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    Cutter provoking the Bipolar Roller 
  • In "Skate or Die," Cutter provokes the Bipolar Roller into attacking him so he can give him some anti-psychotics and get him to testify. Nobody calls him on how bad and unprofessional this is not even Olivet who was actually in this episode, despite the fact Elliot did something similar on SVU and was rightfully scolded and threatened for doing so by Huang.
    • Olivet calls McCoy and demands that Cutter be suspended. What I was more confused by is that him attacking Cutter was necessary to prove that he was a danger to himself or others. What about the nine murders he committed?
      • Those didn't prove that he was a danger while restrained at the mental institution. To be forced to take the drugs, Cutter had to prove that, even locked down as Applebaum was, he was still a danger without them.

    "Judge Dread" 
  • Attempt on her life aside, how has no one brought forward a complaint regarding Judge Linda Karlin's always-maximum sentences even for minor felonies (often in the hundreds of years)? Her reputation with fifteen years on the bench is well known, but the episode never mentions any professional complaints from any other members of the judicial system (D.A.'s Office, appeals courts, etc.).
    • Fear of retaliation perhaps. In an SVU episode, Judge Taft, a biased judge, had retaliated against a defense lawyer after he asked Taft to recuse himself.
    • Another possibility is that most, if not all, of the defendants in question were not of means and felt that filing a complaint wouldn't help.
    • Yet another possibility is that her decisions on her lengthy prison sentences were reduced on appeal. Or that her reputation was exaggerated.
    • Another thing: This took place before social media existed. If Karlin was acting this way today, there'd be a lot more public attention/backlash.
      • I imagine after Karlin's outburst in the DA's office, her behavior in the courtroom is going to get a lot more attention.
    • There's always a first time. Judge Karlin has almost certainly heard a lot of cases in fifteen years, her sentences presumably fall within statutory limits (even if on the maximum side), and assuming she's otherwise conducted herself ethically and appropriately there's not necessarily a reason for anyone to file a complaint or investigate how she handles her cases. Besides which, she won't necessarily impose a sentence in every case she hears; a lot of them will be settled with a plea deal, or the defendant will be acquitted, and so on. So it's highly likely that no one noticed anything askew until someone felt desperate enough to put a contract out on her. Besides which, for better or worse judges have a lot of discretion over the sentences they impose, and IIRC there's nothing actually illegal about always imposing the maximum sentence; the judge is expected to consider mitigating circumstances, and basic decency would suggest that those mitigating circumstances, if compelling, should factor into the judge's decision, but there's no rule that says they have to if the judge isn't sufficiently convinced. So there either were likely no grounds for filing a professional complaint or no one has noticed the pattern until now.

     Fertility Doctor 
  • In the Season 5 episode "Seed," the cops investigate a fertility doctor, finding evidence he defrauded his patients with a treatment that didnít work, telling them they were pregnant then staging fake miscarriages to explain the lack of a baby. On the way, they uncover a different fraud, that for other patients seeking in vitro fertilization, heís used the same sperm donor dozens of times despite promising clients that a given donor is used only four times. After the lawyers take over and go through some difficulties, they find the donor was the doctor himself. At that point they say they canít prosecute him for fraud because though itís despicable, thereís nothing illegal about using his own sperm and all he promised the patients was the donor would be anonymous. They have to struggle to persuade one couple who wanted to use the husbandís sperm to come forward, because apparently they were the only ones defrauded. So hereís the problem: what about the promise each donor would be used only four times? Wasnít that fraud? What about the fraudulent fertility treatment the cops found early on? Not as startling as the sperm donation, but it did lead to a womanís death that opened the episode. Why canít they prosecute him for any of that?
    • It all hinges on pretty much the same stumbling block; in order to prove the fraud, they have to prove the doctor used his own semen to fertilise his patients, which means they basically have to prove that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of children are in fact not from the fathers their families thought but from their corrupt fertility doctor, and they pretty much need the consent of said families in order to do so. This is all something that could possibly shatter families and marriages and ruin lives, so the issue is not so much that they wouldn't be able to prove the fraud, but that they would encounter a lot of expected and, to be fair, entirely understandable resistance and lack of cooperation from the families involved in order to do so. Even then, it's worth noting that the episode ends with Jack and Claire noting that it's possible that some day they'll persuade someone to come forward and testify against the doctor; it's just very unlikely and not worth any further effort to pursue at the moment. As for the fake fertility diagnosis (diagnoses), the police themselves note to the victim's husband that this is essentially a "he said, she said" case — the doctor can just claim it was a misdiagnosis of pregnancy, and no one can really prove otherwise. It makes him a bad doctor, and one potentially at risk of getting his ass sued off for malpractice, but not necessarily criminal (in a way that can be proved).

