Detectives discover that a recently-murdered white woman had recently given birth to a baby whose race reveals a well-kept secret about the baby's biological father.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joshua Burdett
Frances Houston
Harry O'Reilly ...
Jerry O' Brien
Lou Liberatore ...
Harry Stokley
Franchelle Stewart Dorn ...
Ms. Joyner
Mike Hodge ...
Leonard Hillman
Keith Randolph Smith ...
Morris Keach


Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate the death of Karen Burdett who jumped - or was pushed - out of her apartment window. They initially suspect suicide but the crime scene unit confirms she was thrown off the balcony. Her husband Josh dismisses suicide at first but then confirms that she may have been depressed over giving up their three week old daughter for adoption. He says they gave her up because he didn't want children, but when the police learn the baby is African-American, they begin looking for her boyfriend. The fact is that Josh Burdett is actually African American but has passed as white all of his life. Even his first wife - to whom he was married for 19 years - denies ever knowing he was black. ADA's McCoy and Ross soon realize they're on the wrong track and prosecute the person they are sure is responsible. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

19 November 1997 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Adam Schiff's quote "Back then they had lynch mobs and bull-whips; now they use toilet plungers" likely refers to the beating and forced sodomy with a broom handle of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by Brooklyn NYPD officers. The case made national news that summer, a few months before this episode first aired. See more »


References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Explores what it's like to "pass"
10 March 2010 | by (Camilla, GA) – See all my reviews

Stephen Mendillo guests as a businessman carrying a major secret: though he appears to be Caucasian on the outside, he is actually African-American. When his wife is found murdered, he becomes the primary suspect, especially when their black child is found to have been adopted by another couple.

His ex-wife, well-played by Deborah Rush, claims to have no knowledge of her ex's ethnicity but it is later revealed that she is not as ignorant as she appears to be.

Besides featuring the trademark "Law and Order" surprise, this installment explores how some individuals had to hide their identity in order to "blend" into the-then-perceived "mainstream" society as well as makes a commentary on the internal prejudices that makes a bigot.

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