to point out the man who had raped her and a number of other handicapped women. Even better: she points him out by flipping him off.
- What sells it is the prosecutor's response:Garrett Blaine: Cara Raleigh just gave your client the finger. Object to that.
- What sells it is the prosecutor's response:
- In "Trials", the squad learns that a serial rapist was the husband of the first victim; he "met" her in the aftermath of the rape and seduced her (he had worn a mask and disguised his voice during the rape, so she didn't recognize him). As he's being taken away on rape charges, he tries to plead with his wife to cover for him, to which she responds by kicking him in the crotch.
- In "Quickie", the perp of the week is an HIV-positive man who deliberately infected several of his sexual partners. As the trial is finished and he's about to leave the courtroom, one of his victims enters through the double doors and sprays him straight in the face with a canister of hydrochloric acid."NOW YOU LOOK LIKE THE MONSTER YOU ARE!"
- In "Charisma," who is it that ultimately takes out the cult leader (the child raping, child murdering, swindling, lying, God-complex-having cult leader)? Is it Benson? Stabler? Fin? Nope. It's a twelve-year-old girl. His so-called "wife" that he forcefully impregnated, no less. Boom, Headshot!!
- Even better, he provoked her. She was defending him at first, with him leading her on about how he'd protected her and loved her from childhood and now he'd given her a baby, but he gets ahead of himself and starts bragging, finally saying he's greater than God... and that's what convinced the girl to shoot him.
- The little girl that Olivia spends the whole episode talking to in "911." Despite being obviously (and rightfully) scared out of her mind of her captor, she manages to stay on the phone long enough and give Olivia enough information that the SVU squad finds her, and, after all those years of being kept as a sex slave and used for child porn, they find her alive. The amount of courage and desperation to live that must've took is unimaginable.
- In "Dolls," the whole episode is a long one for Violet, the mother of a girl whose daughter's gone missing. She approaches Fin when she's afraid an unidentified corpse is that of her daughter, talks to suspects and the mother of another little girl who was kidnapped (and killed) by the same perp, and always holds her ground that she only left her daughter alone with a neighbor so she could go to rehab and get clean for the sake of her daughter's safety. She even faces down the perp herself, demanding to know where her daughter is. Violet is a Mama Bear in every sense of the word, which is what makes it so beautiful when, at the end of the episode, she gets her daughter back alive.
- "Desperate" featured a woman who was raped, sodomized and murdered, with the only witness being her stepson, a little boy named Tommy. It quickly becomes apparent that Tommy's father is a controlling asshole who murdered the victim and quite possibly Tommy's mother as well. Unfortunately, he's Mr. Perfect in the public's eyes and they're having an impossible time making anything stick. In desperation, they start investigating the murder of his first wife, only to find that she had just barely escaped with her life and gone into hiding; she had come back for Tommy, but when she saw him with Jill, she thought he was better off there than on the run with her (the father, though abusive to his wives, never directly hurt Tommy). After she reveals the truth to Tommy, he agrees to testify, but is initially intimidated by his father and freezes up, causing him to be dismissed from the stand. But after his mother gives him an encouraging look when his father tries to intimidate him?Tommy: You killed Jill. (calmly walks back to stand over the uproar in court and the protests of his father and his attorney) I'm ready now.
- In the same episode, we see a network of women spanning the state, who helped the first wife smuggle herself away. Stabler outright compares them to the Underground Railway.
- Similar to Tommy is Glenn from "Care". Glenn, the only viable witness to his foster mother beating another foster child to death, is understandably terrified of said foster mother. She takes advantage of this to subtly try and intimidate him while he's testifying, but when she's called on it, she makes the mistake of saying she "didn't do anything"; she's referring specifically to the allegation that she's trying to intimidate the witness, but Glenn, who is developmentally disabled, perceives it as a blanket denial of everything, including the other child's murder. This apparent blatant lie is a bridge too far for Glenn, who breaks down and describes, in detail, exactly what she did. (Unfortunately it turns out to be All for Nothing, as the following scene reveals the killer died of a heart attack in prison before the conclusion of the trial.)
