"Red Ball"
L&O, Episode 16.01
Production number: 16001
First aired: 21 September 2005
  th of 456 produced in L&O  
th of 456 released in L&O
  th of 1229 released in all  
Written By
David Wilcox

Directed By
Matthew Penn


Jenny Clark, the five-year-old daughter of Jimmy and Denise, is kidnapped when her mother's car is hijacked. The police capture the kidnapper, Dwight Jacobs, but he demands his freedom in exchange for the location of the girl. After exhausting all leads, McCoy reluctantly makes the deal behind Arthur Branch's back, and Jacobs reveals the girl's location. Fontana and Green rescue her unharmed. At sentencing, after a conversation with Branch, the judge throws out the deal and imposes the maximum sentence for the kidnapping. As a result, Jacobs changes his plea to not guilty and is remanded back to custody pending trial. Branch confronts an unrepentant McCoy for his actions telling him he's a great prosecutor but will never be a District Attorney.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast



Officer: Over there. I thought you were ridin' the desk.
Green: I'm done with that.

Jimmy: I didn't do nothin'!
Green: You run pretty fast for somebody who didn't do nothing. 2:00 today, where were you?

Hellstrom: Mr. Jacobs, please rise. Mr . Jacobs, this negotiated arrangement with the People is something I find contrary to the interests of justice. A child taken by you against her will, returned by you to her lawful custodian in exchange for your freedom is an agreement against public policy. Therefore, I find that mandating enforcement of an agreement reached under these circumstances would be a perversion, not a fulfillment, of jurisprudence. I will not honor it. Your sentence is my discretion, Mr. Jacobs. I'm imposing the maximum time allowed by law.
Bell: Your honor, my client withdraws his guilty plea.
Hellstorm: That's certainly his right. He wants a trial, we'll conference tomorrow afternoon to set a date.
Jacobs: What are you talkin' about? We had a deal! You can't do this.
Hellstrom: You had no deal with me, Mr. Jacobs.
Jacobs: What? No. No. No. No. We had a deal! We had a deal, you son of a bitch!
Hellstrom: That's enough!
Jacobs: We had a deal, you son of a bitch!
Hellstrom: Officers, remove the defendant from the courtroom.
Jacobs: You made a deal, son of a bitch! Son of a bitch! We had a deal! WE HAD A DEAL!

McCoy: I think your concern was politics, not office integrity. If you wanna fire me, Arthur, go ahead. I'm not going to apologize for what I did.
Branch: Well, then, you just don't get it, Jack. You know, you're a great prosecutor, but you'll never be a District Attorney.

Background information and notes

  • At the end of the episode, Branch remarks that while McCoy is a good prosecutor, he may never be a District Attorney. Ironically, after actor Fred Thompson leaves the series to run for the U.S. Presidency in season 18, McCoy becomes the new District Attorney.
  • The term "red ball" comes from the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street. It was used to indicate a top-priority case, typically connected to the kind of media coverage it generated.
  • This episode marks the beginning of S. Epatha Merkerson's thirteenth consecutive season as Lt. Anita Van Buren, making her the longest running character in the show's history. Jerry Orbach's Lennie Briscoe appeared for twelve years. The longest-running original cast member was Chris Noth as Mike Logan, from 1990 through 1995.
  • This is the first episode with Jesse L. Martin after his hiatus to film Rent.

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Home of Agatha Jacobs
Greenpoint, Queens
Wednesday, September 18
1:08 a.m.

Supreme Court
Wednesday, September 18
10:43 a.m.

Office of
Executive Assistant
D.A. Jack McCoy
Wednesday, September 18
1:24 p.m.

4 5 6

Home of Denise Clark
15 Orchard Street
Wednesday, September 18
5:00 p.m.

27th Precinct
Wednesday, September 18
8:36 p.m.

Supreme Court
Motion Hearing
Thursday, September 19
9:09 a.m.

7 8 9

495 Motel
Hunters Point, Queens
Thursday, September 19
11:34 a.m.

Supreme Court
Thursday, September 19
5:14 p.m.

Supreme Court
Trial Part 22
Thursday, September 19
7:20 p.m.

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