Sandra Bell is one of the new federal public defenders at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.


Early LifeEdit

She grew up in Sacramento, California.[1] As a child, she grew accustomed to being evicted and kept only the belongings she could carry away by herself, a habit she continues into adulthood.[2]

Mother's DeathEdit

As a child, her mother drove her to school any chance she got. One morning, her mom had to go into work early because they were doing inventory, so she gave her a peppermint from her job and said their morning time was back on the next day. At school, she was pulled out of class and her father told her her mom had been in a car accident. At the hospital, they made her sit and wait. They expected her to be okay because that's what the doctors said, but she was later told her mother had died.[3]

Swearing-in CeremonyEdit

On the day she was set to be sworn in as a new FPD, Sandra woke up at 4:30 AM and arrived at the courthouse over an hour early. She was steadily joined by the other new attorneys. At eight, Leonard Knox came in and walked into the courtroom, despite Kate Littlejohn informing him that Sandra had arrived there first to wait. Inside the courtroom, Tina Krissman introduced herself and had the two sides sit on opposite sides, knowing they wouldn't want to sit together. She then explained to them what would be happening and introduced Nicholas Byrne, who gave a speech about their work and swore them all in.[4]

First CaseEdit

After meeting Jill Carlan and being assigned her first case, Sandra went to her and asked what Duty meant. Jill explained that it was attorneys taking on new cases that came in, but she wasn't ready for it. Sandra insisted that she was, so Jill said she could do it. She went to wait by Tina's desk for a case, but Tina informed her she already had one and had missed the email because she didn't have a signal inside the courthouse. Tina, pleased by Sandra's show of respect, told her the fastest way to get to the courtroom so she wouldn't be late. When she arrived, she found that she was defending Mohamed Fayed, who was accused of attempting to bomb the Statue of Liberty. After finding out that it was a sting involving the FBI, she argued entrapment, saying that the government had created a terrorist where there otherwise wouldn't have bene one. Despite this argument, the jury returned with a guilty verdict. Sandra was upset at having lost her first case and went to Jill to ask what would come next. Jill reassured her that her first case didn't have to define her career.[5]

Pro Bono CaseEdit

Sandra took a pro bono case after seeing Anna Ledesma upset because she was going to be evicted. She learned that Anna and her son were living in inhumane conditions and her landlord was absent and not helpful. She argued in court that the maintenance of the apartment building violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because it didn't have adequate mobility for Anna's disabled son. She won her case and prevented Anna from being evicted.[6]

Dani RiosEdit

Sandra was assigned the case of Dani Rios, a whistle-blower who was charged with leaking classified documents while working at the NSA revealing that the government was using private medical records to find and deport undocumented immigrants. The prosecution hadn't gone to the press because Dani was a sympathetic defendant, so Sandra went to the press herself, putting pressure on them to say something. Kate didn't want to respond, because she felt it would have unintended consequences for Dani and Sandra and wanted to see what those were first before responding. Dani told Sandra she didn't want a deal, but Sandra went into negotiation with Kate anyway. Kate figure out that Dani didn't want a deal, which is why Sandra had no maximum she could accept. They tried again to make a deal, but Sandra backed out and told Kate she'd see her in court. They went to the courtroom, where Sandra asked for the documents Dani revealed to be released because they were required to proved that Dani hurt the US or benefited a foreign nation. Kate said they'd produce the document, but they'd have to be redacted, which would take 18 months at least and Dani would remained jailed during that time. Judge Byrne called both attorneys into his chambers, where he left them to work out a deal. After Kate told the story of what made her want to become a prosecutor, Sandra proposed a deal that involved Dani doing time served plus three years of supervised release and Kate agreed.[7]

Chloe DanielsEdit

Chloe Daniels was arrested for attacking a mailman. Because there was a chance he could die, Jill took the case and had Sandra, Jay, and Allison assist. They quickly became suspicious of Chloe when holes appeared in her story, but Jill believed Chloe didn't attack him with an intent to kill him. She continued to look for answers and eventually got a diagnosis of CTE for Chloe. The prosecution agreed to deferred prosecution in her case.[8]

Freddie MorrisEdit

Sandra was assigned to defend Freddie Morris, aka Captain Shadow, a man who attacked a tourist believing he was stopping a kidnapping. The tourist was merely chasing his own toddler and Freddie broke the man's collarbone when he attacked him. He was released on bond with a curfew and instructions to turn over his superhero costume. Sandra met with Leonard to try to make a deal and Leonard offered six months, which Sandra said was too much. He lowered the deal to three months, but she wasn't able to convince Freddie to take it. Leonard suggested he meet with Sandra and Freddie to sell the deal. He told a fabricated story of tying a towel around his neck and jumping off a roof, which broke his ankles. He convinced Freddie to take a deal to serve a month. Freddie was given a week to sort out his affairs and then he had to report to jail.[9]

