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"Savages"
Law & Order episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 3
Written by Morgan Gendal
Barry M. Schkolmick
Michael S. Chernuchin
Directed by Jace Alexander
Original airdate October 18, 1995 (1995-10-18)
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Rebels" "Jeopardy"
List of Law & Order episodes (season 6)

"Savages" is the 114th episode of NBC's legal drama Law & Order, and the third episode of sixth season. This episode explores the issue of capital punishment, which had been recently reintroduced in the state of New York by then-governor George Pataki.

Plot

Detectives Lenny Briscoe and Rey Curtis investigate a man found shot to death in a warehouse full of what appear to be stolen goods. The dead man turns out to be a an undercover police officer investigating a drug dealer.

The investigation leads to Paul Sandig, a wealthy certified public accountant (Victor Garber). The detectives determine that Sandig murdered the officer in order to cover up a money laundering operation set up to conceal the profits of the drug dealer.

Jack McCoy and Claire Kincaid argue the case for and against seeking the death penalty to district attorney Adam Schiff. As in reality, the fictional New York had just enacted a death penalty statute and Schiff must decide whether or not to pursue the first death penalty case in the state. Schiff determines that the death penalty is warranted and opts to pursue it.

McCoy wins a guilty verdict, but must fight the constitutionality of the statute in the appellate division with defense attorney Helen Brolin (Maria Tucci) before sentencing. The constitutionality arguments center around due process and the meaning of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The appelate division renders no decision, declaring the issue is not ripe because no one has yet been sentenced to death, and remands the case for sentencing.

At sentencing, Sandig breaks down on the stand under questioning and begs for his life, but is nevertheless sentenced to death by lethal injection.

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