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Poison (SVU)

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"Poison"
SVU, Episode 5.24
Production number: E4428
First aired: 11 May 2004
  th of 295 produced in SVU  
th of 295 released in SVU
  th of 1021 released in all  
Oliver Taft
Written By
Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters

Directed By
David Platt


Novak tries to get a biased judge off the bench.

Plot Edit

Summary Edit

When 4-year-old Alexis Campbell, is taken to the hospital after collapsing in her home, it soon discovered that the girl had ingested a huge amount of detergent and her mother, Karen Campbell is responsible for poisoning her after Alexis' sister, Katie says that her mother forced Alexis to drink the detergent. After Karen is put on trial, she is soon acquitted by Judge Oliver Taft.

Novak believes that Taft acquitted Karen based on his own personal class bias and discovers that his bias in another case lead to the wrongful conviction of a woman, Rosalin Silvo, a single mother of two who was accused of poisoning her baby daughter with antifreeze. Evidence had been presented that her daughter likely died of a very rare genetic disorder called MMA and they weren't even able to perform a test on it. Ten years ago a test could've easily missed it but a test today would definitely detect it so Novak gets permission from the mother to exhume the body and Warner's test proves that the girl definitely had it. Warner also determines that she didn't die of it and that it doesn't explain the crystals found in her brain, but believes that the drugs used to treat antifreeze poisioning, which would've been the right drugs to use if it had been antifreeze poisioning but the wrong thing to use for MMA, caused the crystals to form and thus her death. Novak brings this new evidence to Judge Mary Clark who had previously refused to believe her about Taft and Clark herself takes up the role of Rosalin's defense attorney in a joint motion with Novak to vacate her conviction, prepared for her by Novak. After learning that the prosecution agrees with the motion and reviewing the evidence, another judge throws the conviction out and Rosalin is finally set free after losing ten years of her life. Shortly thereafter, Novak receives a call stating that Karen Campbell has succeeded in murdering Alexis by smothering her after having her released from the hospital against medical advice. At the station, Karen claims that she smothered Alexis to death because Judge Taft told her to kill Alexis during a brief exchange at the courthouse during her original trial.

Judge Taft is soon arrested and charged, but soon after the charges are immediately dismissed because as a sitting judge, Taft has judicial immunity. Novak goes after Taft when he testifies during Karen Campbell's murder trial. In the end, Karen is found guilty of killing Alexis and Judge Taft's career is severely damaged, and although he remains on the bench, he is reassigned to civil court and his decisions will be looked at closely to determine whether or not he made biased decisions on other cases.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit

A similar story was depicted in a made-for-TV movie: "Without A Kiss Goodbye" starring Lisa Hartman-Black, Chris Meloni, Cloris Leachman and David Ogden Stiers. This was based on the true story of a young mother of two boys who both developed the rare genetic disorder Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA). One of her sons died from poly-glycol poisoning, and as a result she was convicted of murder. Her conviction was overturned after research probed deeper into MMA.

Said outcome was similar to the case of Rosalin Silvo, cleared of murder after spending ten years in prison for a crime she never committed, and the injustice she suffered at the hands of Judge Oliver Taft, who ignored all evidence pertaining to MMA.

Quotes Edit

Casey Novak: (outside the courthouse after Karen Campbell is acquitted by Judge Oliver Taft of the attempted murder of her adopted daughter) I'm sorry.

Elliot Stabler: Don't be. Look, I know you went to the mat on this one. Sometimes, it just doesn't work out.

Casey Novak: I want Taft off the bench.

Elliot Stabler: And I want a '65 Stingray. (turns to leave)

Casey Novak: No, I'm serious. I'm going after him.

Elliot Stabler: (turns back) Casey, it's not worth it. Look, what good does it do anybody for you to kill your career?

Casey Novak: If this is justice, I don't want this career.


(Novak has shown evidence that Judge Taft falsely convicted and sentenced Rosalin Silvo for ten years)

Judge Mary Clark: (referring to Taft) That son of a bitch.

Casey Novak: Seems to be the preferred way to describe this guy.


(after Rosalin Silvo's conviction overturn and a small verbal scuff with Judge Taft)

Judge Mary Clark: Well, almost makes me miss all this.

Casey Novak: I don't know. I think you'd miss your expense account more.


Donald Cragen: (after Karen Campbell claims that Judge Taft told her to kill Alexis) Did I hear her right? That nutcase thinks the judge told her to murder her daughter.

Olivia Benson: Or she thinks it's a good way to get off a murder charge.

Elliot Stabler: What the hell was Taft doing, talking to a defendant alone during a trial anyway?

Casey Novak: Hanging himself. We got the bastard now.

Olivia Benson: Doesn't that nullify her acquittal?

Casey Novak: Sure does, not that it matters. We got her on homicide.


(Judge Taft is hosting a black-and-white tie event when Benson and Stabler arrive to arrest him)

Judge Oliver Taft: Detectives, if you wanted an invite, all you had to do was ask.

Elliot Stabler: (grabbing an appetizer from a passing tray) Well, we thought we'd class the place up a bit.


Judge Oliver Taft: This is absurd.

Elliot Stabler: Your Honor, you know the law says we can't arrest you in your own home, so, if you want we could make a big scene.

Judge Oliver Taft: You all are going to be very sorry for this.

Elliot Stabler: And you're gonna look so pretty for your mug shot.



Judge Mary Clark: (to Casey Novak after the charges against Taft are dismissed) Well, I'll say this for you, you've got balls.

Background information and notes Edit

Trivia Edit

In reality, Taft's trial would have not been dismissed so quickly because judicial immunity does not protect sitting judges from facing any criminal charges. It only protects them from facing civil suits for any acts of liability they performed pursuant to their judicial function.

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3 4 5

Special Victims Unit
Children's Interview Room
Tuesday, March 9

Hudy Hearing
Part 33
Thursday, March 11

Trial Part 33
Monday, April 19

Trial Part 33
Tuesday, April 20

Hudson University
Department of Genetics
Wednesday, April 21

6 7 8 9

Office of
The Medical Examiner
Friday, April 23

Motion Hearing
Part 22
Monday, April 26

Arraignment
Part 18
Tuesday, April 27

Trial Part 38
Monday, May 10


Previous episode:
"Bound"
"Poison"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 5
Next episode:
"Head"
Seasons 12345678910111213141516

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