"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."
Filmed entirely on location in New York, the realistic program looks at crime and justice from a dual perspective. In the first half-hour, Detective Cyrus Lupo and his new partner, Detective Kevin Bernard, investigate crimes and apprehend suspects under the supervision of their precinct lieutenant, Anita Van Buren. In the second half-hour, the focus shifts to the criminal courts as Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter and the Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa work within a complicated justice system to prosecute the accused under the guidance of the newly appointed District Attorney Jack McCoy.
An Iraqi immigrant who murders a former military policewoman in retaliation for torturing her brother at Abu Ghraib prison claims that she is covered as an enemy combatant under the terms of the Geneva Convention.
When a woman abandoned by her firefighter husband for his partner's widow is threatened with also losing custody of her children, she murders her romantic rival, claiming that 9/11 post-traumatic stress syndrome prompted her actions.
When a prison gang puts out a contract on a Sing Sing corrections officer and his family, assigning the job to a newly released ex-con, the terrified officer pleads preemptive self-defense after he's brought to trial for the parolee's murder. As the trial proceeds, the gang attempts to affect the outcome of the case by sending a death threat to the presiding judge, who refuses to be intimidated. Shortly after the conclusion of the trial, McCoy discovers that the defendant's fears about the power and the reach of the gang were well-placed.
McCoy goes after the C.E.O. of a pharmaceutical company who knowingly commissioned further clinical trials on a drug to extend its patent protection yielding millions of dollars of profit without disclosing that previous clinical studies had demonstrated that the drug created a high risk of suicide in its users.
After Green goes undercover to gather evidence on the gun dealers who murdered two detectives during a buy-and-bust, McCoy is able to connect the hit men to the attorney who paid them to avenge the death of his gun-running stepson at the hands of the same detectives during a similar buy-and-bust several years earlier.
When a plastic surgeon's greed and narcissism contribute to his failure to care for a patient that ultimately results in her death, Branch insists that McCoy prosecute him for criminally negligent homicide, rather than leave the matter to the civil courts, after an investigation reveals a several instances of the doctor's inattention to patient care.
The investigation into the death of a governor's wife uncovers a web of infidelity, greed, and corruption which forces McCoy to counter a defense based on a ground-breaking interpretation of spousal privilege.
The detectives are skeptical when a former street activist turned shock jock with a history of staging phony muggings to gain publicity for his causes appears to be the subject of an attempt on his life after publicly assailing a mobster, but they begin to believe his story after they discover that the married jock was involved with the mobster's mistress.
When the investigation into the contract killing of a jeweler uncovers his plan to roll over on his Russian mob connections to a federal prosecutor, as well as an unhappy wife whom he refused to divorce, McCoy must determine who financed the hit.
The prosecution of a drug trafficker responsible for a stash house massacre is hampered when McCoy discovers that the defendant claims diplomatic immunity, and has been working as an undercover operative aiding the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
When a paroled child murderer is run down, the investigation leads to a terrified social worker and an experimental prison therapy program.
The investigation into the murder of a wealthy husband leads to the uncovering of a conspiracy involving infidelity and greed and leads to one defendant attempting to evade justice by killing the other.
When a rap producer is found shot to death in his studio, detectives focus on his protege, whose demos link him and a friend to a second murder. As the investigation unfolds, Southerlyn's opinions put her sharply at odds with both McCoy and Branch.
Fontana and Green are baffled by a series of flu-related deaths until they discover that the victims were given fake vaccine. McCoy goes after the con man who distributed the vaccine for murder.
A conservative talk show host involved in a sexual harassment scandal is murdered, but the trail leads to the victim's wife and an obsessed stalker.
McCoy prosecutes a famous basketball star accused of murdering a man who was suing him because of a massive brawl between players and fans.
The investigation into a fatal traffic accident leads Fontana and Green to a slaughtered hunting party in the woods and an unknown man who may have been pursuing vigilante justice.
When a TV network executive is found murdered, Detectives Fontana and Green suspect a pair of twins who were stealing from the organization until they discover a celebrity chef with whom the married victim shared an affair. The nimble and charming chef is adroit at cultivating relationships with judges and juries alike, but prosecutor McCoy intends to reveal that the suspect's cooking show was about to be cancelled by his late lover.
Police and prosecutors go after a fanatical cult leader who encourages sex with children among her followers.
The bludgeoned corpse of a promiscuous lawyer is found in her office, and detectives treat her former lovers as suspects until DNA evidence points to a co-worker. (Skeleton (2) aired on Law & Order: Trial By Jury, season 1, episode 8.)
Fontana and his temporary partner, Det. Nick Falco, must tread lightly when they discover links between a powerful police commissioner and the murders of an infamous porn actress and a maverick publisher.
The shooting of a Panamanian jockey sends Fontana and Falco into the colorful world of horse racing, and they learn that the animal's owner used stolen funds for the purchase.
When Fontana and Falco investigate an arson which caused the death of a firefighter, they discover a murder weapon tied to a nine year old murder and a hate crime in which the defendent attempts to have his case dismissed because he became a born again Christian after committing the murder.
After a man causes a massive train crash that results in multiple deaths, McCoy tries to prosecute him for murder despite his insanity defense. But McCoy finds himself hampered by a defense attorney whose own agenda may undercut that of his client.