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Law & Order: Season 09 ()

With the eighth-season departure of series regular Carey Lowell as ADA Jamie Ross, Angie Harmon joined the cast of Law & Order at the beginning of its ninth season. Harmon, of course, played Ross' replacement, ADA Abbie Carmichael, who, if anything, was even more zealous in her pursuit of justice than her new partner Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston). Having racked up a 95 percent conviction rate while working in Special Narcotics, Carmichael tackled her new job with a zeal and ferocity that shocked even the ruthless McCoy -- to say nothing of her sanguine boss, DA Adam Schiff (Steven Hill). There were no ninth-season changes amongst the series' detectives, with Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Curtis (Benjamin Bratt) continuing to track down clues and collar perps under the supervision of Lt. Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson). However, actor Bratt was anxious to pursue other professional vistas, and thus it was arranged to write Rey Curtis out of the series during the final episode, explaining that he had requested a desk job so that he could devote more time to his wife, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. But before his character's departure, Bratt managed to persuade his then-girlfriend, cinema superstar Julia Roberts, to appear in a guest role in the episode "Empire." The result was one of Roberts' finest performances, which earned the actress an Emmy. Of the many headline-inspired episodes in season nine, one was a standout: "Sideshow," the series' third and final crossover with the NBC crime drama Homicide: Life on the Street. Clearly inspired by the ongoing efforts to impeach President Bill Clinton, the episode featured a somewhat sinister independent counsel named William Dell, who, as played by George Hearn, bore a striking resemblance to the much-maligned Kenneth Starr. Law & Order closed its ninth season with a powerful two-parter involving the Russian mafia. On this occasion, Carolyn McCormick made a return visit to the series as former police psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Olivet, a recurring character who had been more or less supplanted during the previous two seasons by J.K. Simmons as Dr. Emil Skoda. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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