Criminal Law (1988) - full transcript

A rising young attorney successfully defends a man accused of murder, only to have the same type of murder then happen again. Right away the previously defended man hires the attorney again, and although the attorney is quite certain that he is the killer, he agrees to again defend him... much to the consternation of his friends. However, he explains that by being his attorney he will be better able to catch the man in a mistake... and on this the rest of the film develops, with the killer playing a cat and mouse game with the attorney until, at last, they both must recognize that they are not all that different. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
Okay, keep it moving.
Keep it moving.

We all wanna
get home tonight. Okay.

Okay, down the alley and turn right.

Come on. You're clear.

Come on. Keep coming.

That's it. Right there.

This was a horrible crime.

A tragedy for those involved.

A terrifying enigma to us
who view the aftermath.

I don't even know how such things happen.

But if we did not have a responsibility

to see justice done, we would look away.

For to comprehend such an act
would be to plunge

into the darkest waters of the human heart.

Fortunately, our task here is much simpler.

It is as simple and as clear as,


It is as simple and as clear

as this glass

of pure water.

In order to prevent another tragedy,

the destruction of yet another life,

you need only decide whether the right
man stands accused of the crime.

Now to help you with that decision,

I will show you.

I will show you that the prosecution's case

rests almost entirely
on eyewitness identification.

Well, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Eyewitness identification.

But in the course of this trial,
I will demonstrate something

that the prosecution will not mention.

That eyewitness identification is generally

the most unreliable form of evidence.

And that this particular
identification is totally unreliable.

So that when we are done here,

your decision will be perfectly,




Disposable diapers?


I picked up some orange
juice while I was there.

For breakfast, you know. Yeah,
but you went for diapers.

At that hour?

Yes. I needed them
right away.


Objection, Your Honor.

If Mr. Chase doesn't know why a
mother would need diapers...

Mr. Chase, you are coming to a
relevant point, are you not?

Mrs. Monroe,

don't you usually buy them
before you need them?

Yes, but I ran out.
I could have sworn...

I mean, I was sure I saw them
in the hall closet, but I...


I was wrong.

You were wrong

about something as familiar

and recognizable as
a box of your baby's diapers.

But you are absolutely sure
you are not wrong

about a man you saw for one moment

through the rain, across the street,

in the poor light at the head of an alley?

Your honor, I object to this
entire line of questioning.

There is no connection

between the witness' inventory of diapers

and her identification of the defendant.


Mr. Chase,
do you wish to rephrase

the question regarding the identification?

No, Your Honor.

That's all.

The witness may step down.

We will adjourn until
tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M.

Members of the jury, do not discuss
this case among yourselves.

Good evening.

Why is the district attorney like a diaper?

Because they're both full of shit.

This is very funny.

I'm going to owe my freedom
to disposable diapers.

And to you.

I'll give it to you tomorrow.

Just be sure you leave
the flap on the envelope loose

so it's easy to open, okay.

Yeah, good.

Yeah, I'll meet you a half an hour early

and we'll run through it once more.

Yeah, okay.
See you then. Yeah, bye.

I don't know about you.

You've asked for two adjournments already.

Morning, Jean.

That good?

We're supposed to hold this kid...

I came to look at you.

You used to be a good prosecutor.

So now I'm a good defender.
I just switched teams.

Is this about the eyewitness?

We did the ID procedure by the book.

She was sure all the way.
She's still sure.

I thought that meant something.

Yeah, it did mean something.
It was the point to win.

So, you think the jury doubts her?

Yeah, me, too.

I can't take any chances.

Come in and watch.


She sees the body every time
she tells her story.

So do I.

Me, too.

I saw the pictures.

You saw the pictures.

Come on, Jean.
You know better than that.

How can you be certain she saw my client,

not somebody who looks a lot like him?

Certain enough to be judge,
jury and executioner?

You're just pissed

because your marbles got knocked out of
the game. We're not playing marbles.

A woman was raped and butchered, remember?

And I'm not even sure which came first.


I got a job to do.

So do I.

The last witness for the defense is Mr.
Hobart Jackson.

Please raise your right hand.

Do you swear to tell the truth,

the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,

so help you God?
I do.

State and spell your name for the record.

Hobart Jackson.

Mr. Jackson,

the crime in question here was committed

on the night of September 12th of last year.

Now, where were you on that day?

In the State Penitentiary at Cradduck.

And why were you there?

