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What's Happened to Tony Goldwyn’s Nicholas Baxter, the New Law & Order D.A.?

The newest lawyer on the franchise is a man from “political dynasty pedigree" — which has come to haunt him.

By Jessica White & Jill Sederstrom

There was new man in charge at the district attorney’s office on Law & Order in Season 23.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 24 premiere of Law & Order Thursday, October 3 at 8/7c on NBC

Tony Goldwyn’s Nicholas Baxter was officially sworn in as the new Manhattan district attorney, and he made a memorable first impression.

The politically connected prosecutor dropped in on a crime scene in his first few hours on the job, surprising detectives and laying out his expectations for the district attorney’s office. 

RELATED: First Look at Tony Goldwyn on Law & Order Has New DA’s Staff in a Panic: “We Are Screwed”

Of course, Baxter had big shoes to fill after taking over for Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston): The long-time veteran ended his run of 400 episodes over decades by handing in his resignation and bidding his staff an emotional farewell.

But as the newbie settled into the D.A.'s office, viewers loved learning more about the attorney’s past and what makes him tick. 

Da Nicholas Baxter sits at his desk on Law And Order Episode 2307

Who is Nicholas Baxter, the new district attorney in Law & Order Season 23?

Before Baxter joined the DA's office, Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) described him to ADA Samantha Maroun (Odelya Halevi) as an “ambitious” attorney with impressive political ties. 

RELATED: Law & Order’s Odelya Halevi Was "Crying for Days" Over Sam Waterston's Departure

“Do we know anything about him?” a curious Maroun asked. 

“Other than his uncle’s a senator and his father’s on Clinton’s speed dial?” Price quipped. “I have a few friends who worked for him at the U.S. Attorney’s office, they say he’s the real deal. They like him.”

One of the first things Baxter said about himself was that he was “excited” about the job. Just 30 minutes after being sworn in as the new DA, he stopped by a crime scene and found Detectives Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) and Vincent Riley (Reid Scott) working the case. 

“I was just walking uptown and saw the swirling lights and got excited,” he confessed to the surprised investigators. “I thought I’d pop my head inside. I haven’t been to a crime scene in over 30 years, couldn’t help myself.”

Da Nicholas Baxter Ada Samantha Maroun and Ada Nolan Price on Law And Order episode 2309

When did D.A. Nicholas Baxter first appear on Law & Order?

Baxter made his first appearance in Season 23, Episode 7 ("Balance of Power") when he was appointed to be the Manhattan District Attorney by the governor of New York after the elected D.A., Jack McCoy, resigned.

RELATED: Sam Waterston's Final Law & Order Episode Reveals Why Jack McCoy Had to Leave

He instantly made it clear he wanted to mend fences with the mayor's office after McCoy “ruffled some political feathers” on his way out, and mold the office in his own image.

“A top priority of mine is gonna be to get people back on the same page,” he told Price in their first sit-down together. “This office is part of a system and that system works most effectively when it works together, especially when it comes to my senior staff. I need to know that I have a team I can trust.” 

He did so by firing people: One district attorney's office staffer was seen carrying his belongings out in a cardboard box after being let go. 

“Baxter started calling senior staff in for meetings this morning,” Price told Maroun as they watched the unlucky employee walk by.

“I know it’s not uncommon for an incoming D.A. to make changes, but this guy’s not wasting any time,” Maroun replied. 

The staff roster wasn’t the only thing that would look different at the DA’s office in the wake of McCoy's departure. Baxter also made plans to re-decorate McCoy’s office to make it “more contemporary.”

ADA Nolan Price and DA Nicholas Baxter on Law And Order Episode 2312

What happened to Nicholas Baxter and his family in the Law & Order Season 23 finale?

In the Season 23 finale ("In Harm's Way"), a shooting at red carpet event Baxter was attending with his daughter Carrie (played by Goldwyn's real-life daughter Tess Goldwyn) led to the death of a famed baseball pitcher.

The investigation revealed the shot was intended for Baxter, who had been targeted by a gang after previously prosecuting some of their top leaders. Carrie, who had seen the suspect standing outside the Baxter residence a week before the shooting, turned out to be a pivotal witness.

But Baxter's wife Julia (Tara Westwood) didn't want Carrie to testify because of a deep family secret she feared would be dredged up by the defense, which could harm both Carrie and Baxter's political campaign to keep his job.

RELATED: Tony Goldwyn's Sprawling Career From Ghost to Oppenheimer and Now Law & Order

Still, Carrie — who wanted to be an attorney and had one year left of law school — insisted on testifying. But when she took the stand, cross-examination revealed that, when she was a sophomore at Princeton University, she'd hit a civilian with her car while driving under the influence. The man lived but lost the use of his left arm. 

Carrie had been charged with a felony for aggravated assault, but the charges were later reduced to a less serious misdemeanor. After testifying that her lawyers figured that all out, it became clear that Baxter had pulled some strings in the case.

Despite the hitch, her testimony proved to be the linchpin in convicting the baseball player's murderer.

But while the murderer was convicted, Baxter was left with public relations nightmare. 

"As district attorney, I have an obligation to enforce the law with compassion and integrity,” Baxter told a frenzied press. “As a father, I have an obligation to help and support my daughter, so if you’re asking me to apologize for trying to protect her future, it’s not going to happen.”

Law And Order 2313 Da Nicholas Baxter Family

Only time — and Season 24 of Law & Order — will tell how the Baxter family scandal will influence Baxter's campaign or change his colleagues' view of him.

Originally published Mar 14, 2024.