Jack McCoy is the Executive Assistant District Attorney
on Law & Order
, since season 5 (1994), played by Sam Waterston
McCoy is stubborn, opinionated, and has a tendency to get emotional about some cases. One of the reasons I like this character so much is that the particular cases he gets emotional about are the same ones I would. And yet, most of the times he and his assistant disagree, I agree with her. He pushes the limits of ethics and law, usually (but not always) for the right reasons. "We represent the people in a search for justice, which necessarily means the truth. It's not a competition and we're not paid to win."
He is responsible for one of my two favorite closing arguments on any lawyer TV show (the other is from Reasonable Doubts). It is from the episode Virtue in which they prosecuted a man for extortion because he made a woman sleep with him to further her career. It was something like, "Give me the keys to your house or I'll charge you with murder. I'm the D.A. I can do it. Give me $100,000 or I'll tell the Feds about the shipment of heroin I saw you pick up at JFK. I'm the DA. they'll listen. Sleep with me, or I'll tell your boss you're under indictment for fraud. It's not true, but do you think you'll have a job Monday morning? I can tell you where I'll be: spending the next ten years in jail, because that's called extortion. Sarah Maslin lay down on that couch, but can any of us really say she had a choice?"
They found the guy guilty.
McCoy has been a DA since 1975. His father was a cop in Chicago for 31 years, a shifty one from what we can tell, and they never got along - in part because he was abusive. "I'm still afraid of those hands." Jack attended a Jesuit school called St. Ignatius. And obviously he's of Irish descent. "Harrigan did it because he's a Mick? Detective Logan's a Mick. I'm a Mick. And if you don't shut up, I'll lose control and throw you out of the room!"
Some romantic history:
Before his promotion (which made him a character on the show), only three of the assistants he had over the years were female, and he was involved with all of them. The first, he married, and they had a daughter. I don't know if it's ever been said why they got divorced. The second one was Sally Bell, who appeared in the episode Scoundrels as a public defender. The third was Diana Hawthorne, who cheated to win a case to secure his promotion - and was prosecuted for it in Trophy. Since he joined the show, all his of assistants were female. Seasons 5-6: Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy); seasons 7-8: Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell), seasons 9-11: Abbie Carmichael (Angie Harmon), and season 12 and on: Serena Southerlyn (Elisabeth Rohm). The writers took care never to confirm that he slept with any of them, but he was definitely in love with Claire, and there was much innuendo with both her and Abbie. I think it is safe to say nothing ever happened with Jamie; rather, she sent him on blind dates. He also dated someone with red hair prior to any (unconfirmed, mind you) involvement with Claire, and a history professor during season 9.
He likes scotch and drives a Yamaha motorcycle.
McCoy's rules of drinking:
Rule No. 1: Never drink at work.
Rule No. 2: Never discuss work while drinking.
Rule No. 3: When Rule No. 2 is broken, never drink alone.