- In "Behave", Jennifer Love Hewitt plays Vicki, a woman raped four times in the last fifteen years by the same person — who had stalked her across the country. Benson picks up the case and goes on a crusade to get Vicki some actual goddamned justice. She strikes out in similar cases in Detroit and Chicago — because the rape kits were lost due to a backlog — and only managed a partial (and expired via statute of limitations) rape kit connecting the suspect to Vicki's rape in Los Angeles. When the suspect goes free after an evidentiary hearing, an upset Benson and Stabler prepare to close the case before finding something that helps them immensely: the perp kept rolls of duct tape labeled with dates corresponding to his rapes — including one of Vicki's. Vicki tells Benson the perp had duct taped her during that particular attack, which allows Benson and Stabler to arrest him for kidnapping just before he could leave New York. When the cops bring him into a holding cell at the precinct, Vicki sits waiting for him. The perp begs her to renounce her accusations as a "misunderstanding", but Vicki turns the control on him:Now I'll always know where you are. Be a good boy. (Vicki closes the cell door) Behave yourself.
- In the Season 3 episode "Greed", a woman who was raped and nearly beaten to death turns out to have been set up by her own husband, a con artist who wanted her dead so he could inherit her money. When SVU learns that the marriage was invalid, which allows the wife to freely testify, the con man turns on the charm and tries to convince her not to testify against him, suggesting they go on a romantic getaway once everything is straightened out. She looks him in the eye and coldly tells him, "The only place you're going is to hell."
- In Season 16, Episode 13, "Decaying Morality", Jenna manages to trick the man who raped her into giving himself away by lying that she's pregnant. The culprit responds by saying that that's not possible because he had a vasectomy and thus could not possibly have gotten her pregnant—as opposed to responding that he never had sex with her at all, which means he just indirectly admitted that he did in fact rape her.
- In the Season 16 finale, Johnny Drake, a sadistic pimp who beat, raped and trafficked underaged girls is called to trial. Unfortunately, many of his ex-prostitutes are too afraid of him to tell the truth on the stand. Not Ariel Thornhill. She looks him dead in the eye, and fearlessly gives a detailed description of his crimes without the faintest hitch in her voice. This is enough to break Drake's smug exterior and cause him to shoot up the courtroom.
- The victim in "No Surrender" is a female Army Ranger who was in line to become a public face, and felt the need to be an untouchable soldier 24/7. After the assault, she is racked with self-loathing for "letting" herself get attacked. Thanks to a combination of pep talks and criticism from Benson, she rediscovers enough strength to tell the press, Yes, she was raped, no, this does not define her, and there is only honour in being a survivor.
- In "Witness", the eponymous witness, Nardali, is a refugee from the Congo, where she was held as a sex slave by a group of soldiers. She gets several over the course of the episode.
- First, she intervenes on behalf of the victim. She was just headed out for some fresh air, but when she sees a woman being raped, she doesn't even hesitate before pulling the rapist off the victim and beating the crap out of him.
- Then the rapist threatens that he knows she's undocumented and if she tells anyone, he'll report her to immigration, which would mean being deported back to the Congo. This threat initially silences her, but when she learns that her testimony is the only chance to convict the rapist, she agrees to testify despite the risk.
- During the trial, the defense attorney tries to suggest that she misjudged the situation because her background causes her to "see rape everywhere". She is having none of it.Nardali: I was raped. I have seen many women raped. I know that look. That dead look in the eyes when you imagine you are anywhere but there... The women in my village were raped. The women in the militia camp were raped. I was raped repeatedly by so many men, I lost count. They put their guns in my sex and one of them pulled the trigger. I was in the hospital for over a year. It left me incontinent. So yes. I have seen rape everywhere. That is how I know that girl was raped.
- At the end of the episode, Benson and Stabler tell her that they've secured her a green card. She thanks them, but tells them that she's decided to go back to the Congo after all, to try and help other survivors. She knows she's risking her life, but after her experience of helping to put a rapist behind bars, she believes for the first time that things can get better, and feels that she needs to be a part of it.
