A family drama focused on three generations of women living together in Hartford, Connecticut. Amy Brenneman plays Amy Gray, who left New York City behind and now works as a family court judge. Karle Warren plays Lauren, Amy's daughter; Tyne Daly is Maxine, Amy's tough, opinionated mother.
Maxine tempers her frustrations over her daughter-in-law's outlandish plans for the Gray-Duff nuptuals after Peter tells his mother about Gillian's refusal to face their new baby's condition; Stu's plans for a romantic dinner to celebrate the rekindling of his relationship with Amy are derailed by an obnoxious couple at the next table; Kyle discovers why Lily has been treating him so poorly; after Amy hears the case of a pro-cannabis couple threatened with losing custody of their son after he brings a joint to school, she has a talk with Lauren about drugs; Maxine investigates when a man asserts that his ex-wife has been cheating on the drug tests required as a condition of her retaining custody of their daughter; Amy has conflicting emotions after she reads the Judge Gray tribute page on Donna's blog.
Amy hears the case of a young boy charged with obstruction of justice for not revealing the name of the man who took pornographic pictures of him; Maxine contends with a woman who allows her abusive husband to violate a restraining order; Peter and Charles negotiate a prenuptial agreement for their parents; Jason Lobdel eludes Amy's police protection as he continues to stalk her; everyone walks on eggshells as Gillian suffers through ugly hormonal mood swings; Jared gives Maxine the diner; Amy's plan to censure an attorney backfires.
After pleas from Maxine and Peter, Amy takes the first step in mending fences with Vincent; back in town with a new job working in the prosecutor's office, Stu Collins has a near-fatal heart attack after a verbal altercation with Amy, who is unable to contact any of his friends or family; Maxine tries to help a couple who cannot agree about giving up the special needs child they adopted, but is unable to avert the tragic outcome of their dilemma; the teenage son of a mobster appears in Amy's court for setting a fire which destroyed a store and maimed an employee after an argument with the store's owner; on the road to recovery, Stu confesses to Amy that he's had a crush on her for years; Amy and Bruce test the boundaries of their relationship.
Amy finds herself in the middle of a love triangle when she considers giving Tom Gillette a second chance while she continues to date Rob; Maxine investigates the case of a boy from a seemingly perfect family who is going deaf; Amy tries to adopt a dog.
Amy hears a manslaughter case involving a 15-year-old boy who's into goth and accused of luring a girl into a mutual suicide pact; Maxine investigates allegations that a boy is being neglected by his mother; Gillian meets a man she's been corresponding with via the Internet.
After she's released from the hospital with a clean bill of health, Gillian reveals that she had a near-death experience during Walt's delivery, but can't seem to find anyone who believes her; when Amy claims that she has no time to organize the wedding, Stu volunteers to make all the arrangements; tragedy occurs when Maxine's pleas to the police to publicize the disappearance of a foster child fall on deaf ears; it's apparent that there's no love lost between Stu and David when they end up at the same cocktail party; Kyle and Lily have an intense encounter in a hospital elevator; Amy's frustration with the difference between the criminal and juvenile court systems increases as the Hawkins trial concludes; Kyle is unsuccessful in his attempt to get Lily to change her mind about moving to New York.
Amy gets to know Rob, Lauren's very attractive sensei, better when he brings Lauren home from class after Amy has forgotten to pick her up; Maxine finds some powerful allies in her quest to open a facility devoted to helping victims of child abuse; Amy enlists other judges to volunteer their free time to finalize long-delayed adoptions; Donna becomes depressed when Oscar reveals that he is guilty of his mother's murder; Amy is asked to decide whether an exorcism is in the best interests of a young girl; Jared refuses to let Maxine push him away; Amy reluctantly hires Rob's niece as Lauren's new babysitter.
Representing the governor, Stuart Collins offers Amy a chance to apply for an appellate court appointment if she'll rule against two women who both want to be named as the mother on their baby's birth certificate; Maxine's friend Vivian gets to see social work in action when her girls-day-out with Maxine gets derailed by a struggling and overworked farmer who believes that his kids should be at home working on the family dairy farm rather than at school; a mourning Gillian finds solace from an online support group when Peter offers her none; Vincent becomes concerned about his finances when he learns that Carole has quite a nest egg; Amy apologizes to Rob, and they reconcile.