Caz MurrayEdit

Sandra was assigned the case of Caz Murray, who was arrested and charged with making threats against the president when she posted a picture of herself pointing a gun at a picture of the president. Then she later posted that she was locked and loaded and coming for the president. She claimed she meant with her tongue. Sandra and Seth met to try to make a deal, but the meeting was cut short. Seth uncovered that Caz had entered a lottery to get front-row tickets to see the president speak. Seth offered three years of probation, no longer tagging the president on social media, and not being allowed within five miles of the president. Caz happily accepted the deal.[10]

DEA Raid and Brian TorresEdit

There was a DEA raid on Hughes street, during which the DEA made 12 arrests. Despite this, only 11 were logged into the system, so Jill sent Sandra to check out the 12th, Brian Torres. He was found in a holding cell, nearly dead, where he'd been for four days since his arrest. Roger immediately dropped the charges, but Jill wanted him to go after the DEA agent responsible for Brian being in the cell for four days. Roger didn't want to, but after Jill released the video of Brian's time in the cell, he eventually pressed charges against Kirk Keener. Because of Kirk's recent firing, he was appointed a public defender, Jill, assisted by Sandra. They initially tried to make a deal, but Kirk wouldn't take it because it involved admitting fault, so the case went to trial. Roger and Jill disagreed over whether or not the video of Brian Torres should be viewed by the jury. It was ultimately shown. The verdict then returned a not guilty verdict.[11]

Carlos PayanoEdit

Sandra was assigned to Carlos Payano who, after a prior counterfeiting charge, was detained at customs because Jason Goode believed he was carrying cocaine in his body. She went to the hospital to object to them x-raying him to find the drugs. When she arrived, the x-ray had already been done, but the results were inconclusive, so Agent Goode wanted to run a CT. When Sandra tried to stop him, she was handcuffed to a bar in the room and Carlos was taken away. Panicked, she called first Allison and then Jay to get an injunction to stop it. Jay arrived at the hospital and recorded Sandra handcuffed to the bar and the injection, as well as Officer Staub, who was guarding her. He convinced Staub to release Sandra and then he and Sandra ran to find Carlos, who was about to get his scan. They were able to prevent it.[12]

Espionage CaseEdit

She was assigned to the case of Alice Huang, who was accused of sharing classified information with the Chinese. Sandra met with Alice, who said that she was merely sharing data she didn't have access to in an attempt to advance science, as the person she shared it with was also a scientist. Sandra knew it looked bad for her client, especially since the jury wouldn't understand what exactly she shared, so she wanted a bench trial. Jill told her that was not a good idea and said to find a way to make the jury understand if she was worried they wouldn't. She put a former FBI agent on the stand to explain that nothing she shared would jeopardize national security. Celia Chavez tried to make the case that Alice was still a spy and starting off with mundane tasks. A co-worker then testified that it wasn't uncommon to share passwords and it was never a problem until Alice did it. Another witness testified to sharing the same information with the Norwegian government and received an accommodation instead of prosecution. Alice was found not guilty.[13]


Sandra is the type of person to argue with everyone and everything. In fact, she lost leverage in a case because of this. She is always the first person to arrive to the office. Sandra shows an astounding amount of ambition as well. She offered to do duty although she did not know what it entailed. She seems to respect and empathize with others as well. She is loyal and demands total loyalty in return.




Her father used to make her Eggos the morning before every test, all the way through law school.[14]


Allison AdamsEdit

Allison is Sandra's best friend, roommate, and colleague. They met in the front row of Torts on the first day of law school.[15]


Jill CarlanEdit

Jill is the Federal Public Defender overseeing the newest lawyers in her department.


Sandra is a federal public defender in the Southern District of New York.

Prior to joining the FDP's office, Sandra served as a law clerk to the Honorable Dane F. Levens of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California and the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Sandra obtained her undergraduate degree from The University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, she then obtained a J.D from Yale Law School. She also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal and President for the Project for Law and Education. While at Yale, Sandra volunteered at a non-profit workers' rights organization where she advised clients in disputes over housing and tenants' rights in rural areas. Sandra also represented families in adoption and foster benefits proceedings as part of the school's trial advocacy program. She was a teaching fellow for the MacGuire-Brennan Project, worked as a research assistant for Professor Irene D. Harper, and was a Board Member at the Legal Services Clinic.

She has gained admission to the bar in California and New York.

Notes and TriviaEdit

  • The character was originally named Sandra Black and portrayed by Britne Oldford, but the character was renamed and recast after the pilot was ordered to series.
  • She always wakes up hungry.[16]
  • Her e-mail address is sbell@fpdsdny.[17]
  • Her phone number is (212) 555-0125.[18]
  • She hates hospitals.[19]
  • She watches a lot of SportsCenter.[20]


A more complete gallery with pictures of Sandra Bell can be found here.

Notable EpisodesEdit

The following episode are Sandra-centric or are otherwise very informative about her life:

Memorable QuotesEdit