Law & Order: Season 4, Episode 19

Sanctuary (13 Apr. 1994)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 96 users  
Reviews: 1 user

A Jewish driver kills a black youth in a hit-and-run accident in Harlem and is not prosecuted. The black community's reaction ends in the death of a white motorist, but should the killer be held responsible for his actions?



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (scenes deleted)
Reverend Ott
Joshua Berger
Beatrice Winde ...
Corina Roberts
Damon Saleem ...
Daryl Johnson
Kevin Thigpen ...
Isaac Roberts
Mrs. De Santis


Detectives Briscoe and Logan investigate a hit and run accident that killed a young African-American boy. The case quickly takes on racial overtones when several witnesses identify the driver as a Jew. Before the detectives get too far into the case the driver, Joshua Berger, turns himself in insisting it was an accident. The traffic bureau confirms that, based on all of the evidence at the scene, Berger was not driving fast and did his best to try and avoid hitting the boy. Berger is not charged which outrages the black community and one of its leaders, Reverend Ott. It leads to a riot where a white man is pulled from his car and beaten to death in front of his wife. Using videotape the police the police identify the main assailant but he claims asylum in a local church. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

13 April 1994 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In 1997, TV Guide named this one of television's best individual series episodes of all time. See more »


Ben Stone: Sanctuary? What is this, medieval England?
A.D.A. Claire Kincaid: You really plan to argue this in front of a judge?
Shambala Green: And the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Ben Stone: So your client is going to stay in this church until your exercise in futility is completed?
Shambala Green: Considering the alternative, you bet. That is, of course, unless you'd like to save us all a lot of time and energy.
Ben Stone: Well, what does that mean?
Shambala Green: Man two, he serves the minimum.
Ben Stone: Your client savagely killed Mr. John De Santis ...
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User Reviews

One of the best
28 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I always thought this was the best episode ever made of Law and Order. Long before they went down the path of ending an episode neatly by having unrealistic confessions or discoveries, LAO made well-written, excellently acted episodes that made you actually surprised this was on television. Usually shows like this are left-leaning propaganda machines, and its ironic that Michael Moriarty would leave the show for just that reason, but this is an example of all sides of a volatile issue getting a fair look. No show since the airing of this one episode in 1994 has come close to depicting fair insight into the number one issue in the USA.

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