     Location of the 27th Precinct 
  • Where is the 27th precinct located? They have shown the main characters investigating cases from Inwood to the Staten Island Ferry terminal (which, to people who haven't been in New York, are at opposite ends of Manhattan) and that's just not possible.
    • Police have a limited jurisdiction and VERY territorial about it. Investigating cases outside of your area unless you are invited is almost verboten and will usually end up starting a turf war.
    • Of course, in a meta-sense, the real reason it's kept vague is to allow the writers to send the detectives all over the city to investigate crimes and thus open up storytelling possibilities (so they can, say, go to an affluent neighborhood one week after a run-down one the previous week, or look at mob dealings at the docks one week and then a high-society heist-gone-wrong the other) rather than having to limit themselves to a relatively small section of New York. It's just a leap of faith we have to make in order to watch the show.
    • It should be on the Upper West Side, just north of Central Park. The real life 26th and 28th precincts are next to each other there. 27th was absorbed by those two as part of a consolidation following the widespread introduction of patrol cars; there were more, smaller precincts in the years when patrol was almost entirely by foot. Now, most of the crimes that the detectives on the mothership series actually investigate take place in that area. That's where the territorial aspect comes in; detectives are assigned a case because they're from the detective squad of the precinct where the crime took place. But once they begin investigating, they can actually go anywhere in the city to question suspects/witnesses as needed. The detectives on the case are THE detectives on the case, regardless of how far afield the investigation takes them; they don't hand off the entire case to another squad just because a witness lives in Brooklyn and saw something while visiting their cousin in Manhattan. That said, a) they do play a bit loose with the actual precinct boundaries (which makes sense considering the precinct doesn't actually exist) and b) Law & Order was (and SVU still is) filmed at a studio on Chelsea Piers further downtown. note 

     Exploring Van Buren's lost lawsuit? 
  • Why did they never explore the issues that would have arisen when Van Buren lost her lawsuit?
    • It always struck me as almost impossible that the case would have been resolved in the manner that it was and that the brass would have acted in the manner that they did. Nobody likes whistleblowers or complainers, that's for sure. But having one of the few (if not the ONLY) black female police Lieutenants being passed over for promotion (and a non-minority given the position) and then treating her poorly as a result of her filing suit seemed to be a recipe for additional lawsuits and poor publicity. Those are things that no police department would need.

    Regular case or SVU case? 
  • There was an episode where a guy was killed and strapped to his bed. This had sexual overtones all over it, so why didn't SVU get it?
    • Early episodes had some SVU-esque episodes before SVU was actually created.
    • Because he was found dead and homicide should always be called when somebody dies regardless of overtone. SVU is only supposed to handle rape, sexual assault and child abuse. They might be asked to consult on a case if they involved one of the above but they should not be the primary investigators. Only an ME as bad as Warner would have called them on a case like that, Rodgers knows better than to put someone like Stabler on a murder case. Why do you think she no longer calls SVU to her morgue?
      • That may be true in real life, but it seems pretty clearly established that whatever the case may be for their real-life counterparts, in the Law & Order universe, SVU does handle sexually-charged murders and other murders that relate to SVU crimes; there's just no way they could be taking cases outside their purview for over two decades without a single person (including all the various antagonists who go out of their way to dig up dirt on SVU, not to mention the serious By-the-Book Cop types that would object on principle) so much as commenting on it, and you certainly wouldn't have the brass directing SVU to work a murder case, which happens several times, if that's not supposed to be their purview. Plus, there's at least a few early episodes where the detectives handle rape or kidnapping cases where no one is killed (or any homicides happen after they've already been assigned the case, rather than them being assigned the case because it's a homicide) that would be SVU cases regardless. The most likely in-universe explanation is basically a variation on the Meta reason: that in the early years of this series, the NYPD didn't yet have a designated unit for sexual crimes, so those crimes were handled by the local precinct until SVU was created.