Maxine reunites a couple with their kidnapped baby; Vincent is upset when Carole usurps his prerogative to tell his family about their move in his own way and time by blurting out the news over family dinner, while Amy is downright angry at her brother's decision; when she learns that he's been granted an appeal, Donna can't face serving Oscar with divorce papers herself; Amy watches helplessly as a mother whose custody petition she denied takes drastic measures to protest Amy's decision.
Amy oversees an emotional case involving a 13-year-old boy with a history of violent behavior who shot and killed his grandfather who was suffering from terminal lung cancer; Maxine uncovers a human smuggling operation while following up on a report of a young boy being beaten numerous times; Vincent witnesses the gunning down of a prostitute by her pimp; Meanwhile, Amy and David search for the perfect house to start their life together in.
Amy presides over the case of a prominent athletic star accused of rape. Maxine, feeling the pressure to find a new place to live, considers selling the diner. Kyle tries to locate a kidney for a young patient who needs a transplant. Stu and Amy still can't come to terms on where to go for their honeymoon, with their wedding only a month away.
Amy is as shocked as Lauren is pleased to learn of Michael and Leisha's impending wedding; sensing that Maxine has reservations about their relationship, Jared suggests that they take some time away from each other in order to gain a little perspective; Vincent is attracted to a producer he meets when he's invited to read his short stories on the radio; Amy must decide if an alcoholic mother responsible for the death of her daughter has recovered enough to regain custody of her son and retain custody of her unborn child; Maxine is distressed when the state's attorney declines to file charges in the Roseland case; Bruce unhappily assents when Mia suggests that Rebecca spend more time with her in New York; Amy hears the case of a divorcing couple fighting over frequent flyer miles.
Felled by the flu, Amy collapses in court, but not before presiding over a custody hearing for a cow; long-buried feelings erupt between Gillian and Peter when Evie offers to return Ned; Amy's caseload has more of an effect on her temporary replacement than he expected; after Sean grounds her to desk duty for taking wannabee gangbangers on an unauthorized field trip to the local I.C.U. which draws outcries from their parents, Maxine decides not to ask him for a few days off to accompany Jared on a business trip to China; Carole accepts a job offer in San Francisco and asks Vincent to come with her; Sean supports Maxine when Jared's plane is reported missing; the Gray family rejoices when both Ned and Jared are returned to them safely.
Amy must decide whether a teenager is responsible for the death of an infant she was babysitting; Maxine investigates an abuse case at the home of a disabled veteran and his adopted granddaughter; Kyle is torn between keeping his lucrative job as a pharmaceutical rep or accepting a residency at a low-ranked hospital; Amy has an alarm system installed in the house as her stalker escalates his harassment; Maxine and Peter are at odds after Maxine attributes Peter's promotion within the ranks of a Revolutionary War reenactment group to the publicity surrounding her engagement to Jared.
Amy, Bruce, Lauren, Sean and Maxine rally around Eric as he goes on trial before an eccentric but wise judge; Maxine takes issue with Eric on a question of ethics about his testimony which colors her reaction to his verdict; after Zola breaks up with her boyfriend, she unsuccessfully resists Bruce's efforts to woo her; Kyle is faced with a medical and ethical dilemma when his patient's routine problem takes an inexplicable and tragic turn; Eric tells Maxine about a new person in his life; Heather and Kyle grow closer.
Maxine and Jared move up their wedding date, to the consternation of their children; Peter's plans for a classy bachelor party go awry, but the men manage to have a good time at a less highbrow establishment as they convince a greatly under-the-influence Bruce to call Zola and ask her for a date; Maxine's hen party is much more sedate, but Maxine manages to work out an escape plan nonetheless; Amy presides over a hearing to determine if four teenage boys accused of drugging and raping a teenage girl should be tried as adults; after Charles announces that he's quit his job, Jared is forced to return to China and reschedule the wedding, and Amy lets Charles know that it's not in his best interest to interfere with Maxine's happiness; Maxine's efforts to keep Eric's case in juvenile court are successful.
