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Nina Cassady

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Det. Nina Cassady
Law & Order character
First appearance"Fame"
Last appearance"The Family Hour"
Portrayed byMilena Govich

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Nina Cassady is a fictional character on the NBC crime drama Law & Order, portrayed by Milena Govich. Cassady, who is the only female detective to co-lead in the original Law & Order series, is on the show for all of the seventeenth season. She is partnered with Det. Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin).[1]

Govich initially appeared on Law & Order as Geneva in the sixteenth season episode "Flaw". She appeared in a total of 22 episodes.

Character development[edit]

The beginning of season seventeen explains that Detective Cassady was transferred to the 27th Precinct after a shootout at a beauty parlor, which led to the press nicknaming her "Detective Beauty Queen". Subsequent episodes reveal that her character was born in Queens, New York, and comes from a family of police officers. Her brother Jimmy served in the 97th Precinct.[2] She has a sister-in-law and a niece, presumably Jimmy's wife and daughter.[3] She attended Sunday school for six years.[4]

In L&O[edit]

The entrance of Nina Cassady's character creates instant tension within the 27th Precinct. The issues of a detective's experience and gender become central to her tenure on the show, as she grapples with the perceptions of her coworkers, superiors, and that of the media. Almost immediately, she is looked down upon for having less experience than her fellow homicide detectives, and her promotion to homicide is seen as a fluke after her high-profile shootout in a beauty parlor. She ends up with the nickname "Detective Beauty Queen", which annoys her and sets the tone for many of the conflicts that follow for her on the show.

In the seventeenth season opener, there is almost immediate tension with her boss, Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson), who states that she already had a "hand-picked" replacement for Det. Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina), a much older and more experienced detective.[2] Over the course of the season, Van Buren appears to come to accept Cassady as a detective, at least up until the season finale "The Family Hour", during which old tensions resurface. Cassady botches an interrogation by losing her temper and goading a suspect who was close to a confession; the suspect is enraged to the point that he throws a chair through a glass window. Van Buren chastises her for acting unprofessionally even after eight months on the job, suggesting that Cassady will not have a future in homicide at the 27th Precinct after all. While Cassady recovers from her mistake by giving a strong performance on the witness stand for the prosecution,[5] Cassady is no longer a character on the show at the start of the eighteenth season, and is succeeded by Det. Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto).[6] No explanation for Cassady's departure is given and she is neither seen nor referred to again.

Other more minor issues that come into play during the course of Cassady's season on the show are those of family lineage and race. It is revealed that Cassady's character is of Irish descent when a suspect falsely believes her to be Jewish and uses anti-Semitic slurs against her during an interrogation.[7] On the street, Cassady raises the topic of racial profiling, explaining to Green that if she were on a street late at night and she saw three black teenagers coming towards her, she would cross the street away from them. However, she nuances her opinion by adding to Green, an African-American, that the police should not necessarily be allowed to make a traffic stop solely based on his race.[8]


  1. NBC.com > Law & Order
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Fame". Law & Order. Season 17. Episode 1. September 22, 2006.
  3. "Avatar". Law & Order. Season 17. Episode 2. September 29, 2006.
  4. Lang, George. "Actress hits target with cop role" NewsOK. August 29, 2006.
  5. "The Family Hour". Law & Order. Season 17. Episode 22. May 18, 2007.
  6. "Called Home". Law & Order. Season 18. Episode 1. January 2, 2008.
  7. "In Vino Veritas". Law & Order. Season 17. Episode 7. November 3, 2006.
  8. "Fear America". Law & Order. Season 17. Episode 4. October 13, 2006.

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