Rene Balcer

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René Balcer, 2008

René Balcer (February 9, 1954 – ) is an Emmy-award-winning Canadian-American television writer, producer and director. He is principally known as the head writer and executive producer of Law & Order and for creating Law & Order: Criminal Intent.


  • I write about power, that's my real subject - how you get it, what you do with it, how you abuse it. I'm equally wary of liberals and conservatives.
    • Quoted in Le Devoir, September 14, 2009, Un surdoué du crime: On his writing.
  • It is true that one of the first acts of tyrants is to erase history, to wipe out the recorded memory of a people. With that in mind, it's important to remember that the work that we do as writers, artists and performers will form an essential part of the collective memory that future generations will draw upon. And so we owe it to those future generations to defend that memory and be honest witnesses to our times.
    • In a speech to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, 12/8/09: On the duties of artists.
  • Torture injures everyone who comes into contact with it and corrodes the country that abides it.
    • Quoted in Harper's Magazine, October 5, The People v. The Torture Team: Six Questions for Law & Order's Rene Balcer: On torture.
  • I’m sympathetic to the decent and hapless footsoldier into whose lap falls the unenviable duty of carrying out fubar policies.
    • Quoted in Harper's Magazine, October 5, The People v. The Torture Team: Six Questions for Law & Order's Rene Balcer: On the Iraq War.
  • We by nature mistrust authority no matter who wields it—and I think that’s healthy. Though I disagreed with him on the facts, I fully support Rep. Joe Wilson’s right to call out President Obama—I just wish Democrats had had the balls to call out President Bush when he was peddling his lies to Congress.
    • Quoted in Harper's Magazine, October 5, The People v. The Torture Team: Six Questions for Law & Order's Rene Balcer: On American politics.
  • In L.A., the only thing within walking distance is your car.
    • Quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, September 9, 2010, TV's Top 50 Showrunners: On Los Angeles.
  • Women write crime better than men do. Men tend to play it safe, relying on an old-boy's network (to get work). Women feel freer. They swing for the bleachers.
    • Quoted in The New York Times , December 30, 2008, Onstage, Tackling Ambition and Crime: On Writers.

Law & Order[edit]

Quotes from television episodes written by René Balcer

  • Man has only the rights he can defend. Our most basic right is life. It's enshrined not only in our Constitution, but in the charter of the United Nations. The prohibition against taking a life is found in our most ancient texts and in the statutes of every nation. Every murder, whether in Brooklyn, Santiago, Rwanda or Kosovo, demands punishment by whatever legal means possible. Otherwise, the right to life is just an empty promise. The law against murder applies to all. No matter the perpetrator, the victim, or the country where the murder is committed. It is the one moral law that recognizes no national, racial or religious boundaries. It can tolerate no exception. There is one law. One law. And when that law is broken it is the duty of every officer of any court to rise in defense of that law, and bring their full power and diligence to bear against the law breaker. Because Man has only those rights he can defend. Only those rights.
    • Spoken by Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy in the Law & Order episode Vaya Con Dios.
  • If you're going to play stickball in Canarsie you better learn Brooklyn rules.
  • I'm playing legal tiddlywinks with these punks. What I'd really like to do is take 'em up to Battery Park and hang 'em by the scrotum.
  • I'll make sure you go away for so long, they'll be planting tomatoes on Mars by the time you get out.
    • ADA Jack McCoy.
  • Just how far up your ass is your head?!

Law & Order: Criminal Intent[edit]

Quotes from television episodes written by René Balcer

  • Your client's not insane... he's in love. Maybe it's hard for you to tell the two apart, but the law can.
  • It's not enough to do good. You have to be seen doing good.
  • See? That's what happens when you keep people from doing what they do best: It makes them insane.

External links[edit]

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