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|Michael "Mike" Cutter|
|Law & Order character|
Cutter in "Quit Claim"
|First appearance||"Called Home" (L&O)
"Scorched Earth" (SVU)
|Last appearance||"Rubber Room" (L&O)
"Father's Shadow" (SVU)
|Portrayed by||Linus Roache|
|Time on show||2008–2010 (L&O)
|Seasons||L&O: 18, 19, 20
|Credited appearances||63 episodes (L&O)
4 episode (SVU)
67 episodes (total)
|Preceded by||Jack McCoy (L&O)
(Bureau Chief ADA) (SVU)
Michael "Mike" Cutter is a fictional character on the long-running NBC series Law & Order and its spinoff Law & Order: Special Victims Unit played by Linus Roache. The character debuted in the eighteenth season premiere of Law & Order, broadcast on January 2, 2008, and remained until its series finale "Rubber Room" on May 24, 2010. The character returned to television in the thirteenth season premiere of Special Victims Unit, broadcast on September 21, 2011. He has appeared in sixty-three episodes of L&O and four episodes of SVU.
Within the continuity of Law & Order, Cutter is an Executive Assistant District Attorney, following the appointment of his predecessor Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) to the New York County District Attorney seat vacated by Arthur Branch (Fred Dalton Thompson).
He works closely with Connie Rubirosa (Alana de la Garza), the Assistant District Attorney who had previously aided McCoy. Because of this, he has occasionally discussed McCoy with her—usually with complaints—in an attempt to understand his new boss. As evidenced by his first appearance, he is familiar with former District Attorney Arthur Branch, having apparently been in Branch's office on at least one occasion (L&O: "Called Home"). In the episode "Executioner", he reveals that he supports the death penalty. In the L&O episode "By Perjury", he is almost murdered in the bathroom of the courthouse before being saved at the last moment by detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson).
In the L&O season 20 episode "Innocence", Cutter's former Hudson University law professor raises an issue regarding Cutter's qualification to practice law. Although he did the required undergraduate work, a few college credits were not recorded into his academic record. As a result of the missing credits, Cutter never received an undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts (BA). Despite the lack of an undergraduate degree, he attended and graduated from law school; however, he "perpetuated" the oversight to the Bar Overseers by misrepresenting to them that he had received a BA and was admitted to the New York State Bar. He made the same misrepresentation when he applied for a position with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. At the end of the episode, he received a letter of reprimand from the Bar Overseers which also stated that the flaw in his academic background did not prejudice his past convictions. The letter would be published in the Law Journal the next day, and he was able to retain his law license.
In 2011, Cutter is promoted at the District Attorney's office to Bureau Chief ADA, where he oversees the assistant district attorneys assigned to the Special Victims Unit, most notably longtime Special Victims ADA's Alexandra Cabot and Casey Novak. He is introduced as SVU's Bureau Chief in the episode, "Scorched Earth", where an Italian diplomat is accused of raping a hotel maid. He works with ADA Cabot to prosecute the case, but when he tells her that they are dropping the charges, she protests his decision, saying all she ever heard was that "Mike Cutter was a crusader for justice, what happened to you?" The case goes to trial, but the jury deadlocks on the rape charge.
In the episode "True Believers", Cutter takes the lead on a case when Cabot is unavailable where a college music student (Sofia Vassilieva) is raped at gunpoint by a drug dealer. Powerful defense attorney Bayard Ellis (Andre Braugher) plays the "race card" defense and Cutter fails to get a guilty verdict on the case. Cutter's strong handed tactics do not sit well with the SVU detectives, especially Detective Amaro, who has to be calmed by Sergeant Munch when Cutter asks him a question about the legality of their arrest.
Bureau Chief Cutter was last seen in the episode, "Father's Shadow", where they are prosecuting a reality show producer for raping an aspiring actress.
Roache describes his character as follows: "Sometimes he's a little dangerous; he's not necessarily a comfortable kind of guy." (...) "He cares about justice ... but he sometimes takes these leaps out-of-the-box and is kind of non-linear." Since the introduction of Cutter on Law & Order, little has been revealed about his past or personal life. In the L&O episode "Pledge", Cutter said he attended a "state school" but did not name the school or indicate whether he attended the school as an undergraduate, a law student, or both.
Like his predecessor, Jack McCoy, Cutter is dogged in his pursuit of justice. Also, he appears willing to bend or break rules to secure a conviction. In L&O's "Darkness", detectives found the likely hideout of a kidnap victim who had been threatened with death. When the presiding judge was approached for a search warrant, he refused to execute the warrant without further evidence such as computerized police records which, because the city was experiencing a power blackout, were inaccessible. Gambling that he could be able to justify the actions later, Cutter told the detectives to enter the premises anyway. In L&O's "Quit Claim", he nearly suborns perjury.