    Doctor keeping his medical license? 
  • In "Helpless" (Season 3, Episode 6), how the hell did Dr. Merritt keep his medical license? I understand how he ducked the criminal charges (at first), but when you cop to having sex with a patient, how are you not immediately getting a smackdown from the AMA (at the VERY least)?
    • He's re-arrested very soon after the trial for Olivet's rape, so it's possible that the disciplinary committee had simply not gotten around to reprimanding him as yet.

    Not convicting the guilty little girl? 
  • In "Killerz" (Season 10, Episode 2), why did they charge both defendants with murder when the little girl confessed to being an accessory after the fact and explicitly stated she had no idea what her friend was up to? Her confession seemed fairly candid and they never explain why they're convinced she was guilty of murder.
    • First off, they dropped the charges against her and she did not serve any jail time after she testified against her friend and claimed she had nothing to do with it. Secondly, she was not an accomplice after the fact she was an accomplice during the murder, she stood lookout while her sadistic misandrist friend abducted the child, she helped take him to an isolated spot with her and she stood by and watched as she killed him. I do not think that the charges should have been dropped against her but she was based on Nora Bell (sidekick of Enfant Terrible Serial Killer Mary Bell), who also did not serve any time.
    • According to my recollection, they dropped the charges against Jenny (the actual killer) so they could get her put in a mental institution; her accomplice was just sentenced as a juvenile. Second, the accomplice never did anything illegal until Jenny ordered her to help put the boy's body in the pipe; her confession specifically stated she had no idea Jenny was intent on killing the boy and presumably thought they were going taking him out to play.

    Briscoe hiring a hitman? 
  • Did Briscoe really hire a hitman to kill the guy that killed his daughter as the Season 8 finale suggests?
    • Season 9 tried to suggest the killer was offed in an unrelated criminal act, suggesting that Lenny never got the chance to do what he was thinking of doing. I didn't buy it in the least and thought Lenny had the guy whacked.
    • It's deliberately kept ambiguous for the viewer to make up their own minds. If you think Briscoe's the kind of guy who'd do that, then he got his revenge. If you think Briscoe would ultimately decide against it, then he managed to keep his integrity while still seeing the killer of his daughter receive some kind of punishment.

     Girl's Gone Wild episode 
  • In the episode "Release" (Season 17, Episode 8), the detectives and the DA office seemed to really push the boundaries of believability by charging a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Girlís Gone Wild founder Joe Francis with rape and murder. In the case, they seemed to be targeting him even when he had an airtight alibi for when the murder went down. Later, after they found the real killer, she claimed he raped her, turning it into a "he said, she said" case. It later turned out, she signed a contract giving consent and there was no footage of her resisting him. They let her off with Man-2 and charged him with murder because he sent his friend to sleep with a girl which he had written permutation to do. They later bring in the mother of another girl he slept with (both were in exchange for footage of the girls stripping, despite the they fact they had signed consent forms) and killed herself. The main argument against him seemed to be that he was sleazy, which might be true, but none of that is a very solid rape case and absolutely in no way is murder. The defendantís attorney seemed to be the only one to realize it as the judge and jury sided with the DA.
    • Their argument was that he (Drake) raped her, and that the rape eventually led to the death of his friend Hudson (because the girl, Nicole, fought back when Hudson came in to rape her and ended up killing him). This would fall under the felony murder statute, which says that, if a person commits a felony (even if it isn't murder) and someone else dies as a result, the person can be charged with murder just as if he'd killed the victim himself. If he committed rape, and Hudson died because of it, Drake could be legally held responsible for the murder.
    • Even if he had written permission to sleep with her and to have other people sleep with her and even if she had known what she was signing all along, that wouldn't mean that she lost the right to change her mind and would legally be required to have sex with a man she did not want to have sex with or she'd be in breach of contract. It doesn't matter what she signed, she still didn't want to sleep with the first guy, let alone the second, and so it was rape.
    • In addition, Drake lied about when he started using consent forms; which put his credibility into doubt. Up until that point, the rape case was a "he said, she said." Once he revealed the truth about the consent forms and lied about when he started using them, it, in turn, led the DA directly to another victim whose story was identical word-for-word. That proved that one, the rape did take place, and two, that Drake's version of events was false.

