|First Appearance||True Believers|
Bayard Ellis is a defense attorney in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In the episode True Believers he represents an African American teenager accused in the rape of a young girl. He claims that the girl had a prejudice towards him after having sex with an African American bartender the night before. He wins the case and although he didn't earn brownie points with Detective Olivia Benson and because they were considered enemies, he justified all of his actions, saying that being a defense attorney requires him to defend his client in any way he can and was still friendly to Benson; even inviting her to watch his daughter's softball game.
He next appears in the episode Spiraling Down, where he comes to defend a famous football player named Jake Stanton accused of being a John to a pimp at Benson's insistence. Using the defense that Stanton was mentally ill as he suffered from a form a dementia that can only be diagnosed after death, Ellis rigorously defends his client, but is forced to press him to the point of depression. He is successful, but Stanton commits suicide by shooting himself in the chest when his dementia came to light. In a deleted scene, Benson comes later to tell him that Stanton indeed had the form of dementia, but he points out that Stanton shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain thus proving that he knew what he was doing. Ellis regrets the fact that he had to press him at the trial, but Benson assures him that if Ellis hadn't done so, Stanton would have gone to jail where he wouldn't last a month.
He later represents Benson's brother, Simon, in both a criminal action and a child custody case. Simon was arrested for marijuana possession, and he and his black girlfriend lost custody of their children as a result. Ellis had the arrest thrown out as it was based on racial profiling, but was unable to get the couple custody of their kids. Ellis was going to appeal the ruling on the grounds that the judge typically displayed racial bias. But Simon took things into his own hands by kidnapping his children, forcing Ellis to seek another case to challenge the judge. Inevitably, the results were Simon would not regain custody of his children for a few years.
Ellis is calm, smooth, and can be charming and charismatic. He is very passionate when it comes to racial profiling, bias, or predjudice, and is devoted to equal rights amongst the people. He is not afraid to speak his mind and enjoys a good round about debate, especially with Munch and Benson.
While he is famous for defending African Americans, Ellis will stand up for every persons rights and will put his foot down if there is the slightest hint of racial injustice.
Ellis believes in both the letter and spirit of the law. But he also believes those who work together should not be together. A danger of "Conflict of interest" being called into court. Though they are friendly enemies, Ellis cares for Olivia and would hate to see her jeopardize her position. He displays this concern when he learns Olvia is dating Executive Assistant District Attorney David Haden, and encourages that they end their relationship.
Ellis is aware he can be harsh. But if its to preserve the law he so passionately believes in, he'll do whatever it takes to ensure others value it just as he does.
- Michael Wedmore (SVU: True Believers)
- Jake Stanton (SVU: Spiraling Down)
- Simon Marsden & Tracy Harrison (SVU: Child's Welfare)
- Omar Pena (SVU: Justice Denied)
- Reggie Rhodes (SVU: Monster's Legacy)
- When Sgt. John Munch comes into the squad room Ellis asks "Have we met?" Ellis is played by Andre Braugher and has worked with Richard Belzer before on Homicide: Life on the Street. As Frank Pembleton (Munch's character started on Homicide Life on the Street and crossed over to Law and Order).