I was serving a life sentence for murder.

Your honor, if this man was
incarcerated at the time of the crime,

I don't see the relevancy...

Cut to the point,
Mr. Chase.

You were tried, convicted
and sentenced to life.

Life without possibility of parole.

But you're a free man now?

Yeah. They got the right guy.

This guy.

Your honor, this is an outrage.

The eyewitness was wrong about me.

I move that it be stricken.

Mr. Chase,
this is highly irregular.

Well, I got off with a warning.


I thought you were gonna be in here with me.

It was worth the risk.
Well calculated, obviously.

I'm fascinated by all this.

I thought about law school once.

A long time ago. It's a good
thing I decided against it.

I couldn't do what you do.

It's more perspiration than inspiration.

I couldn't deal with all the
rules, all the technicalities.

But you really do love it, don't you?

Well, it beats lifting heavy objects.

Nice going.

We did it, by God, we did it.

That is, you did it.

It helps to have an intelligent client.

You handled it very well.

You had a strong case.

Well, that's the kind that counts.

Thank you, Mr. Chase.

I'm very grateful.

My pleasure.

Thank you, Ben.


How does it feel to have
somebody say that to you?

Average. It happens
all the time.

Good morning, Isabel.

Did you behave yourself last night?

No, I did not.

I was as drunk as a skunk.

Me, too.

Way to go, kid.

Good morning, Isabel.

Another one.

I don't have anything for you yet.

The case of the bagel bandit.

Alleged bagel bandit, Claudia.

Now this thing is over,
I want to tell you again

how much help you were.

So, now's a good time to hit
you up about a pro bono case?


The defendant's name's Potter.

The charge is assault with a deadly weapon.

He has a record, but he says
this was a fair fight.

The other guy claims Potter attacked him.

Go to it.

It may take a fair bit of my time.

And I want full responsibility.

Heh, you want to try the real thing?

It'll blow your love life all to hell.

You should know.

Full responsibility doesn't
mean I don't want any advice.

Crime, according to an independent survey

commissioned by US law enforcement
agencies, is on the upswing.

Statistics, compiled by
a group of criminologists

from several American universities,
show that crimes of violence

have almost doubled in number
in the past five years.

Law enforcers have been calling both

at the local and national level

for more personnel and more
sophisticated weapons.

On the local crime blotter, police
authorities issued a warning today

to women in the Westfield area

where a brutal murder occurred last night.

A spokesman said indications
of a possible serial killer

included the probability
that the victim was raped,

mutilation of the body, and
an additional bizarre touch.

She had been gagged
with a disposable diaper.

Now this...

The human eye focuses faster.

With Minolta Maxxum you even get

unexpected shots that would have...

have no leads yet in last night's murder

of 29-year-old Phylis Gilder
in Westfield.

Certain aspects of the case, however,

suggest that a serial killer may be at work.

And police tonight issued a warning
to women in the neighborhood...

AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Doctors from several states

have petitioned the Surgeon General's office

to release fact sheets...

Mr. Fischer?


I'm Ben Chase.


You play hard.


I've admired your work for a long time.

I've learned a lot from your cases.

It shows.

I've got too many cases.

Challenging, precedent
setting, important cases.

When you get tired of being
a big frog in a little pond,

you give me a call.




Ben, I need you.

What do you mean?

I thought about you last week

when the news reports mentioned the diaper.

Martin, what do you want?

I want to retain you.

I think I'm about to continue
my education in criminal law.

You mean you're under investigation
in that Westfield case?

No. Not yet.

Meet me in the park at River Point
at 11:00 at the picnic area.

Tonight? Are you nuts? It's pouring.
This can't wait.






Anybody home! Hello! Hello,
please, I have to talk to you.

Who is it?

I have to use your phone.

Please, this, this is an emergency.

What emergency?

I just... There's a woman
been murdered!

She's been murdered in the park.

Please. Please... No!

Shut up.

I have to use your phone.
Just get the phone.

Just a second. There's one right here.
Dial 911.

Let me do that.

Tell them it's a woman.

She's been murdered.



In the park.

She's a Caucasian.

In her early 20s.

Very long black hair.
Or dark, anyway.


Miss Falkner said the victim
left for the night shift

at her usual time.
10:15, 10:20.

She left her car in the usual place.

Now, you pulled up here
about 10:55.

That's about 40 minutes later.

And we need to fill in that time.

Now, what about the man walking his dog?

