Casey Novak

Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak is a fictional character on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU), portrayed by Diane Neal since 2003.

ADA Casey Novak in a interrogation room
Time on Show: 2003- PRESENT
Succeeded: ADA Alexandra Cabot
First Appearance: Serendipity
Last Appearence: XXXXXXXXX
Portrayed By: Diane Neal


As played by Neal, Novak is a young, tough, focused prosecutor who, while sometimes deeply affected by the horrific situations she deals with on the job, does not often reveal her emotions. Novak can sometimes see the world in black and white and follows the law strictly without sympathy for the suspects and their situation, unless she is convinced otherwise by the detectives in SVU, or by extreme mitigating circumstances. Her idealism becomes especially clear in situations involving abuse of power. Although she quickly lost her innocence when dealing with sex crimes, she still shows uneasiness when dealing with the gray areas of human involvement, preferring the letter of the law to the messiness of each individual reality.

As the SVU Prosecutor

Novak prosecuted white collar crimes before being assigned full-time to the 16th Precinct (also known as the Sex Crimes unit) in 2003, after previous Assistant District Attorney (ADA), Alexandra Cabot, transferred into the Witness Protection Program. Following her first case, Novak asked the District Attorney (DA), Arthur Branch (played by Fred Dalton Thompson), to reassign her because she felt she couldn’t handle the intensity of prosecuting sex crimes, especially those committed against children. Branch refused, saying that he had been eyeing her for the job for some time, and thought she was a perfect choice for the position. She stayed on, and after nearly three years in the position she has become more at ease, even as the acts of sexual abuse she sees daily still repulse her.

Novak arrived on the scene with guns blazing, intent on leaving her mark on the bureau, and immediately approached Detectives Elliot Stabler (played by Christopher Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) by taking a hands-on approach, second-guessing their detective work and interfering with their interrogation of a suspect. It took a few months and a candid conversation with Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) to understand the necessity of working as a team. Not until spring of 2004 did Novak connect on a personal/professional level with Detectives Benson, Stabler, and John Munch (played by Richard Belzer). By September 2004, her relationship with Stabler in particular had developed to a level of professional respect and friendship. Before, the detectives had made little or no contact with her, partially because they strongly respected Novak's predecessor, Alexandra Cabot.

In May 2004, she was successful in having Judge Oliver Taft (Tom Skerritt), removed from the bench due to a bias in favor of certain defendants that resulted in a mother murdering her child and sent a woman wrongfully convicted of poisoning her daughter to prison for 10 years.

Like Cabot, Novak also became a crime victim while on the job. In early 2005, the brother of a rape victim that Novak was helping assaulted her in her office. Though not fatal, the attack was apparently meant as a form of honor killing because the sister, an undocumented immigrant, was required to disclose her rape in order to qualify for a "U visa" under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the brother a conservative Bosnian Muslim believed it was a disgrace.

Novak has a mentor-student relationship with former judge Mary Clark (Marlo Thomas), for whom she clerked after law school, and a sometimes irritated relationship with her former supervisor, Elizabeth Donnelly (Judith Light), who has since been appointed a judge. Occasionally, she finds herself opposing attorneys with whom she has worked before.


  • Novak plays softball in a law enforcement league on the ADA team and likes to visit the batting cage. Stabler first recognized her from having played her in a game (which her team apparently beat Stabler's team of police officers), and Cragen found her in the batting cages to discuss a case.
  • Novak rides her bike to work, even during rush hour.
  • Novak's father was a door gunner on a Huey helicopter in Vietnam who was shot down three times and earned a Purple Heart.
  • Out of all the L&O ADAs (such as Jack McCoy, Connie Rubirosa, Alexandra Borgia, Serena Southerlyn and Ron Carver), Novak is the youngest.
  • Neal appeared in Law and Order: SVU (Season 3, Episode 10 "Ridicule") in which she portrayed a female rapist, Amelia Chase, who was convicted by Alexandra Cabot.
  • During her final year in law school, Novak was engaged, yet her fiancé developed schizophrenia, remained untreated, and eventually became homeless. She never saw him again


Diane Neal

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