Law and Order
SVU, Episode 3.19
Production number: E2331
First aired: 5 April 2002
  th of 502 produced in SVU  
th of 502 released in SVU
  th of 1271 released in all  
Donnelly Cabot Justice.jpg
Written By
Dawn DeNoon & Lisa Marie Petersen

Directed By
Juan José Campanella

The death of the stepdaughter of a prominent Judge becomes complicated when her relationships with several sex offenders are revealed.


A teen with no ID found beaten dies in ER. Benson & Stabler spend all day trying to identify the victim, who turns out to be the stepdaughter of a local judge. Further investigation reveals the victim to have become a mother four years ago, and be a pen pal of inmates sent to prison by her stepfather.


A girl is found almost beaten to death. She is rushed to the hospital, but dies a few minutes after going into surgery. Elliot finds the girl's jacket and a bottle of Percocet belonging to Emily Porter. They track down Mrs. Porter and her daughter confesses she sold the pills to a dealer in the park.

Fin busts the dealer and he tells Fin the dead girl bought the drugs and went to a motel nearby. The motel receptionist recognizes the girl, and says she met an older man at the reception, they argued and he dragged her into his room. Olivia and Elliot search the room, but the room hasn't been cleaned in a long time, so any fluids they find there are useless.

They find an expensive hat and it's exclusively made for one store. The store says the hat was shoplifted and even have the picture of the girl in their black book, but no name. The manager says they pressed charges and gives them the police officer's name. Stabler and Benson learn from the arresting officer that the girl is Patricia Stephens, the step-daughter of Judge Walt Thornburg.

The judge turns out to be an old friend of Captain Cragen and he decides to step in the investigation and notify the family. Judge Thornburg tells the Captain that Patricia was a troubled child ever since he married her mother and she was sent to a boarding school at age twelve, but was back at home for almost a year now.

The detectives consult with the nuns at her private school and they tell them she was rebellious and acted out by skipping school and cutting herself. Her only friend at the school tells them she had been pen-palling with convicts. ADA Cabot realizes all the convicts Patricia was corresponding with were sent to jail by Judge Thornburg.

Meanwhile, Benson and Stabler are notified that the judge has just been shot outside his house. They both go to the hospital and talk to his wife, she says she didn't see anyone, she just heard the shot. Benson asks her if she ever heard her daughter mention the name Thomas Gordon, one of the convicts she was writing to.

Fin and Elliot talk to Thomas's parole officer, his employer and co-workers. One of them says Thomas borrowed his van and didn't return it yet. Captain Cragen puts an APB on the van. Benson finds the van and a gun inside it and they take it to the lab to match it with the bullet from the judge. Stabler and Fin arrest Thomas and the lab matches his DNA to the one found in Patricia. The gun is also a match to the one in the judge.

Thomas tells them Patricia was the one that started to write to him, promising sex when he got out of prison. They met in the motel the day she was murdered, he says she was supposed to give him Percocet in exchange of a favor. She said she would have sex with him if he killed the judge. He claims she was alive and well when he left.

At Patrica's funeral, Benson and Stabler talk to Patricia's aunt and she tells them Patricia was never in boarding school, she was in a kid's correctional facility. Fin talks to the director and discovers Patricia was sent there when she was twelve years old to conceal a pregnancy. The detectives confront her mother and she says Patricia never told who the father of the baby was, she says Patricia told her she didn't know who the father was.

They investigate and find out that the judge's adopted son has the same birth date as Patricia's son. They suspect Patricia was sexually abused by the judge and the boy is his son. Cragen and Cabot question this accusation, stating that he is a judge known for inflicting punishments on pedophiles while Fin notes he could be a self-loathing pedophile. ADA Cabot gets a warrant to get the boy's DNA and run a paternity test. The test is done and it proves that Judge Thornburg had sex with Patricia and is the father of her son.

Captain Cragen talks to the judge and he still denies he killed Patricia. Stabler and Benson go to the lab and find a fingerprint in the bottle that killed Patricia. It turns out to be Trish's mother Brooke Thornburg's. They confront Brooke, and Brooke tearfully admits that she got into an argument with Trish after she saw Trish coming out of the hotel with Gordon. When Trish lashed out and told Brooke that Brian's father is Judge Thornburg, and not Gordon, a devastated Brooke lost it, and threw the bottle at Trish, and Trish fell down the stairs. Her death was unintentional.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


Tricia Stephens, Brian Thornburg


"So it's true?"
"Don't tell me this has already hit the court house grape vine?"
"This is huge!"
"Well, we're off to notify the parents before Channel 5 does."

- Alexandra Cabot, Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler

"They're seven ninety-five."
"Well, she managed to find the only affordable thing in here."
"That'd be seven hundred and ninety-five."
"Oh, well, that'll max out your credit card."

- Store Clerk, Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson

"Are you the mother of Emily Porter?"
"No, I am Emily Porter."

"Need I remind you that I am responsible for the integrity of this entire bureau?"
"A judge has used the power of the court to further his own agenda. If the light we shine on him isn't brighter than the light we shine on the public, then this bureau has no integrity."

- Elizabeth Donnelly and Alexandra Cabot

"Thornburg? One of the most respected jurists in the state?"
"Which doesn't mean squat to me if he raped an 11-year-old girl."

- Donald Cragen and Elliot Stabler

Background information and notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Little West 12th Street
New York City
Monday, April 1

Desk Appearance
Ticket Office
Manhattan Criminal Court
Monday, April 1

St. Monica's Academy
459 Amsterdam Avenue
Tuesday, April 2

4 5 6

Thornburg Residence
63 West 84th Street
Tuesday, April 2

New York City
Division of Parole
Tuesday, April 2

Eager Beavers Strip Club
22 East Houston Street
Tuesday, April 2

7 8 9

Monohan's Funeral Home
325 West 80th Street
Wednesday, April 3

Westchester Residential
Treatment Center
Wednesday, April 3

Office of Special Victims Unit
Bureau Chief
Elizabeth Donnelly
Wednesday, April 3

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