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Samantha Copeland is the Corporation Counsel who was assigned the Kim Garnet case. Seeming to have a strong hate of domestic violence and is not willing "to watch another young woman be killed by that violence", Copeland wanted to catch whoever was abusing Kim, even if it meant using extreme or morally wrong methods about doing it. When Kim refused to name her abuser (quite obviously out of fear to the detectives), she has the girl arrested for distributing child pornography, which she is only willing to drop if Kim tells them the identity of her attacker (much to the unit's anger, especially Olivia).
However, Copeland's actions causes Kim to lose all trust the SVU had managed to gain from her and she refuses to cooperate. When she continues to remain silent in court, Judge Mardsen had her arrested again for contempt and placed in jail overnight. Fed up with Copeland's methods causing more harm than good, Olivia and Pond bring Kathleen Stabler to Kim's cell and the three gently convince her that as long as she hides the truth, she will never be safe. Thanks to their kindness, Kim finally opens up and tells the detectives that her boyfriend, Steve, was the one abusing her and who sent the pictures around to further silence her. Satisfied, Copeland was ready to drop the charges. But, Judge Marsden overruled her and still found Kim guilty of possession and distributing child pornography and sentenced her to the Wellsburg Facility for Juvenile Sex Offenders in Wellsburg, Ohio for a year-long imprisonment, completely stunning the woman.
Afterwards, Copeland is later approached by Benson and Kim's defense attorney, Miranda Pond. Due to Mardsen's quick sentencing without closing arguments from either party, the two sense judicial corruption and try to enlist her help. While clearly upset and guilt-ridden over Kim's situation, Copeland refuses, stating that her career would be jeopardized if she questioned Mardsen's methods. A furious Olivia instantly snaps, saying it was Copeland's actions and trumped up charges that got Kim convicted in the first place and firmly warns the woman that if any harm comes to the girl, the consequences will be on her head. An equally angry Pond also informs her that she is not only immediately filing for an appeal to vacate Kim's convictions and sentence, but is reporting Copeland to the bar for misconduct, harassment and intimidation of a witness (strongly implying that Copeland will be lucky if she has a career left to jeopardize). The two women then leave the even more distraught counsel behind.
Ironically, her reluctance to get further involved in the case would prove to be Marsden's downfall and Garnet's salvation. After hearing that Benson and Pond, while attempting to access Mardsen's judicial records, had been arrested on her orders (having been alerted to their efforts by a clerk, who invoked fictitious protocols to keep the records secure long enough for her to deal with the situation) on equally made-up charges, Copeland, concluding that the judge must have something to hide, looks up the records herself, which reveal the real story: Mardsen would target teenagers who had committed minor offenses (urinating in public, public lewdness, etc.), turn the offense into a felony sex offense, and ship them off to the Wellsburg facility. After alerting Cragen of the situation and seeing to the release of the women - had she been involved with them from the beginning, she would've likely ended up in the same cell, and Marsden's criminal secrets safe - an interrogation of the clerk reveals that her cousin runs the facility; for every new prisoner admitted under her name, she receives large financial kickbacks.
The truth now known, Copeland eagerly helps the SVU squad stage a sting operation on Mardsen, "prosecuting" Kim's actor friend, Ethan, for "stealing" and destroying his girlfriend's father's car, with Agent Huang (there to arrest her on the federal charges stemming from the scheme running across state lines) as Ethan's defense attorney, Captain Cragen as his exasperated father, and Detective Stabler as the "victim", who had previously bribed Marsden in order get her to increase the charges against him. The sting is successful, Mardsen is exposed (with the counsel smugly informing the incredulous judge that the "nightmare" of her courtroom was over) and taken into custody by Stabler, Cragen and Huang, . As she was being led away, the judge glowers menacingly at an unintimidated Copeland, who stares right back, her face a mixture of disgust at Mardsen's crimes and satisfaction in the knowledge that no "offenders" will ever go through what Kim and so many teens had - and that the judge would now be made to answer for her actions.
Along with Pond and the detectives, Copeland helps to vacate Mardsen's conviction of Kim and get her record completely cleared of the bogus charges. She also apologizes to Kim and the detectives for what happened, promising to be more respectful towards victims and getting their help for investigations the correct way, not the easy way (stating that the easy way almost cost Kim her future). She also plans to help the SVU clear the records of Mardsen's other victims as well.