Law & Order

Season 6 Episode 14

Custody

1
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Feb 21, 1996 on NBC
7.9
out of 10
User Rating
36 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Paul Robinette places the system on trial when he defends a young black woman accused of kidnapping her biological baby from his white, adoptive parents.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Former ADA Paul Robinette returns as a defense attorney who makes race an issue in the defense of a crack addict who kidnapped her child from adoptive parents.

    8.5
    In this episode, as always, L&O is not afraid to focus on a highly controversial issue and present some very thought-provoking concepts. This time, it's transracial adoption, when a black former crack addict kidnaps the son who was taken from her and placed with white adoptive parents. The only shortcoming of this episode is that the murder seems tacked on and more or less unrelated to the issue. It does feature a guest appearance by Richard Brooks, whom I think has a lot of charisma and was greatly underappreciated as ADA Paul Robinette.



    Most people do not understand why this is a controversial issue -- why shouldn't black children be placed in any suitable, loving home, even if it's white? For that very reason L&O deserves kudos for fairly presenting the main arguments against it. Black mothers are often discriminated against when held to higher standards than whites in order to keep their children; black adoptive parents are similarly held to stricter standards than whites in qualifying for placement. The typical measurement is affluence, so a well-off white family will always qualify ahead of a working-class black family. In addition, there is virtually no value placed on cultural training and racial awareness, which a white family is absolutely incapable of giving to a black child.



    There is the expected accusation of Robinette's "making race an issue", but in this case, race is in fact *the* issue, not a means of preying on white middle-class guilt.



    I am a transracial adoptee though not black; I wrote a doctoral paper on transracial adoption and there are studies, not just sentiments, that back up these claims. To the extent that these issues can be presented in a one-hour television format, L&O did a great job. As far as the L&O formula, however, it did get abandoned somewhat when the companion case (the murder itself) completely disappeared with no further explanation. It made some sense but it was unlike L&O to leave such a big loose end.moreless
Steven Hill

Steven Hill

D.A. Adam Schiff

Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach

Det. Lennie Briscoe

S. Epatha Merkerson

S. Epatha Merkerson

Lt. Anita Van Buren

Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Exec. A.D.A. Jack McCoy

Benjamin Bratt

Benjamin Bratt

Det. Reynaldo 'Rey' Curtis

Jill Hennessy

Jill Hennessy

A.D.A. Claire Kincaid

Amber Kain

Amber Kain

Jenny Mays

Guest Star

Scott Lawrence

Scott Lawrence

Michael Walters

Guest Star

Chuck Cooper

Chuck Cooper

Attorney for Michael Walters

Guest Star

Charlotte Colavin

Charlotte Colavin

Judge Lisa Pongracic

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Paul Robinette mentions that Ben Stone told him he needed to decide if he was a lawyer who was black or a black man who happened to be a lawyer. This refers to a conversation that Stone and Robinette had at the end of the first-season episode "Out of the Half-Light".

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Jack McCoy: Congratulations, Paul. You just bullied a judge.
      Paul Robinette: I'm a bully? I don't have 500 attorneys in my office or a 200 million dollar war chest, the power to investigate and arrest any citizen and a well armed police force to back it up. That's you, Jack. You're the biggest badass on the block.

    • Anita Van Buren: Virtual kids. Who would have thought?
      Lennie Briscoe: After virtual sex it was only a matter of time.

    • Paul Robinette: Ben Stone once said I would have to decide if I was a lawyer who was black or a black man who was a lawyer. All those years I thought I was the former. All those years I was wrong.

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

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