"Mad Dog"
L&O, Episode 7.18
Production number: K1116
First aired: 4 April 1997
  th of 456 produced in L&O  
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Written By
René Balcer

Directed By
Chris Misiano

McCoy comes dangerously close to abusing his prosecutorial authority, after a convicted serial rapist is released from prison after serving 18 years of a 30-year sentence.


McCoy testifies at the parole hearing of convicted serial rapist Lewis Darnell, and is dissatisfied after Darnell is released after serving 18 years of a 30-year sentence.

Darnell starts sharing an apartment with his daughter Janeane and his grandson. Janeane has steadfastly claimed that Darnell was always innocent of any crimes, and that he only confessed so he could be paroled. Then, a teenager named Teresa Perez is found raped and murdered in her own bedroom.

Briscoe and Curtis are called in because despite lack of evidence of rape, Teresa's mother says that Teresa never slept naked. The cops link Darnell to Teresa's building after they discover that he lived in the building next door as a child.

McCoy wants Darnell examined for scratches. Using suspected drug use as a ruse, they have him checked. Darnell has a few scratches, but even more interesting, he has no body hair so he won't leave any hair wherever he goes.

McCoy, sensing that Darnell is the killer, but short on evidence, sets out to find a legal loophole to ensure Darnell's return to prison. His persistence (from 24-hour surveillance to the use of Megan's Law) brings him dangerously close to abusing his prosecutorial authority.

McCoy even tries to have Darnell civilly committed to a mental institution, arguing that the fact that he is "incurable" renders him a danger to society.

McCoy's zeal leads to accusations of undue "strongarm" methods on the part of Briscoe and Curtis. He subpoenas everyone who has been near Darnell in the last six weeks and has posters put up in Darnell's neighborhood, infuriating Janeane, who refuses to believe that Darnell is a rapist.

As a result, Darnell loses his job and applies for change of residence, but he can't find anyplace that will take him. Darnell gets the ACLU involved and gets a restraining order. The judge later removes it, but warns McCoy to tread lightly.

However, the pressure gets to Darnell and he attacks a teenage neighbor. Janeane comes face to face with the truth about Darnell and is forced to kill her father in order to save her neighbor.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


Teresa Perez; Civil Commitment; Ohio; Kansas v. Hendricks; Bellevue Hospital Center


(on McCoy's attempts to have Lewis Darnell committed rather than jailed)

"It's legally brilliant! Sure to be a hit with the public. And you have no business trying it."
Adam Schiff
Lewis Darnell (to McCoy): You son of a bitch, you better step off! You leave me the hell alone!
McCoy: There's only three ways that's gonna happen, Mr. Darnell. Either you'll kill me, kill yourself or go back to prison.
Briscoe: Wrong M.O., no eyewitness and no murder weapon. This gets better all the time!

Background information and notes

  • This episode is based on the Megan Kanka case.
  • Constantine Makris won the 1997 Emmy for "Outstanding Cinematography for a Series" for his work in this episode.

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Law & Order
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