SVU, Episode 9.18
Production number: 9018
First aired: 6 May 2008
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
  th of 1229 released in all  
Benson Stabler Trade
Written By
Jonathan Greene

Directed By
Peter Leto


A wealthy, successful coffee trader and his son are both suspects in the murder of a young pregnant woman, when evidence suggests that the woman was sexually involved with both men--but the son's attorney proves eventually to have been the real villain.


The show begins with a brownstone fire and the discovery of a woman’s body – Jenna Ludlow – who also happens to be pregnant. The victim’s fiancé, P.J. Bartlett, comes under suspicion from detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson; as it happens, he is the son of the very successful and wealthy coffee broker Pierson David Bartlett Sr., his own full real name being Pierson David Bartlett Jr., with "P.J.," for "Pierson Junior," being his nickname. An affair with Jenna Ludlow and Pierson Bartlett is uncovered, putting both father and son in the cross hairs of prosecutor Casey Novak. Novak suggests that Pierson get an attorney of his own, since P.J.’s attorney, Avery Hemmings, should not represent both father and son. Pierson retains Trevor Langan.

Father and son go to trial, with Novak pulling out all the stops. She challenges Pierson about an email regarding the purchase of a coffee plantation, and that Jenna may have been using the email to blackmail them, thinking she would give away trade secrets. Casey also revealed $10,000 a month payments from Pierson to Jenna as evidence of blackmail. Pierson said the money had not been for blackmail, but instead for the baby that Jenna was carrying. Novak then gets the son, P.J., on the stand, and tells him that Dr. Melinda Warner, a pathologist with the New York County Medical Examiner's Office, had determined that his sperm is immotile, meaning that he is effectively “shooting blanks” with what she calls “funky sperm.” This means that he is reproductively sterile. Novak also reveals that Jenna was not pregnant at the time the blackmail had begun, a fact that seems to be a surprise to both defendants.

Hemmings chases down Novak, who basically declares the defense attorney incompetent, says the trial is over, the only question being how long the jury will be out, and slams the door in her face. But when the jury is asked for a verdict, nine days later, its foreman states that they have been “hopelessly deadlocked” for those nine days, and a mistrial is declared. The undeterred Novak vows to re-file immediately, spiting Hemmings's insistence that the verdict will not change. She also decides to check out what happened with the jurors, and finds that one juror was holding out for acquittal from the very first day of deliberation. The holdout proves to be the mother of a disabled child, who was also facing foreclosure of her home. Novak trades information from her in exchange for no jail time.

Novak finds that the juror was paid off by a private investigator, and Benson and Stabler find that the PI has fled the country and his files are being shredded. There are, however, files on the PI’s computer hard drive that show that he was tailing P.J. Bartlett. When confronted with the information, P.J. turns on his father, basically calling him an over-competitive control freak. P.J. believes this is partly what drove his father to have the affair with Jenna. The detectives obtain a search warrant for Pierson’s home and safe in an attempt to confirm he has possession of the actual surveillance photos, but are stopped when Hemmings arrives with an injunction voiding their warrant, saying they had violated P.J.’s right to counsel.

Somehow, Pierson Bartlett arrives at the SVU squad room before Benson and Stabler, who Fin informs that Pierson is rolling on his son. Stabler continues to watch a video with Jenna, and gets a miniscule glimpse, in the picture, of the lamp known to have been the murder weapon. Since he and Benson had not initially found a camera for that video, they go back to the burned apartment to try to find it, tearing apart mattresses and drawers and cabinets. Fortunately for them, they find a digital memory card in a can of what proves to be mill-run grocery coffee, download its contents, and soon afterwards find a camera in the wall that still has the video memory card in it.

Novak, Benson, and Stabler have a sit-down with Pierson, P.J., and Hemmings, telling them about the video and that it shows the murderer. Hemmings promptly tells them to turn it off, then storms out of the room. When father and son see that Hemmings has been the real villain all along, Pierson expresses concern that she could be getting away. Just then, an alarm can be heard going off, and Novak recognizes as the emergency stairs on the roof.

On the roof, to which she has been cornered, while she is standing on a roof ledge in her stiletto-heeled shoes, threatening suicide, Hemmings admits that she had also tampered with the juror and hired the PI. At times she seems to wobble precariously on the ledge, and at other times she seems quite steady. To make matters worse, P.J. finally gets his arms around Hemmings’s legs--but as none of the others rush to help him pull her back, she yanks the shocked and horror-stricken P.J. over the side with her, killing them both.

Stabler and Benson stare in horror at the two dead bodies on a car roof, while Bartlett Sr. cries in anguish over his now-dead son, who has been murdered by his own attorney in the course of her suicide.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast




Pierson Bartlett: Great body.
Olivia Benson: Excuse me?
Pierson Bartlett: The coffee. Though I'll bet yours is smooth and robust.

Pierson Bartlett: I didn't bribe anyone.
Casey Novak: Nooo...that fifty thousand dollar payment to juror number four was charity

Avery Hemmings: You're lucky your cheap stunt didn't kill my client.
Casey Novak: We didn't shove P.J. through that window, his father did.

I took a coffee-appreciation course at the Learning Annex, turned out it was just a bunch of barista wannabes.

–John Munch

Sorry, but cherubim don't have legal standing in this state.

–John Munch to the angel healer

Background information and notes

Background information and notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4

Commodities Exchange
249 Vesey Street
Monday, June 4

Crime Lab
One Police Plaza
Monday, June 4

Crime Lab
One Police Plaza
Wednesday, June 6

Apartment of
Jenna Ludlow
450 West 22nd Street
Wednesday, June 6

5 6 7 8

Trial Part 17
Monday, August 6

Trial Part 17
Wednesday, August 22

Apartment of
Debra Jackson
712 West 181st Street
Wednesday, August 22

Townhouse of
P.J. Bartlett
49 East 69th Street
Wednesday, August 22

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 9
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