As the Gray family tries to cope with the aftermath of the explosion, Maxine cuts back on her workload to help Vincent through his difficult recovery, while Amy realizes that she's still harboring resentment towards Vincent for putting himself in danger to save her life; Gillian takes a forceful approach to Maxine's avoiding Ned; Amy hires an attorney to counter Ian's accusations; Maxine ducks Jared's calls on Edward's birthday; Amy's new C.S.O. is everything that Bruce is not; Vincent's reluctance to leave the hospital causes him to conceal his progress from his family; after telling Bruce to lighten his docket, Judge Salinger is displeased to discover that Bruce has transferred a case to Amy hoping that she will render a more just ruling for a young boy caught in a bureaucratic morass; Sean urges Maxine to get back to work by taking on several sexual abuse cases from the same preschool; Amy refuses to allow a severely depressed mother who is grief-stricken over the recent death of he
Stuart Collins returns from Sri Lanka reincarnated as a criminal defense attorney eager to take on Eric's case and renew his romance with Amy; Peter and Gillian hear unsettling news about the potential health of their unborn child; Maxine and Sean work together to create the best possible placement for a young Sudanese refugee; a father petitions Amy for legal custody of his 14 year old daughter after her mother allows her to drop out of school and pursue a full-time career as a pop star with an over-sexualized and age-inappropriate image.
Amy finds herself fending off Nick's advances and agonizes over whether she should tell Lolly; Maxine assists a detective in tracking down an undocumented Cambodian boy's parents; Amy rules on a case involving a teenager who refuses to attend school after the principal discontinues the gay pride club on campus.
Amy and Michael face off in court, and the resolution of their custody battle reveals yet another unsavory aspect of Michael's character; Kyle counsels a mother who struggles over a DNR order for her critically ill son; after Amy and Sean each confront her about Eric, Maxine visits him in jail to hear his story of the night Jason died.
Evie walks back into Ned's life just as Peter and Gillian are set to adopt him; Maxine deals with a young girl who wants to be adopted before her 18th birthday, and a 12-year-old boy who refuses to be adopted because he believes his birth mother will come back one day.
Amy presides over the custody hearing of a boy whose mother died in the collapse of the World Trade Center; an old friend offers Kyle a job with a pharmaceutical company, and Maxine counteroffers with the job of heading the Center; Amy relandscapes her new home and accidently throws out Ethel, the antique heirloom rosebush Maxine's grandmother brought over from Ireland in 1889; after initially spurning her offer, Bruce agrees to speak at Zola's press conference for convicted felons; and Maxine helps Sean over some rough spots as Eric's foster father.
Amy's ruling in the case of a teenager who called in a bomb scare to avoid a test is complicated by the arrival of an I.N.S. agent who's ready to deport the boy to Afghanistan, and almost certain death, if he's found guilty; Eric saves Lauren from being kidnapped by Jason; Gillian's raging hormones leave Peter exhausted as she goes into overdrive about the plans for Maxine's wedding; Kimberly blackmails Sean into getting her job back in exchange for helping Maxine find an endangered teenager who's aged out of the system; Kyle defies hospital protocol to give a dying woman her last wish; Eric ends Jason's stalking with tragic finality.
Peter and Gillian lose custody of Ned to Evie; Peter tries to drown his grief in alcohol and is arrested for drunk driving; Gillian fixates on Peter's drinking to avoid dealing with her loss; Amy must rule on the future of an unborn baby after learning that the mother is under investigation for the disappearance of her first child; Maxine and Sadie investigate the strange case of a woman who thinks she's a holly bush; Vincent and Carol attend her parents' 30th wedding anniversary party; Bruce loses his cool when he mediates a dispute over a teenager's plastic surgery.
Amy contends with a high profile attorney who attempts to bully her during a paternity case; Maxine struggles over mending fences with a neighbor; Vincent's near-death experience gives him a sense of fearlessness that gets him into trouble with Len; Peter questions his ability to raise a biracial child after he ignores a collegue's racist remarks; Maxine continues her investigation into sexual abuse at a preschool; Amy and Lolly take a self-defense course together.