    The "Law" and "Order" in the title 
  • Why are the police "Law" and the lawyers "Order"? The police keep order on the streets, while the lawyers do the legal stuff...
    • Because "Law and Order" is an established phrase, so calling the show Order and Law would sound silly. But, you can't very well show the DA prosecuting the criminal before the cops investigate the crime.
    • Also, cops are "the long arm of the law" and "law men." And in court, you say "Order!"
    • The police are the enforcement arm. They impose and execute the functional parts of the law; they represent the law in a very direct and inflexible way, and must. The lawyers, though, actually decide what the law means, and hence represent order in that they can refuse to prosecute, prosecute on a lesser charge, or deal down in the service of the greater good.
    • Both represent both aspects. The police enforce the "law" and maintain social "order." The DAs interpret the "law" in order to proceed with the case in court and represent the "order" of the criminal justice system which enables disputes and transgressions to be resolved by an official process rather than through vigilante justice or blood feuds. The police are just identified with "law" because their part in the proceedings comes first, and it's a bit stylistically effective, dramatic, and efficient to flash up LAW when identifying them and ORDER when identifying the DAs rather than flashing up LAW AND ORDER for both.

    Kidnapped kid culprits treated differently 
  • Why is it that a kid who was kidnapped as a child can snipe one person who may have screwed him and three random people for an unsympathetic reason and get away with it, but another kid, who is arguable more sympathetic, doesn't get away with killing one person on impulse?
    • Which episode are you talking about?
      • "Sheltered" and "Captive." Both have a boy being kidnapped at a young age. The boy in "Sheltered" kills his "dad's" boss because he's afraid that his "dad" will get fired. He also kills three random others to throw off the cops. He explained that he knew the difference between right and wrong, but he still got off by reason of insanity. The boy in "Captive" kills a young boy that his kidnapper had kidnapped because he's afraid of being replaced. Later in the trial, they find out that his old family life involved physical abuse at the hands of his step-father. He gets found guilty.
      • To quote a different show, "The courts are like dice. They have no memory." The results of a previous, unrelated case have absolutely no bearing on what happens in the case of the moment, especially when you consider that the chances of there being any overlap between the two juries is vanishingly small. This is convenient for dramatic purposes on the show, but it's also pretty much true.
      • Also, the ultimate issue isn't about how sympathetic the character is, it's about whether they had the mental capacity to form intent. The kid in "Sheltered" was literally brainwashed to the extent where he couldn't form rational thought; he got off on an insanity defense and was sent to a psychiatric hospital. While the killer in "Captive" did likely have Stockholm Syndrome himself, this didn't prevent him from being able to know that what he did was wrong. The reason the rest of his background comes into play is that the defense was trying to claim brainwashing caused him to do what he did, and used the fact that he didn't escape when he had the chance as evidence of how warped his thinking supposedly was; once the cops/DA find out and demonstrate that there was another, much more concrete reason for him not to want to go home, that argument that this is proof of extreme brainwashing suddenly holds a lot less water, allowing him to be convicted.
      • Another factor here may also be the potential motive. The kid in "Sheltered" killed because he believed he needed to do so to protect his family, which is a situation where killing could be justified if the threat was really that significant; the problem is that the threat wasn't that significant and his reading of the situation was totally warped due to his brainwashing. The kid in "Captive" killed out of jealousy, which would pretty much never be justifiable under any circumstances, so unless his captor had specifically brainwashed him to think that killing out of jealousy was okay — which wasn't the case here — it's much harder to explain how brainwashing could have actually made him think this was okay.