- In "Trials", features a victim who married a man unaware that he had raped her years ago. When he is revealed as her rapist and tries to sway her to say their sex was consensual, she knees him in the crotch.
- Season 20s A Story of More Woe has Britney Moore, a teenage girl who murdered her father because her 13-year-old sister Laura told her he was molesting her. But soon the truth comes out that both girls were manipulated by their neighbor, Greg Callahan. Greg was the one in a sexual relationship with Laura, not the girls father, and even forged documents so he could get custody of the girls. While questioning Laura, Benson learns that Greg proposed to her. Britney is naturally horrified and furious when discovering the truth. In a sting operation set up at a diner, Britney talks to Greg, telling him she knows about the ring he gave Laura. He denies asking Laura to marry him, and assures Britney that hell get guardianship of the girls, and theyll all be happily together. Britney then goes off script and lies, telling Greg that Laura is pregnant, and theyll have to do a paternity test to see if its their fathers. Greg of course panics and admits that the baby is his. Britney angrily confronts him for lying to and manipulating both her and Laura, before finally screaming, I KILLED MY FATHER FOR YOU! and stabbing him in the cheek with a butter knife. Thats when Benson and Fin come in to diffuse the situation. Greg begs them for help and says that hes bleeding. Fins response before cuffing him? Shut up, she shouldve killed you!
- "Rockabye" has a hooker overhearing the episode's victim being beaten. She immediately goes over to check on it and calls 911 when she sees the girl unconscious. And when her customer visibly sees the girl possibly hurt and is more concerned with getting his services, how does the woman reply?"Go to hell!"
- The reporter, Jackson Zane, from "Storm" receives information from Benson about the appearance of anthrax, something that was ordered confidential to Benson from her superiors. However, with her help, he published the story...which gets him jailed. However, when Benson tells him to reveal she was the one to give him the information, he tells her not to. Even Novak lampshades how awesome his act was.Novak: It takes a lot of balls to go to jail for the truth.
- In "Snitch", a Nigerian polygamist Chuckwei is a witness to a murder by a dangerous and suave neighborhood gangster Dennis King and is being intimidated for it. In the end, when Chuckwei finally musters the courage to testify, this exchange happens:Prosecutor: And the man who beat [the victim] to death, is he in this courtroom?Chuckwei: (points at King) That is the man. ThereKing: He's a liar. The cops are makin' him lie!Chuckwei: (jumps out of his seat defiantly) No! NO! You murdered that boy in front of a crowd of people! And in front of GOD!!King: (gets out of his chair to attack Chuckwei but is restrained by court officers) "You're dead! You're family's dead! EVERYTHING YOU LOVE IS DEAD! YOU'RE DEAD!"
- When one of the three rapists in "Military Justice" begins insulting the victim and how "she never would've made it" in the military in front of the victim's father. The man's response? Punch the bastard in the face so hard, the asshole hits the floor. Also, note that the father is significantly older than the rapist...and yet, lands a punch on him so hard that he falls flats on his ass.
- In "Pattern Seventeen," a serial rapist attempts to rape a twelve year old girl, but failed because her dog bit him and wouldn't let go, so he eventually gave up and ran away before the dog could draw too much attention. Even better? When the SVU squad gets there, the girl tells them that when the kidnapper was trying to force her into his car, she got her earbuds out of her pocket and hid them down in the seats of the car, so there'd be proof she was there. That's right; a would-be victim, a child, had the presence of mind to leave a clue behind in case the worst happened. And it works! Her earbuds being found allow the squad to identify the perp's car, which means they can find him.
- In "The Long Arm Of the Witness", the team go after Judge Gallagher who's been known to be biased on racial cases and abuse of women and planning to run for office. ADA Holmes tricks Gallagher into confessing on tape in the men's room to his treatment of women and he's naturally going to be found guilty.
- The gang are annoyed Gallagher cuts a deal for a year of home arrest, figuring he'll use it to make himself a "victim of the system" for his campaign. But to the shock of everyone, the black female judge says that is not enough and orders Gallagher to spend the entire year in a jail cell. Even if his lawyer can appeal it, it means he's a convicted felon and his political career is over.