Tensions Between DA Baxter and Nolan Price Exploded on This Week’s Law & Order: Details

Tension between new District Attorney Nicholas Baxter and Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price had been brewing for a while, but it finally boiled over in Season 23, Episode 12 of Law & Order.

The two men got into a heated argument while trying an emotional case together. While it began after they disagreed about how to move forward in the murder case, it quickly turned personal as Baxter made it clear he wasn’t “trying to be the next Jack McCoy,” a nod to his predecessor who left office earlier this season.

The heated exchange left both men feeling on edge — but it also may have been exactly what the coworkers needed to move past the persistent tension between them ever since Baxter (Tony Goldwyn) took office and replaced Price’s (Hugh Dancy) mentor.

Once they both cleared the air, the prosecutors were able to join forces to put a troubled murderer away.

The case began after a psychologist who worked with “killers and rapists” was violently murdered. Detectives Vincent Riley (Reid Scott) and Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) linked the killing to convicted rapist Shawn Payne, who had just been released from prison days earlier after serving just five years for a brutal aggravated rape.

ADA Nolan Price talks to the courtroom on Law And Order Episode 2303

ADA Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) on Law & Order Season 23 Episode 3, “Turn The Page”. Photo: Will Hart/NBC

Nolan Price forced to deal with consequences of prior plea deal

Shawn — whose DNA was found all over the body — had written his victim a letter from prison, saying he wanted to be friends with her after he was released.

The case was personal for Price, who not only knew the victim, but had also been the one to orchestrate the plea deal that put Shawn away for a short amount of time.. He told the detectives he had agreed to the deal to spare the young rape victim from having to re-live her trauma during a trial.

While discussing the case later with Baxter, the DA was quick to hone in on what now seemed like a deadly miscalculation.

“And you plead him out to five years? And he killed his counselor three days after he was out of prison?,” Baxter probed. “In retrospect, the plea deal was obviously a mistake. I mean, he committed a heinous murder 72 hours after he was out.”

Because of Price’s unique history with the defendant, Baxter believed Price was “compromised” and offered an unexpected solution.

“If you take first chair, it will look like you’re trying to redeem yourself,” he told Price before announcing that he would lead the case himself, with Price serving as the second chair in the trial.

Da Nicholas Baxter and Ada Nolan Price shake hands on Law And Order Episode 2307

ADA Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) and DA Nicholas Baxter (Tony Goldwyn) on Law & Order Season 23 Epsiode 7. Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Nolan Price and Nicholas Baxter have a heated argument

Although it may have looked like an open and shut case, during the trial, the defense attorney tried to divert suspicion away from her client and onto the victim’s boyfriend and his own allegedly violent past. She called the boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend to testify about two alleged physical assaults.

With the election to retain his post as Manhattan district attorney just one month away, Baxter was feeling the pressure to win the case and disagreed with Price about how to handle the ex-girlfriend’s damaging testimony.


“It would have been nice to know about the ex-girlfriend before trial,” he told Price back in his office.

“You wanted to fast track the case, it obviously compressed the amount of time…,” Price shot back.

Baxter told him that was “no excuse,” before launching into what was really standing between the two men.

“I think your perception of me is starting to affect our relationship,” Baxter told Price. “Let’s just cut to the chase. You think I’m using this trial to get re-elected. To get my name in the press?”

“Jack McCoy is gone,” DA Baxter yelled at Nolan Price

Price confirmed that he did believe that was part of Baxter’s “calculus” when volunteering to lead the case.

“Because of that, you think I’m more politician than prosecutor?,” Baxter asked before bringing up Price’s long-standing loyalty to McCoy (Sam Waterston).

“Jack McCoy is gone,” Baxter said. “And I’m sorry if that distorted your sense of stability and security. But let me be as transparent as I possibly can. I am not trying to be the next Jack McCoy. I don’t want to be the next Jack McCoy. I don’t care how he ran this office. Or how he conducted himself with the press. But that does not mean that I am some sort of political carnival barker looking to whore out this office to advance my ambition.”

As the rant continued, Baxter added that Price was “not entirely wrong” and admitted that he also did want to win the election “very badly.”

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

DA Nicholas Baxter (Tony Goldwyn), ADA Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) and ADA Samantha Maroun (Odelya Halevi) on Law & Order Season 23 Episode 9. Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Baxter told Nolan to feel free to quit

“I love this job. And I love trying cases,” Baxter continued. “And if you don’t understand or respect that, or me, then you are free to get the hell out.”

“Well, I guess if that’s how you feel,” a stunned Price replied.

“No. That is how you feel,” Baxter shot back.

With the tension reaching an all-time high, Price didn’t hesitate to unload his own frustrations.

“All I can say is that you are wrong,” he said. “And for the record, I think your perception of who I am is the thing affecting our relationship. You look at me like I’m constantly judging you, like I’m constantly comparing you to Jack McCoy, I’m not. I’m just trying to do my damn job. That’s the truth.”

Price stormed out of the office, but the heated argument seemed to release the tension that had been building between the two. Price even confided to ADA Samantha Maroun (Odelya Halevi) that he felt like Baxter was “doing a good job” during the trial and seemed to be tuning out any pressure about the election.

When the jury delivered a guilty verdict for second-degree murder, Price and Baxter shook hands, seemingly agreeing to turn over a new leaf in their relationship.

“Well done, Nolan,” Baxter commended him.

“You too,” Price replied. “And for the record, you were wrong. I never thought you were a carnival barker.”

To find out how the season will end, tune in to Law & Order Thursdays at 8/7c p.m. on NBC or stream episodes the next day on Peacock.

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