"Memo From The Dark Side"
L&O, Episode 20.01
Production number: 20001
First aired: 25 September 2009
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Written By
René Balcer & Keith Eisner

Directed By
Fred Berner


The body of a young war veteran is found in a parking garage and the murder is connected to a law professor who used to work for the Department of Justice.


Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast



This is no simple legal opinion, ladies and gentlemen. This is an instruction on how to commit a crime and avoid prosecution. A surgical parsing of words to draw hair-splitting distinctions between severe pain and extreme pain. The creation of a special class of prisoners who are fair game for any suffering we might subject them to. This is the legal grease that enabled the conspirators to commit acts that are immoral and illegal. Hanging prisoners by their wrists until their lungs collapse against their ribs. Waterboarding one detainee over 180 times. Now Mr. Franklin's defense is that he was just following orders as a mere lawyer in the Justice Department. Well, like all lawyers, he was employed as the last and best defense against injustice, to use the law as a shield to protect people. But instead he used it as a sword to injure them. Where he was sworn to uphold the Constitution, he used his legal education to subvert it, to shame it, and betray its promise to the world. Five days after 9-11, Vice President Cheney told us that we would have to "work the dark side" to fight terrorists. Well, we never imagined that to mean that we would cede control to our own dark side. The tactics used in Mr. Franklin's memo draw from the worst of our nature. Even in the midst of the Revolutionary War, in the midst of the Civil War, Presidents Washington and Lincoln admonished their troops not to injure their prisoners. Now, some of you may feel that it is not the place of this jury or even the people to question the actions of our government officials during a time of war. That the premise of this trial itself somehow is...treasonous. I would assure you, ladies and gentlemen, it is not disloyal to hold our officials to the highest standards of conduct. And it is not disloyal to allow you, the people, to decide what you want done in your name.

–Michael Cutter

Background information and notes

Background information & notes

Previous episode:
"The Drowned and the Saved"
"Memo From The Dark Side"
Law & Order
Season 20
Next episode:
"Just a Girl in the World"
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