Running. Running with
his dog. That's all.

Was the man black or white?

White, I think.

You think?

It was dark.
Raining, you know.

How the hell should I know.

Was he tall or short?

I... I didn't notice.

Well, he probably lives around here.

What's his dog look like?
I mean, roughly.

I don't know.

Like a German Shepherd,
or more like a poodle?

For Christ's sake!
It was a peeing dog!

I don't know.
Stake out the lamppost!

I've done worse, Chase.

You any better on cars?

Any parked near here when you arrived?

There... there were two
over there.

The VW was there, right? Yeah.

What'd the other one look like?

Bigger, darker.

That's it? Bigger. Darker.

Well, that's great.

Do you know when they left?

I wasn't looking.

I was thinking about that girl.


Let's go over there.
The girl's gone.

Get over here, will you?
We need somebody

who can drive the goddamn thing.

Last week, I heard about a
woman murdered in Westfield.

She was also gagged with a diaper.

The report said mutilated.

Was she burned?


This is madness.

But there was some method, maybe.

The burning obliterated any
pubic hairs, traces of semen.

The autopsy probably won't
even prove she was raped.

Let alone provide identifying evidence.

You're pretty sure she was raped.

Come on, Mesel.

We both know about cases like this.

More or less.

I know why Carl's here,
and I know why I'm here.

He found the body.

I've got one more question for you

you kind of skipped over it before.

What were you doing here?

Taking a walk.

I used to jog here.

I like it.

In the rain?
11:00 at night?

And why'd you keep checkin' your watch?

I don't know.

Doesn't seem to be a whole hell
of a lot you do know, is there?


it would please me mightily
to see you sweat for once.

And you will.

You will if you don't start remembering
something useful real quick.


Here. Give me a hand, and we'll
let Peggy get back to work.

He's a hard master.

You're telling me.

You're giving these away?

Your collection of quotations?

"I hate quotations.

"Tell me what you know."

"The power of the quotation"

"is as dreadful a weapon as any which"

"the human intellect
can forge."


I don't need weapons anymore.

I'm disarming.

Besides, some of these books can't
be much good, they quote me.

I quote you all the time.

It's the only immortality.

Remember when I told you
I was going into defense?

You said it was a lot
tougher than prosecution.

Instead of just trying to get the bad guys,

I'd have to defend all sorts of people.

Some with very dirty hands.

I was never afraid of disillusionment.

I enjoyed the game too much.

Sometimes I worried about burning out.

Not about my conscience.

I always thought I was so damn smart.

You are.

I never held it against you.

Now I'm going to do something
that's not so smart.

We were meant to act,
even if we make mistakes.

That's why we put a sharp point on a pencil

and why we put an eraser on the other end.

This might be indelible.

There's no other course of action
that will satisfy your conscience?


Then you don't need the advice
of an old man in a library.

Who said that?
About the pencil?

I did. Just now.

It'll be in here next edition.

What do you think of her?

It's beautiful.

A bit cramped for me, maybe.

It's like a little island.

Even in the shadow of the
city, a boat is very private.

Away from everything.

You should try it.
You can afford it.

It may take several generations

to work up a full appreciation of boats.

I've only got as far as the snazzy car.

You should come out with me sometime.

I'm sorry about last night.


The police gave you a hard time.

You could've just left. You know,
you didn't have to call them.

I think I did.

But I didn't tell them why I was there.

Well, they'll come to me anyway.

I need a good lawyer.

Even innocent people need good lawyers.

The price has gone up.

The retainer is twice what it was last time.

Don't disappoint me, Ben.
This isn't about money.

Take my professional advice, Martin.

You should formalize our relationship.

It's got a few spots on it.

They'll cash it anyway.

Wait till you taste the basting sauce.

That's my secret.

What we say here is between
attorney and client.

I can't reveal it.

So my recipe is safe.

Anything you tell me.

I need to know why you're taking this case.

It's important to me to know
what people really care about.

I think I can win.

So far, I don't see they have a case.

Is that all that
matters to you? Winning?

Aren't you interested in justice?

There's no system of law that
guarantees the correct result.

My job is to use the system we
have for the benefit of my client.

That's admirable, but rather narrow.

Well, my friend, I am interested in justice.

My job is not advocate.

It's avenger.

Anyway, you're right.

I have an alibi. They're not
gonna find any evidence.

And no one saw me there.

Not even me.

Not even you.

Yes, you want the number?

