"In God We Trust"
L&O, Episode 15.23
Production number: E5326
First aired: 11 May 2005
  th of 456 produced in L&O  
th of 456 released in L&O
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Hannah Wilder
Written By
Richard Sweren

Directed By
David Platt


An arson fire occurs in an apartment, and a firefighter is forced to jump out and he dies. Detectives Joe Fontana and Nick Falco arrive. Since the fire was so powerful the firefighter had to jump out and died, it means the arsonist is responsible for the death, making it murder.

At the 27th Precinct, Joe and Nick's boss Lt. Anita Van Buren and a CSU tech tells them there was an accelerant used. Van Buren tells his men that they need to go talk with the residents since the top floor was obviously the target.

They speak with one man who says he saw someone banging and yelling at another tenant's door. That tenant is a woman who refuses to tell them anything. Joe and Nick subsequently talk to the woman's daughter, who reveals her father hates her mother.

Joe and Nick go into the father's apartment, where they find a bus driver's jacket with gas all over it. They find and arrest him at a girlfriend's house. He soon admits that he set the place on fire to kill his wife, but never intended to kill his daughter or the fireman. His motivation for the arson was that his wife wouldn't let him see his daughter.

Joe and Nick charge him with felony murder, but then the M.E. tells them the fireman didn't die from the jump: he died from a gunshot wound to the leg.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


Justin Lennard; Sean Grafton; Ladder 72; Pratt Institute; Mallon Hotel; 7 April, 1996; Wizard Video; P.S. 322; Calvary Hill Foundation


  • Alex Borgia: I'm curious, what would have been your offer?
  • Jack McCoy: Man 1. 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.

Background information and notes

  • 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 woman who was in a persistent vegetative state and there was a court battle between her husband (who wanted her feeding tube removed) and her family (who wanted her to be kept alive). Law and Order would later 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.
  • Goof: Michael Louis Wells is credited as "Matthew Clemens" in all previous episodes save one, but in this episode his first name is given as "Kevin" by ADA Alexandra Borgia.

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Mallon Hotel
Coffee Shop
605 Ninth Avenue
Thursday, April 1

P.S. 322
361 West 43rd Street
Friday, April 2

Home of
Jenna Tarantino
Astoria, Queens
Monday, April 5

4 5 6

Broadway & 108th Street
Tuesday, April 6

Apartment of
Bruce Elwin
369 West 49th Street
Tuesday, April 6

Arraignment Court
Part 21
Wednesday, April 7

7 8 9 10

Supreme Court
Allocution Hearing
Friday, April 16

Westside Family Center
556 West 58th Street
Wednesday, April 21

Supreme Court
Motion Hearing
Wednesday, May 12

Supreme Court
Motion Hearing
Thursday, May 13

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"Sport of Kings"
"In God We Trust"
Law & Order
Season 15
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