A teenage boy is suspected of starting a fire that killed his younger sister. But his powerful and influential grandfather does everything in his power to make the case go away.



(created by), (as Siobhan Byrne)


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Elaine Anderton Lawlor
Terry Lawlor
Stan Kaminsky
Michael O'Hare ...
Roy Lawlor
Judge Jane Simons
Sandra Lawlor


Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate a possible murder when a woman hears an answering machine message saying they're responsible for killing someone by the name of DeeDee. The first suspect the phone's owner, Stan Kaminski but the police realize the message may have been intended for Roy Lawlor. Two years ago, a drunken Lawlor fell asleep with a lit cigarette and set fire to his apartment killing his daughter Diane, aka DeeDee. They trace the incoming call to the home of Carl Anderton, Lawlor's former father-in-law. From the voice on the tape, they suspect Anderton's grandson 15 year-old Terry Lawlor - DeeDee's half-brother - to be responsible. Once the boy is arrested, the powerful and politically connected Anderton pulls out all of the stops to get the case dropped including threatening to withdraw his support from Adam Schiff who faces re election in a few months. DA McCoy consults Dr. Emil Skoda who thinks the boy may be bipolar but Terry's grandfather flatly refuses to let ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

10 December 1997 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


At the end, when Terry is confessing in court, he says he knew his stepsister would be at home at a specific time. But Deedee was his half sister not his stepsister. They shared the same dad. See more »


A.D.A. Jamie Ross: [referring to Carl Anderton] Last year he made a surprise takeover bid for Commonwealth Airlines. One week later, he withdrew the bid, and accused the FAA and the stockholders of conspiring against him. It's classic manic-depressive behavior.
D.A. Adam Schiff: Doesn't make sense. Runs a Fortune 500 company.
Executive A.D.A. Jack McCoy: So did Howard Hughes.
See more »


References Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

The Political Side
24 February 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This episode turned out to be the basis for several others involving Steven Hill and his re-election campaign. The Law And Order series would not have been real had they not dealt with the political side of the criminal justice business.

And this starts with one way out reporting of a crime that wasn't even classified as a crime when it started, just an accidental fire. I won't go through the details, they're far too complex, but eventually they lead to the home of a wealthy powerbroker in New York City played by Robert Vaughn. He and Steven Hill have a lot of history together long before Hill became the New York County District Attorney.

It's not Vaughn who set the fire that killed a little girl. It was his grandson Sam Huntington who killed his half sister. The investigation shows the young man is probably schizophrenic and an insanity plea is definitely warranted. Sam Waterston is ready to deal over that, but Vaughn is calling the shots and he's adamant against it. Vaughn's retained high price defense lawyer Bob Dishy who also has done a few Law And Order shows.

Of course Vaughn has his reasons and those reasons are for you to see the episode. But what comes out of this is a vendetta against his old friend Hill which takes the place in future shows of him financing a candidate against him.

Robert Vaughn gives a powerful portrayal of a rich man scorned in this one of the best Law And Order episodes.

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