It's okay.

Been to Alaska?

A couple of times.
I'd like to retire there

today. Yeah, yeah, yeah, tough day, boy.

I spent the morning talking to cops.

Especially that one from Sex Offenses.

Boy, she really got me going.

You know, I told her not only
everything I know about Janet,

but everything I know about myself.

She's good. Yeah, she's good. She is good.

I'm here because of something they told me.

The guy from Homicide told me, actually.

I thought you were just
some innocent passerby.

Some... Some... Some loon who
liked to walk in the rain.

And I really thought you were
upset at what you found.

So, I was kind of surprised
to hear you're a lawyer

who just tried a case,
a whole lot like this one.

That the number one suspect is a
man you put back on the street.

Here's another surprise.

As of an hour ago,
I'm representing him again.

Actually, that doesn't surprise me one bit.

I thought I was angry

but I'm just sick.

So long, scumsucker!

Let me out of here! No!

Now, listen to me! You listen to me! No!

Okay, come over here and
listen to me for one minute!

One minute.

For Janet's sake!

Goddamn it!
Give me a chance.

You're sick?

I just ate lunch with the son of a
bitch who did that thing last night.

He did it?
Yes, damn it! He did it!

He did it last year, last week, last night

and he will do it again soon,
if he isn't stopped!

I'm representing him again, so I can
find something that'll hang him.

Wait a second.

You worked with this guy
all the way through a trial.

You went over all the evidence,

and you never got a hint he did it?

You were totally clueless?

It is not my job as an attorney
to look into his heart.

What about as a human being?


Why did he get you out there?

I wish to Christ I knew.

And what makes you think

you can get something the police can't?

Eventually, he'll say too much.

How many lives does "eventually" equal?

That's not fair.

None of it's fair.

Did Janet know Doreen Clark
or Phylis Gilder?

Mesel asked me that.

They're the others, right?

No, she never mentioned them.

I just moved back to town.

We've been friends since we were kids.

While I was away, she
inherited her parents' house

and it seemed perfect for the two of us.

So, a couple of months ago...

God, was it just last night?

I know.

If you think of anything
at all, call me, okay?

I'm trying to play!

Stop it.

Get down. Right away, do you hear me?

It's also painted, so that it's easy to spot

with the words "Police" in big letters.

That's so you can find it fast
when you need it.

The same is also true about the men
and women inside the police cars.

Don't let their uniforms scare you.

They wear a special uniform,
because they do a special job.

But they're ordinary people.

There's one thing you must remember:

Policemen and women...


Why don't you come back in about 10 years?

You're talking about an attorney
selling his client down the river.

I'm talking hypothetically.

He won't be
an attorney long. Maybe.

But he's going ahead anyway.

He's got an inside line
that can't be wasted.

Hold it.

This lawyer is also a potential witness.
He found the body.

He'll be challenged.

But his testimony's not essential

and his client has a right
to counsel of choice.

While that's being sorted out,

the lawyer could find something definitive.

Slip it to the cops anonymously.

Carl said you get a copy of this.

I'll have the set of pictures for you later.

All right. Thanks, Eddie.

Your hero's pretty dumb if he tries
to do police work on his own.

He could use some help

from someone who really wants
the bastard stopped.

So, now you're gonna be
judge, jury and executioner?

Well, keep trying.

Okay. What do you got,
not hypothetically?

He called me out there and
instead of him, I found her.

That's it.

And the minute I say that,
on the record, I'm out of it.

Inviting me, was a test.

And mentioning him means failing.

That would be the game right there.

Games again.

Well, he certainly picked
the right guy to play with.

It's the only way I can make
something out of this shit.

Are you playing or not?


Dr. Thiel won't be
much longer.


Mr. Chase

my son doesn't allow anyone in his room,

let alone his closet.

I'm sorry.

It's such an extraordinary room...


I haven't been in here since he built it.

Martin did this himself?

We'll talk upstairs.

This is exactly the kind
of thing I need to know about

if I'm going to defend him again.
Defend him?

Nothing's happened.

The police asked me about
last night, that's all.

No matter what they told you, Mrs.
Thiel, he's in serious trouble,

very serious and I can't
help him unless you help me.

Mr. Thiel should've come
to the trial.

He'll have to show support... There's
not going to be another trial.

As I have told you, Martin's father
prefers the house on the island

and his dogs.

His son was on trial for his life.

Simon thinks only the Thiels
can judge the Thiels.