    Continuity snarl regarding executions 
  • The Season 6 finale features the execution of a someone who raped and murdered a girl, then shows everyone's reactions to it. Problem: earlier in the season, a much more sympathetic murderer was convicted and given the death penalty; he was to be the first person executed under the new system. No mention of him is made here, and they act like this one is the first person to be executed under it. Did they seriously rewrite their own canon to make their political views more acceptable?
    • Maybe he was still in the appeals process or his appeal was successful and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Having someone tried, convicted, and executed in a year stretches credibility anyway, even if he had no interest in appealing. Back then, was it mandatory that death sentences be appealed even if the person sentenced didn't want to?
      • Then and now, all death sentences in the U.S. are subject to mandatory appeal.
    • Technically he was the first person to be sentenced to be executed under the new system. Even if he didn't appeal and it wasn't automatic (and I believe it was — at least, it is in several jurisdictions which have the death penalty), they'd still have to schedule him to actually be executed.
    • Two people had been sentenced to death at this point (Sandig, in the episode "Savages," and Dobson, in "Encore"), but apparently no one had actually been executed before this episode, or at least the characters hadn't witnessed the executions. For Dobson in particular, the lawyers mentioned that it would take many years for him to exhaust his appeals and actually be executed.

     Original series finale 
  • The original series finale ended...oddly, for a Law & Order episode. A normal episode would have cut to the credits at having Anita's phone ring. I'm not necessarily upset they didn't troll the viewers, it was simply strange in the context of how the show normally worked.
    • Probably along the lines of "People will never see any future exploits of these guys, so we might as well let people think they're well off."
    • We can also probably give the original finale a bit of slack in not being a 'normal' episode as well; since it's essentially closing off the entire show and by extension the entire story, it's not really a normal episode, and they probably didn't want to end proceedings on a cliffhanger note, at least with that storyline.
    • It was also S. Epatha Merkerson's final episode, regardless of the show's overall fate. They wanted to send her out on an unambiguous high note.

    Forgotten tape recorder 
  • "Right to Counsel" ends with the killer taking his own life. It looks as if he had a tape recorder by the bathtub, but they never reveal if it was or what he said in his suicide recording. Did he leave a recording behind?

    Fingerprint matching 
  • The franchise as a whole is incredibly inconsistent as to fingerprint matching and how many points of similarity it takes to establish a conclusive match. They notably prosecuted a fingerprint examiner after it was discovered she was testifying to false matches and using an extremely low scale to establish matches- six points. However, several episodes after this one use six as a conclusive number, and at least one episode of SVU used 3 as a conclusive. Granted, I'm not sure when the SVU episode aired in relation to the one with the crooked examiner, but still.
    • In the episode where they prosecuted the examiner, the issue wasn't that she used a low number of points (although that was mentioned), it was that she had testified that there was a match when there wasn't really, and two innocent men ended up in prison as a result. The cops didn't care about the low number of points before that; one of them even explicitly says he doesn't understand how matches work. As for the other episodes, it's often just a ploy to get suspects to confess by thinking their goose is already cooked - that features in nearly all episodes.

    End of "American Jihad" 
  • What happened at the end of "American Jihad"? I just happened to catch the episode on TV, and the ending is weird. Basically a radical Muslim kills someone, supposedly out of religious fanaticism. However, it turns out he was a convert and had problems with women. At the end, he says something like "You just laughed," but it isn't explained what she laughed at (obviously at him). Was their something dysfunctional about his genitals? I guess that's what's implied, but it's all really ambiguous, and nothing is ever directly stated or really even implied that there's something wrong with his junk besides that one, single line at the very end of the episode. Does anyone know specifics? did I miss something?
    • I thought it was pretty clearly implied that he had trouble either getting or maintaining an erection.
    • This troper thought it tied into why he killed the professor in the first place. "We could have been together if she hadn't turned you again me!" The context seemed to be "I told you how I felt about you and YOU LAUGHED!" It didn't seem sexual in nature, but it is ambiguous.
    • Whether the girl laughed at him because he expressed his interest in her or because she saw him undressed and was seriously unimpressed, the point was that the Islamic faith was not to blame for his becoming a murderer. It was his own pre-existing, deep-seated hatred of women that led him to kill and he was abusing Islam as a means of justifying acting on it.