In L&O's "Tango", he realizes one of the jurors is attracted to his ADA, Connie Rubirosa (Alana de la Garza). He makes no mention of this to her, and encourages her to cross-examine witnesses in his stead. When she learns the truth, she feels Cutter "pimped [her] out to the jury". Regardless, subsequent episodes have portrayed a stable working and friendly relationship. In L&O's "Brilliant Disguise", Cutter talks about his actions while cross-examining the defendant in an attempt to elicit incriminating testimony, but claimed that he'd ordered her to instead of tricked her, much to her displeasure, by the end of the episode, he apologizes to Connie, she responds naturally and without friction.
Other methods of Cutter's include guilt tripping (potential) witnesses. Near the end of "Darkness", Cutter uses a man's daughter to make him testify. In another episode, he convinces a young girl that her relative may face serious charges unless she talks. He even once intimidated a defendant in L&O's "Bogeyman"; by implying that he is a member of a Scientology-like group called "Systemotics," Cutter exploits the defendant's paranoia to earn a plea bargain. In L&O's "Skate or Die", Cutter pretends to be a Russian spy to provoke a witness into headbutting him in front of Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (Carolyn McCormick) and demonstrate to her that the witness is a threat to himself and to others, leaving her no choice but to order him to take anti-psychotic medication. Cutter benefits from his provocation because the medicated witness is now able to provide coherent testimony.
In the L&O season 19 finale "The Drowned and the Saved", McCoy agrees not to bring criminal charges against the governor in exchange for testifying against his wife as part of a plea deal. After McCoy leaves the room, however, Cutter shows a piece of paper to the governor purporting to contain a list of call girls and demanded that he resign at the threat of exposing the list. When the governor points out that that was not part of the deal, Cutter simply responds, "I'm not Jack McCoy." Later, after the governor publicly resigns, Cutter reveals that the piece of paper was blank.
In the L&O season 20 episode "For The Defense", he and Connie try to prosecute a former EADA, Marcus Woll, but while trying to stand trial for murder, he realizes that Connie and Marcus had an affair. This frustrates Cutter, as Marcus is trying to take Connie away from the DA's Office, especially as Marcus Woll is Cutter's "enemy."
In the L&O season 20 episode "Immortal", when Cutter questions Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson), he uses her ongoing cancer treatment to win his case. Van Buren later confronts him outside of court, accusing him of using her and violating her privacy. At the end of the episode, the two are implied to be on non-speaking terms.
In "By Perjury", Cutter squares off against civil attorney Marty Winston. Winston was leading an action against an airline where a jet exploded killing nearly all on board. Winston, representing himself pro se, successfully has a murder committed in Pennsylvania dismissed with prejudice. Cutter probes Winston further, looking into the murder of the federal judge assigned to the original civil complaint where a man Victor Cruz who was among the plaintiffs was arrested by federal authorities for murdering the judge who seemed sympathetic to the airline who was the defendant in the case, Cruz was later executed. Cutter this time went after Winston for murdering Cruz, arguing Winston killed Cruz by framing his client to keep the judge from dismissing the civil case. In the case against Cruz, a cigarette butt with Cruz's DNA was found at the judge's apartment. Cruz stated he smoked at Winston's office but when testifying himself as a witness against Cruz, said Cruz was never allowed to smoke. When Cutter visited Winston at his Lower Manhattan office, asked Winston if he could smoke and Winston allowed him to do so. Cutter began piecing together the way Winston framed Cruz for the murder. After repeated sessions in court, Winston had seemed to always have the upper hand on Cutter. Winston was even allowed to remain on bail resulting from the Pennsylvania murder. Later Cutter uses helping Cruz's widow file a grievance against Winston to get him taken off the airline case and denied a big pay day. Winston follows Cutter into the courthouse's bathroom and pulls out a gun intent on murdering him. Detectives Bernard and Lupo had been steps away from the bathroom and upon entering discover Winston with the gun and arrest him for the attempted murder of a sitting prosecutor.
Cutter is pro-life (L&O "Dignity").
In L&O episode 20.9, "For the Defense", Cutter indicates that he harbors romantic feelings for Connie Rubirosa. McCoy, despite experiencing controversy due to his own relationships with various former ADAs (including Claire Kincaid), appears to be supportive of Cutter's aspirations. At the end of the episode, it is hinted that she is aware of his attraction, but her own feelings are unknown.
In L&O episode 20.18, "Brazil", Cutter mentions that his parents divorced when he was 10 years old, and since then, he has had very little contact with his father.
Notes and references
- Q&A: 'Law & Order's' Linus Roache Makes A Welcome Return
- Starr, Michael (2007-10-04). "The New DA". New York Post. Retrieved 2007-11-17.