Or anything else, for that matter.

How does Martin get along with him?

Better than anyone else.

It can't have been easy.

We fought about which came first:

Medical school for me or an
heir to the family name.

The wound never healed.

Maybe that explains Martin's resistance

to marriage or anything near it.

He's really Martin Thiel IV, you know.

I doubt there'll be a fifth.

What about last night?

I was in the file room, working late.

As you can see, if he'd
come out of the basement,

I would've known.

Who's this?

He's one of the Thiels, the first Martin.

We call him "the pirate."

He built this house.

The family always had money?

He's the one who made them wealthy.

There was some question as to his means,

rumors of smuggling and so on.

Goodbye, Mr. Chase.

I'll be in touch.

I hope that won't be necessary.

I've been waiting for you.

Score one for Ben.

You were right about my alibi.

You should've told me about this.

You did a fine job on your own.

So will the cops...

Yeah, maybe shit.

They're pros.

You're not gonna hide a goddamn
secret passage forever

and you can't dispose of a tunnel.

This isn't conclusive.

It's just something I found,

and played around with for a while.

Yeah, and what else are they gonna find?

Someday you'll know all my secrets.

I wonder if we'll still be friends.

Well, well, look at that.

Chase, is your client being
questioned in the Westfield case?

Mr. Chase, is there
another eyewitness?

Mr. Chase, what about Phylis Gilder?
Is there any connection?

Well, well, look who's here,

Where's Stillwell?

Well, it's funny you should ask.

Tony, where's Jean?

Out somewhere.

Like the man says, "Out."
But don't let me stop you.

You've got to get that crazy murderer out

on the street again, free as a bird.

You've got someone to watch.
What more do you want?

What I want for your friend
would amaze and sicken you.

Just prove he did it.

I'm gettin' there.

Just found what you might
call "a hole in his alibi."

Mesel, I warn you. Don't take this
to court yet. You'll lose him.

You will lose.

Look, I've had it with you.

First, you stand over a barbecued
body, and you tell me a story

that my sweet old mother wouldn't piss on.

And now you're representing
the man I think did it,

the same man you defended
before on the same charge.

He was defended in a fair
trial, he was acquitted.

That case is irrelevant.
Mesel, you have to keep up.

Irrelevant, immaterial, inadmissible!


What the fuck happened?

Come on. Take it easy.

First, tell me what took you so long?

I had to enumerate every good
deed your ancestors ever did,

not to mention every piece
of property the family owns.

What about my reputation? I was a
model prisoner last time around.

Last time around was not
an argument in your favor.

They're gonna be watching
you closer than ever.

Can't you argue harassment or something?

- I'll do everything possible.
- Just go out to the island

stay away from everybody, and sit tight.

For how long?

They can afford to wait.

There's no statute of limitations on murder.

Somebody doused the place
with gas from a lawn mower.

Did a very thorough job.

Took it right down
to the mouth of the tunnel...

Look, I don't care if it was a
proficient, painstaking pyromaniac.

Why last night?

And only the two of us knew
how sensitive it was.

You're the one that's got to do it.

I got to stay here.


I didn't burn that pavilion.

I know, I did.

We really are partners now.

What charge...

Mr. Chase, I'd like
to ask your client:

Do you have anything to say
about last night's fire?

My attorney will make
a statement. Ben.

I'm glad you're here. The
people have a right to know

how police harassment can grow from
a simple case of mistaken identity.

How a law-abiding citizen
who happened once to be

in the wrong place at the wrong time,

must suffer repeated
attacks on his reputation.

Mesel got an anonymous
phone call last night.

It seems that firemen were swarming
all over the Thiels' backyard.

Temporarily and legitimately
breaching their privacy.

Don't get ahead of me.

The tip was that the fire would reveal

something relevant to the murder.

But the call came in late,

and when Mesel got there,
the firemen were gone.

Re-establishing Martin's
right to privacy.

Mesel was excited.

Maybe he was thinking
exigent circumstances...

Maybe he wasn't thinking at all.

Drink your milk.


Mesel found the tunnel

and he went through it
to Martin Thiel's room.

He what?

I know.

Hey, why not?

Once he searched their property

and found the tunnel without a warrant,

anything in the tunnel could be excluded.

Yeah, that's what Parks tells us.

Parks, hell.

You wouldn't have
stepped into this, would you?

I wasn't there.

Mesel thinks he was suckered, by you.

