Law & Order

Season 15 Episode 23

In God We Trust

1
Aired Monday 10:00 PM May 11, 2005 on NBC
8.1
out of 10
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42 votes
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Episode Summary

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In God We Trust
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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. The defendant attempts to have his case dismissed because he became a born-again Christian after committing the murder.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A lawyer argues that a defendant accused of a hate crime shouldn't be punished, because he became a born again Christian afterward, being repentant, and that is the reason that we send people to jail (to instill repentance).moreless

    9.0
    Law and Order has been accused of being Christophobic, for they have shown Christians in a bad light so many times (which is true).



    However, does this particular episode show Christianity as bad?



    On one hand, a defense lawyer (in this series, that means Satan incarnate) is trying to use it to get her client off on a racist murder. Bad.



    On the other hand, it is what turned a vile racist into a good person, devoting his life to God and helping the poor, throwing away his six figure income for minimum wage. Good.



    One of the issues tackled in this episode is the purpose of prison. Is it to punish, or rehabilitate? If the former, then the defendant must do a bajillion years and a half. If the latter, then the defendant should walk, as he has already been rehabilitated.



    A subissue could be whether or not we should punish someone who could give so much to society. The defendant, besides being completely repentant, has given his life to the poor. If sent to jail, he cannot continue to help the poor. Should society's interest in this rehabilitated man's continued contributions to society be valued over justice for the victim? The issue was also explored in "Genius" (13x17).



    I think this episode is a fine addition to the series. If there is any flaw with this episode, it is that the cold case that was being investigated would have been solved pretty easily, within a couple days, of when it first occured. But then, how could the defendant have been a born again Christian if that happened? (In the story, it happened a week or so after the killing)



    9 out of 10.moreless
S. Epatha Merkerson

S. Epatha Merkerson

Lt. Anita Van Buren

Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Exec. A.D.A. Jack McCoy

Michael Imperioli

Michael Imperioli

Det. Nick Falco

Dennis Farina

Dennis Farina

Det. Joe Fontana

Annie Parisse

Annie Parisse

A.D.A. Alexandra Borgia

Fred Dalton Thompson

Fred Dalton Thompson

D.A. Arthur Branch

Jim Moody

Jim Moody

Reggie Lennard

Guest Star

Bobby Spillane

Bobby Spillane

John Gruner

Guest Star

Leslie Crocker Snyder

Leslie Crocker Snyder

Judge Logan

Guest Star

Leslie Hendrix

Leslie Hendrix

Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • (Cross-examining the defendant)
      Jack McCoy: So you believe you should be punished for the sin you committed?
      Bruce Elwin: It's not for me to say. All I can tell you is I let Jesus Christ in my heart and asked him for salvation.
      Jack McCoy: Did Jesus direct you to file a motion to dismiss the murder charge against you?

    • Alex Borgia: I'm curious, what would have been your offer?
      Jack McCoy: Manslaughter 2. Praise the Lord!

    • Alex Borgia: Forgiveness is a Christian ideal.
      Jack McCoy: And if you don't believe in Christ, well, then you'll just have to serve your time?

    • Alex Borgia: Judge Scalia wrote that our laws derive their authority from God. William O. Douglas wrote that we are a religious people whose institutions pre-suppose the existence of a Supreme Being.
      Jack McCoy: How does that translate to a free pass for murder?

    • Jack McCoy: I don't care if he comes to court with a hair shirt and a scourge, murder is murder.

    • Alexandra Borgia: There are more people in this country who believe in angels than in evolution.

    • Joe Fontana: (To a firefighter.) I take my hat off to you guys. Personally, I'd rather dodge bullets than run through a burning building.

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (3)

    • The defendant's landlord recalls when he "drank the Kool-Aid" and accepted religion shortly after committing murder. He refers to the 1978 mass murder-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, when 913 cult members drank a fruit punch laced with cyanide and force-fed the cyanide to babies and children at the request of their leader, Rev. Jim Jones.

    • Alexandra Borgia refers to the government intervening in the "Terri Schiavo situation." Terri Schiavo was the Florida woman who was in a persistent vegetative state. There was a court battle between her husband, who wanted her feeding tube removed, and her family, who wanted her to be kept alive. The controversy spurred the US Senate and House to fast track a law that allowed her parents to have standing in law suits regarding her care (S. 686 (109th): Terri Schiavo Incapacitated Protection bill). Law and Order would also reference this case in the episode "Age of Innocence".

    • Detective Fontana finds a DVD of Pretty Woman (starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere) in a suspect's apartment. Apparently, he's not a fan of this movie because he makes a comment about "chick flicks."

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