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    Changing of the Order on SVU

    The Law & Order universe is seeking another Special prosecutor.  

    Diane Neal, who has played Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on L&O: SVU since 2003, is leaving after this season, a rep for the show told TVGuide.com on Tuesday.

    Her last episode will be next month's season finale. 

    "Diane spent five years on SVU and was a tremendous addition to the SVU team," the rep said. "She is looking forward to new opportunities and she will be missed."

    Neal, who before joining the good guys appeared in an earlier episode as one of several female friends accused of raping a male stripper, came on board after the series' first ADA, played by Stephanie March, had to hightail it into the Witness Protection Program after declaring war on a drug cartel. 

    And while she presumably won't have to fake her own death the way Alexandra Cabot did, Casey Novak hasn't had a particularly easy time of it, either.

    The petite brunette exits stage left after having survived a savage beating carried out in her own office; merciless badgering at the hands of defense attorneys, judges and, at times, the resident SVU detectives; and, as viewers found out in season seven, a schizophrenic boyfriend who she was forced to break up with after he turned violent. 

    No replacement has been named, but franchise creator Dick Wolf is reportedly looking for an up-and-comer to fill the high-profile void, per TV Guide

    In a nearby precinct, meanwhile, longtime L&O mothership fixture Jesse L. Martin is closing in on his final episode, airing April 23. Former SVU guest star Anthony Anderson will be stepping in to partner up with Jeremy Sisto's Detective Cyrus Lupo.

    SVU's first new episode since the writers' strike forced scripted series into repeats airs tonight on NBC.

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