I wish.

I can't hold him back, Ben.

He's going to Parks

and he's asking that you get
disqualified from the case

because you're a material witness.

Well, Parks won't do that on his own hoof.

It'll take a few days at least.


Meanwhile, we're back to square one.

Minus one, no, minus two.

The alibi's out of it, and now
Mesel's trying to put me out of it.

Hasn't he got anything better to do?

Organically grown,

no artificial fertilizers,
and no pesticides.

No, thanks.

This guy, he's developing
a style as he goes.

Gagging them with a diaper before,

burning them with a blow-torch after...

It's no more amazing than
raping and killing them.

But he works clean, Ben.

He hasn't left us a thing to go on

except bodies in the rain,

always in the goddamn rain.

I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean
to frighten you.

I did call the house first.

How'd you find me?

I've got connections.

So, you're a photo editor.
Not exactly...

What the hell do you care?

What do you want?

Can I give you a ride?

All right,

Mesel's gonna come to you
with questions about me.

He already has.
I kept your crazy secret.

I'll be damned if I know
why I should help you

pussyfoot around that son of a bitch,

when the only thing that makes any
sense is to blow the bastard away!

You think this is the way I want it?

This is the way it is and I
can't fucking believe it!

I'm hanging on because sooner or later

he'll let me see something! Me and only me!

I don't know, some little thing!
And then I'll nail him!

It won't bring her back.

Nothing's going to bring her back.

They had that animal locked up,

and I let him out to kill again.

Every time the phone rings,

every time the news comes on,

I hold my breath.

I'll take you home.

How about getting something to eat?

Can't leave the dog too long.

She's gotten really neurotic
since Janet just walked out

and never came back.

We could eat here, with the dog.

With the dog?


Right, I'll cook something.


Hey, just stand back and watch.

Messy, but necessary.

First you scrub away
the scum, then you purify.

You didn't come out here
to see me scrape paint.

I came to see what you really care about.

Come on, then.

This is Fancy.

She was disqualified for
shows, so now she's my crew.

Looks fine to me.

She looks fine to me, too.

Standards don't allow enough for character.

They're so stupid.

I could lose them in half an hour here.

Slip into these reeds and turn up anywhere.

You just said you love it out here.

Don't play lawyers' games with me, Ben.

I do love it.

I wish I could stay forever,
just drifting, but...

I have things to do.


Tunnels to dig.

Why are you mocking me?

Martin, you've done nothing but ridicule me.

You say we're partners, but
you never tell me anything.

There's no trust here.

The tunnel...

The tunnel was a legacy of the first
Martin Thiel, the real Martin Thiel.

My God, there was a man!

He moved freely, he knew how
to clean out scum, how to...


You should appreciate this.

He believed in the Lex Talionis,
the law of retaliation.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth...
A life for a life!

He did it and no lesser law trammeled him.

He saw a man whipping a dog,

he seized the whip and used
it on the man, who cried:

"But it's not your dog!"
And my forefather said:

"It's God's dog and I'm here to avenge it!"

Do you see the beauty in that?
The purity?

There you are, you know, that's what I hate.

You show me scenery, you tell me history

and dog stories, but not about you.

I am telling you about me.


That's the role I was destined for,

that's what makes sense of my coming
into this world of suffering,

wh-why my tiny spark
was not snuffed out

before it had a chance to blaze.

I was spared for a reason.


You know, you're right.

Anything is justified.


Come to my office.

I'll see you in the morning, Ann.

I knew you were an obstetrician.

It never occurred to me it was relevant.

You do abortions.

My practice is family
planning, birth control,

sterilization and pregnancy termination.

Do you discuss your work with Martin?

No, and I won't discuss it with you, either.
Why are you here?

Last time we talked, you insisted Martin
was home the night of the murder.

Now we know he could have been out.

He says that can't be held against him.

That's a technicality.
I'm talking about the truth.

Martin knows about your work, of course?

Of course.

And he also knows that you wanted

to terminate your own pregnancy.

You wanted to terminate Martin.
He didn't tell you that.

You should have told me. I
told you what was relevant.

You want brutal frankness,
Mr. Chase, go to Simon.

He was the one who told him the whole
story, his version of the story

when Martin was 14.

He wanted to tear him away from me.

It didn't matter.

He was already lost to me,
had been since he was eight.

You and I are the only ones close to Martin.

He wants to tell me this himself,

but he can't.

