"House of Cards"
L&O, Episode 16.07
Production number: 16008
First aired: 9 November 2005
  th of 456 produced in L&O  
th of 456 released in L&O
  th of 1229 released in all  
Written By
Wendy Battles

Directed By
Michael Pressman


Fontana and Green investigate when the body of a young mother who had recently cleaned her life up is found in her apartment, with her five-day-old infant son Nicholas missing. Detectives soon track down Arlene Tarrington and ascertain that the infant she is claiming is hers is really baby Nicholas, but after her lawyers make a claim of post-partum psychosis and another man comes forward claiming to be the child's father, McCoy and Borgia are forced to decide which of the two they would rather lock up for the crime. Eventually, they learn the man really was the child's father and had sold the baby to Arlene. McCoy strikes a deal with Arlene to testify against the man in exchange for 15 years on a kidnapping charge rather than murder, but the defense is able to make it look like Arlene was the killer and the man get off. Shortly afterwards, its discovered that the man who had believed Nicholas to be his fled town with the baby as he knew the father would try to get custody and then sell the baby again. Though the police have good leads on where to chase him down, a sympathetic Branch orders McCoy and Borgia to tell the police to "take the weekend off and start fresh on Monday", thus giving the man a chance to get away since they can't help him legally.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


  • Andrea Yates
  • Nicky Haggerty
  • Texas


Alexandra Borgia: I had a friend who lost twins in her seventh month. She didn't leave her apartment for weeks. I don't know if she was depressed or crazy or what, but I think it's safe to say she wasn't thinking straight for a long time.
Arthur Branch: But your friend didn't kill anybody, did she?

Mr. Terrington: I am Arlene's best and closest friend.
Alexandra Borgia: Mr. Terrington, you didn't even know that she'd miscarried.

(After Dr. Olivet's ambiguous description of the defendant's state of mind)
Jack McCoy: Thanks for nothing, Liz.
Dr. Elizabeth Olivet: It's a subjective science, Jack!

Carolyn Walters: Post-partum psychosis. Makes post-partum depression look like a day at the beach.

Alexandra Borgia: Her neighbor says they were near divorce, until Arlene got pregnant. It's kind of sad, don't you think?
Jack McCoy: This woman did a murder-kidnapping. Breaks my heart.

Landlord: (about an abandoned apartment) This is what God invented security deposits for.

Background information and notes

  • This episode appears to be ripped from the headlines of the Bobbi Jo Stinnett case. Stinnett was pregnant when she was murdered by a woman named Lisa Montgomery who cut the baby out of her body. Like Arlene, the killer had been pretending to be pregnant for months. In another high-profile case, a woman named Sarah Brady killed an attacker who was trying to stab her and steal her fetus; again, her attacker had falsely claimed to be pregnant.

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Residence of Vincent Keys
250 West 107th Street
Wednesday, September 29

Flair Dry Cleaners
1378 First Avenue
Thursday, September 30

St. Catherine's Park
360 East 68th Street7
Thursday, September 30

4 5 6

Home of Arlene &
Stuart Terrington
255 East 68th Street
Thursday, September 30

Chambers of
Judge Michael Schneider
Tuesday, October 5

Susan B's Cafe
67 Worth Street
Tuesday, October 13

7 8 9 10

Supreme Court
Trial Part 77
Tuesday, November 9

Apartment of
Frank Stoll
Maspeth, Queens
Wednesday, November 10

District Attorney's
Conference Room
Friday, November 12

Supreme Court
Trial Part 27
Tuesday, December 7

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Law & Order
Season 16
Next episode:
"New York Minute"
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