Law and Order
Law and Order
Sonya Paxton
Sonya paxton.png
Name Sonya Paxton
Title Assistant District Attorney (2010-2011)
Interim Assistant District Attorney (2009)
Executive Assistant District Attorney (former)
Affiliation Manhattan District Attorney's Office
Division Sex Crimes Bureau (2009-2011)
Appeals Bureau
Homicide Bureau
Occupation Attorney
Status Deceased
Actor Christine Lahti
First Appearance "Unstable"
Last Appearance "Pursuit"

Sonya Paxton was an Executive Assistant District Attorney who worked for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office under Jack McCoy.


She was assigned to work with the Special Victims Unit while their usual ADA Alexandra Cabot was sent to Albany to train as an appeals executive assistant district attorney. She made no attempts to hide her dislike of the methods and personnel of the SVU, especially Elliot Stabler. He viewed her as scared and hungry for power. She was also cynical, immediately assuming a suspect was guilty.

While prosecuting the trial of Dalton Rindell, she accidentally played a created videotape, which depicted Rindell engaging in the crime. The tape had already not been allowed as evidence (although Defense attorney Roger Kressler believed this to be deliberate). Her intention was to play a video with faceless computer characters in order to show how the crime was committed, but playing the wrong tape put her case at risk. Later, Rindell would have all charges dismissed due to this action.

Paxton then went to a restaurant and began drinking, even while attempting to prepare Stabler and Olivia Benson for their testimony the next day. Both of them refused to do so while she was drinking and left. The next day, Paxton showed up to court late and appearing to be intoxicated. On the order of Judge Barry Moredock, Benson performed a breathalyzer test, which indicated a BAC of .082. Paxton then was removed from the courtroom by Benson and ordered to undergo rehabilitation for alcoholism, which she had previously put down as not being a disease during the Rindell case. Seeing what happened to Paxton provided a shocking wake-up call for Rindell, who, although he could not be charged again, confessed to Benson and showed deep remorse for his actions, which would leave him branded a killer for the rest of his life. Paxton later returned to the precinct before heading off to court-ordered rehab to apologize for her behavior. (SVU: "Hammered")

After her time in rehab, Paxton comes back, but Stabler doesn't let her live down her past mistake. Even then, Paxton continues to pursue the case she has been assigned to. She remains nonplussed, until Judge Sylvia Quinn is dismissed from the case due to possible bias, and Judge Marcus Ridiger is asked to try the case. Paxton requests a new judge, to no avail. During the trial, she is asked to approach the bench, but trips on the table, causing Ridiger to question her sobriety. She denies being intoxicated and asks for a recess, as her key witness is not showing up. After the witness is found dead, Paxton wins the case. (SVU: "Gray")

Paxton eventually gets involved in a cold case: the 1986 murder of Vanessa Harding, sister of television journalist Alicia Harding (Debra Messing), which Paxton first worked on as a young ADA. When someone begins stalking Alicia and sending her death threats, Paxton is convinced that Vanessa's killer has resurfaced. Paxton gets very involved in the case, to the point that she is suspected of handing confidential information to Alicia. The stress of the case tempts her to start drinking again, so she goes to an AA meeting, where she is ambushed by the killer, Adam Grafton. Paxton fights back and bites Grafton, getting usable DNA to identify him. She is discovered barely alive by Benson and Fin. With her last words, Paxton tells Benson that she got him before dying in Benson's arms. Grafton later confesses to Paxton's murder and claims it was because Alicia told lies about him and had to pay for it. (SVU: "Pursuit")

Prosecutions handled[]