Michael Cutter

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Michael "Mike" Cutter
Law & Order character
Michael Cutter - L&O.png
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)
2011–2012 (SVU)[1]
Seasons L&O: 18, 19, 20
SVU: 13
Credited appearances 63 episodes (L&O)
4 episode (SVU)
67 episodes (total)
Preceded by Jack McCoy (L&O)
Elizabeth Donnelly
(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.

Character overview[edit]


Law & Order[edit]

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.[2] 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).[3]

In the 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 receives a letter of reprimand from the Bar Overseers which also states that the flaw in his academic background does not prejudice his past convictions. The letter is published in the Law Journal the next day, and he is able to retain his law license.[4]

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit[edit]

In 2011, the character was introduced into the continuity of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In the show's universe, 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 (Stephanie March) and Casey Novak (Diane Neal). 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 Cabot to prosecute the case. When he tells her that they are dropping the charges, she protests his decision, saying "All I ever heard was how Mike Cutter was a crusader for justice." The case goes to trial, but the jury deadlocks on the rape charge.[5]

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) uses issues of race in his 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 Nick Amaro (Danny Pino), who has to be calmed by Sergeant John Munch (Richard Belzer) when Cutter asks him a question about the legality of their arrest.[6]

Cutter is last seen in the episode "Father's Shadow", in which he prosecutes a reality show producer for raping an aspiring actress.[7]



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."[8]

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 find the likely hideout of a kidnapping victim who had been threatened with death. When the presiding judge is approached for a search warrant, he refuses to execute the warrant without further evidence such as computerized police records which, because the city is experiencing a power blackout, are inaccessible. Gambling that he could be able to justify the actions later, Cutter tells 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.

Personal life[edit]

Cutter is pro-life.[9]

It is implied in several episodes that Cutter has romantic feelings for Rubirosa. McCoy, despite experiencing controversy due to his own relationships with various former ADAs, appears to understand how Cutter feels. In the episode "For the Defense", it is hinted that she is aware of his attraction, but her own feelings are left ambiguous.[10]

Cutter's parents divorced when he was 10 years old, and since then, he has had very little contact with his father.[11]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Q&A: 'Law & Order's' Linus Roache Makes A Welcome Return
  2. ^ "Called Home". Law & Order. Season 18. Episode 1. January 2, 2008. NBC. 
  3. ^ "Executioner". Law & Order. Season 18. Episode 9. February 20, 2008. NBC. 
  4. ^ "Innocence". Law & Order. Season 20. Episode 16. February 20, 2008. NBC. 
  5. ^ "Scorched Earth". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 1. September 21, 2011. NBC. 
  6. ^ "True Believers". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 6. November 2, 2011. NBC. 
  7. ^ "Father's Shadow". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 18. February 8, 2012. NBC. 
  8. ^ Starr, Michael (2007-10-04). "The New DA". New York Post. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  9. ^ "Dignity". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 20. Episode 5. October 23, 2009. NBC. 
  10. ^ "For the Defense". Law & Order. Season 20. Episode 9. November 13, 2009. NBC. 
  11. ^ "Brazil". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 20. Episode 18. March 29, 2010. NBC.