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Law and Order

John James McCoy, also known as Jack McCoy, was the District Attorney for the borough of Manhattan. McCoy was previously an Executive Assistant District Attorney.


Early life[]

Jack's father, an Irish immigrant, was a police officer for 31 years in Chicago, Illinois. However, the elder McCoy was also abusive, beating both Jack and his mother, secure in the knowledge that his badge would protect him from the consequences. His father was also a racist, punching Jack for dating a Polish girl. He eventually died from lung cancer due to his excessive smoking.

McCoy was raised Catholic and was educated by the Jesuits, but he has not been in practice for a long time. He allegedly lost his faith after the death of a childhood friend.

In his teenage years, Jack rebelled, protesting against Vietnam and Nixon's policies, but did not find much satisfaction in being on the losing side. Sometime around 1966, Jack discovered the law. His rebel streak never quite went away, however; he drives a Yamaha motorcycle and was a huge fan of punk rock bands such as The Clash.

College life[]

Jack became a lawyer, apparently graduating from New York University in 1970. In 1972, he published a piece in the New York University Law Review defending Catholic priests who refused to be enlisted due to religious objections to the Vietnam War. During that time, he worked for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Lawyer life[]

McCoy in 1998.

McCoy served as an ADA and EADA for 24 years. During this time, he worked with three female ADAs and had relationships with all of them - something he was known for.(L&O: "Second Opinion") One of them, Ellen, became his wife and the mother of his only child, Rebecca. Another, Diana Hawthorne, later went to jail for asking an expert witness to change his testimony in one case so that McCoy would win and get a promotion, unbeknownst to him. (L&O: "Trophy") The third assistant was Sally Bell, a defense attorney. (L&O: "Scoundrels")

McCoy often bends—and sometimes breaks—trial rules to get convictions, finds tenuous rationales for charging defendants with crimes when the original charges fail to stick, and charges innocent people to frighten them into testifying against others. McCoy is more than once found in contempt of court for such behavior, and his tactics occasionally incur negative publicity for the DA's office. His underlying motivation, however, is a sincere desire to see justice done. To that end, McCoy has gone after defendants accused of perverting the justice system to arrange wrongful convictions with just as much determination as his more mundane cases. Such aggressive actions in the courts have earned him the nickname "Hang 'em High McCoy". He has subsequently developed a reputation with both colleagues and rival attorneys, once being referred to as "the top of the legal food chain" by a rival attorney during a case. He is also known for sleeping with his assistants.

In 1994, Executive ADA Benjamin Stone resigned from his post in the wake of a case in which the main witness had been murdered by the Russian Mafia, and DA Adam Schiff appointed McCoy as Stone's successor. McCoy began to work closely with ADA Claire Kincaid, and it was revealed that they were lovers until her death in a car accident.

McCoy felt extremely guilty about Kincaid's death due to the fact that a few weeks before it occurred, he had talked her out of quitting her job as an ADA. After a short period of time during which McCoy worked alone, ADA Jamie Ross became his partner. Although they had an amicable relationship, they never became lovers. In fact, McCoy never had an affair with any of his assistants after Kincaid's death and his love life was never mentioned again.

Ross, who had been a defense attorney before becoming a prosecutor, left to spend more time with her daughter and later became a defense attorney again, opposing McCoy on occasion. Abbie Carmichael later replaced her; she left to work for the U.S. Attorney's office. She was replaced by Serena Southerlyn, who was fired for being too sympathetic towards the defendants. Next came Alexandra Borgia, who was kidnapped from her own apartment and found in the trunk of an abandoned car, bound, brutally beaten and dead of asphyxiation after choking on her own vomit because of her participation in a case. Outraged, McCoy arranged a sham prosecution to make sure her murderers went to prison for life, skirting legal ethics to the point that he almost faced disbarment and was replaced by a special prosecutor. Borgia's position was filled by Connie Rubirosa.

When Arthur Branch resigned as the District Attorney, McCoy was appointed to succeed Branch as the District Attorney for the Borough of Manhattan. McCoy appointed ADA Michael Cutter as his successor in the position of EADA with Rubirosa as his partner.

This is ironic since Branch told McCoy that he would never be DA (L&O: "Red Ball"). This is explained later: the New York Attorney General wanted ADA Josh Lethem appointed to the position, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted someone else. As a compromise, the governor appointed McCoy so everyone's hands are clean and McCoy doesn't have to satisfy anyone's political agenda. (L&O: "Illegal") Throughout the nineteenth season, McCoy is in a reelection battle with Joe Chappell, the handpicked candidate of Governor Donald Shalvoy, a former friend of McCoy who is revealed to be corrupt. Following a scandal involving Shalvoy's wife committing murder-for-hire, Shalvoy is forced to resign by Cutter and McCoy wins the election. (SVU: "The Drowned and the Saved")

At some point after 2010, McCoy left office but subsequently returned under circumstances that have not been explained. After the death of Benjamin Stone, McCoy gave a eulogy at his funeral and convinced Benjamin's son Peter to become his new ADA. After Rafael Barba ended a brain-dead baby's life, McCoy had Peter prosecute him for murder, although McCoy admitted that he was sympathetic with Barba's actions and hoped that the jury would be too. Barba was ultimately acquitted, but the trauma of the recent events prompted him to resign. McCoy told Barba that he didn't have to resign, but he understood why he was and he wished Barba the best. (SVU: "The Undiscovered Country")



  • McCoy currently holds the record for most police officers prosecuted under his tenure. (L&O: "Illegal")
  • Jack was married at one point to a woman named Ellen. They had at least one daughter together, but ended up getting a divorce. That daughter was seen in the Season 17 episode "Fallout", and in 2009, McCoy mentioned that she was pregnant. (L&O: "Dignity") McCoy has been divorced at least twice however, as he remarked in Home Sweet that Alissa Goodwyn was his second ex-wife's divorce attorney.
  • He has been held in contempt of court 80 times.


Icon L&O.jpg Law & Order - Main Characters

Senior Detectives: Max GreeveyPhil CerretaLennie BriscoeJoe FontanaEd GreenCyrus LupoFrank Cosgrove

Junior Detectives: Mike LoganRey CurtisEd GreenNick FalcoNina CassadyCyrus LupoKevin Bernard

Commanding Officers: Captain Donald Cragen • Lieutenant Anita Van Buren • Lieutenant Kate Dixon


Executive Assistant District Attorneys: Benjamin StoneJack McCoyMichael CutterNathan Price

Assistant District Attorneys: Paul RobinetteClaire KincaidJamie RossAbbie CarmichaelSerena SoutherlynAlexandra BorgiaConnie RubirosaSamantha Maroun

District Attorneys: Adam SchiffNora LewinArthur BranchJack McCoy


Elizabeth OlivetAlfred Wentworth