    Jack McCoy becoming the DA 
  • How exactly did Jack McCoy end up as Manhattan DA, and how did he manage to retain the job, even through an election? Consider: he's been known to have sexual relationships with several of his subordinates, which can at best be considered improper. He's twisted, and nearly broken, the law on several occasions in order to get a conviction (including conspiring with a judge, and blackmailing a witness). He's stepped on the toes of many from the city, county, state, and federal governments. He's frequently used his office to engage in personal vendettas outside of his normal duties. And he's gotten on the bad side of many big businesses and rich & powerful people (including the Mulroneys, the Law & Order equivalent of the Kennedys). With all this in mind, it's surprising McCoy managed to remain as Executive ADA, much less get a promotion.
    • In Doylist terms, it's so that they could keep around one of the most popular and long-lasting characters on the show as long as the actor was still willing to play him. In Watsonian terms... well, it's definitely very unlikely and probably wouldn't be very easy for him to win an election, but McCoy was good at his job and could be very convincing (as you'd expect a lawyer to be), and he became DA around about a time where big business and very rich people weren't incredibly popular due to the financial crash, meaning that the voters might have been willing to vote for someone seen as a bit of an iconoclast and relatively anti-establishment figure. Less likely figures have won elections. It also doesn't hurt that he initially became DA as an interim (probably because the person who appointed him decided he was the most qualified person at the time) and the one time we saw him contest an election his opponent ended up being kneecapped by a big scandal, making him look like the better option for the voters by default. All the money and powerful backers in the world won't save an obviously doomed candidate.
    • If anything, his Cowboy District Attorney practices would endear him to a lot of people, sort of like Harvey Dent, someone not afraid to confront criminals as part of the Giuliani-era New York. It's not necessarily what he does so much as what the people see him do. He has a high number of convictions and makes some truly good cases, so its not inconceivable that, personal issues aside, he could be popular enough to stay on as long as he did.
    • The voters might have also been in the mood for an "outsider" figure, someone not seen to be as part of the establishment system. As we saw in 2016, the candidate with the backing of the political establishment, the wealthy, and the big-business community isn't always the candidate that's guaranteed to win the election, and for all his flaws McCoy certainly has more to recommend him on his side than You-Know-Who did.
    • As for his personal relationships, it's not like Jack ever hid them or that there was ever anything salacious or unethical about them implied; as he himself once said, he just found some of his coworkers more intellectually and more emotionally stimulating than the women he met at the gym. Sure, I've no doubt any of his opponents might have tried to make some hay out of his past, but I assume that Jack would done what he did when Claire confronted him about them that time — simply told the truth that those relationships were entirely above board, consensual, and nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, the voters would probably have appreciated his honesty and frankness. An unmarried man dating his assistant(s) might not be the most proper thing to ever occur, but neither is it the worst sexual indiscretion ever performed by a politician (and to link to the point above, a recent US President was elected in spite of video footage of him all but admitting to acts that are at very least sexual harassment, if not outright sexual assault; consensual relationships with assistants are nothing compared to that).

     Amanda's alive! So... where is she? 
  • "Filtered Life" revolves around a social media star by the name of Amanda, who does live-stream blogging, lives in a van, and talks to her mother every morning. One day, she disappears, and the police eventually find a guy was stalking her after they met via a dating app. The police pick him up and even decide to indict him, but they can't decisively prove that Amanda is even dead. Then, when the trial is just getting started, Amanda's Twitter gets updated to show she's relaxing in Cancun. Price immediately decides it's fake, but at no point does the show attempt to find out who posted itto begin with, even though real-life Twitter can indeed do that. And even if she is alive, no one even attempts to have her brought back to the US to prove her health nor is it ever brought up that this supposedly-alive girl hasn't called her parents to tell her she's fine. What was even the point of introducing that subplot if nothing was going to be done with it?