I had an emergency case.

It was in this room.

The woman had left it too late

and then tried to do it herself.

She was in bad shape.

My nurse and I were working desperately

trying to save her and we forgot the door.

The open door.

I turned to put the fetus...

It was dead before she got here.

I had it in my hands to put
it in the tray, and I saw...

I saw Martin standing there watching.

I shall never forget his eyes.

I tried to explain.

But I couldn't get him to talk about it.

The therapist couldn't either. Except
once when she got him upset somehow

and he told her that his mother...

He said that his mother killed babies.

Yeah, come on.

Peanut oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger.

Now, you're cooking.
I have garlic.

You know I have garlic.

You always need more garlic.

Come on, boy.

First, I'm gonna bestow a gem of wisdom.

And then I'm gonna ask
for a piece of information.

Fair enough?

Life is weird.

You know, never underestimate
how weird life is.

Yesterday I almost killed Martin.

It seemed like the only solution.

Today I've got him neat and tidy,

if Janet had an abortion.

Yeah, yeah, while I was in California.

Her boyfriend, Hal something.

I never met the guy.
He was living here.

Janet got pregnant and she wanted a baby.

Hal didn't. They fought over it.
Broke up over it.

What's that got to do with all this?

I'll tell you when it's a done thing, okay?

But you were right.


Everything is personal.

Now, what about you?

How come you're alone?

Well, maybe I never met the right guy.
Met the right guy.

We gotta talk. Now.

This has got to be the dumbest
thing you've ever done.

And "this" is?

The motion to seal
Dr. Thiel's medical files.

I wish you'd have let me see
it before it went through.

Gary, don't you read the journals?

That motion gives us a piece of one
of the legal issues of our day.

The battle of police...

It's a battle we shouldn't even be fighting!

If you hadn't made the motion,

they might not have thought to ask for it.

But now the prosecutor's not only going to
ask for it, he'll want to examine them.

He already has.

It's Parks.

Heh, he took his offer
of proof to Judge Ailman,

who was a prosecutor for a mere 30 years.

He'd love to give Parks the stuff.

If he can justify.

Well, there you are.


Come on, Ben.

Ailman will examine the
files himself, in camera.


So, if the names are in there,

he'll spill those files all
over the courthouse steps.


For Christ's sakes.

If the prosecution can
show the personal files

of otherwise unrelated victims

were in your client's mother's
office, in his own house,

he won't see daylight until Judgment Day.

And justice will be done.

He's guilty.

The nightmare of all defense
attorneys caught up with me.

I did everything I knew
to spring a guilty man,

and he did it again.

What do you mean "guilty?"

I mean he did it.

Most of our clients did it.

That's how most defendants
become defendants.

They did it and a lot of
people know they did it.

But making sure it's proved they did
it, establishing why they did it

and getting a reasonable penalty,
that's work for attorneys.

Guilty is for juries.
And justice is for God.

You have to do the best for your client.

If your sense of his guilt
prevents you from that,

then you withdraw from the case.

There's no other course.

I had to retrieve my error.

What about the names?

Nothing at all. Not one.

Ailman examined the files in
camera and found nothing.

He threw my motion for access out of court.

He threw me out of court.

None of the names?
I'm sorry, Carl.

I really thought I had
something for you this time.

But damned if I know why Chase
wanted that stuff sealed.

It doesn't make sense.

I told you what to do about him.

Yeah. It's already
in the works.

I'm not a signatory.
Yes, yes.

I have no stake in the lengthy...
Yes, but what do you think?

I just say, pick up the option.

Stu? Done.

And done.
Just sign here, Ben.

And this whole thing will be
behind us, until next time.

Well, let's get back to it, Joan.

Carol, will you call Mrs. Corbet and
tell her I can't make it tomorrow.

And, Mr. Burgess called about the
preliminary hearing tomorrow.

It's at 4:00.

Call back to confirm.

Quiet, it's just the mailman.

Here you go, ma'am.

Come on.




I'm Ellen Falkner.
I was Janet's friend.

So, how'd you know I was here?

Your new girlfriend told me
at the apartment.


I wanna know about the abortion.

Janet said you had some kind of a...
Fuck you.

Yeah, okay. Fine.
I'll ask your girlfriend.

So, the woman whose apartment I
subletted recommended her clinic.

But I'm not sure this is the right one.

Could you check and see if
a Janet Wallen comes here?

I'm sorry, you'll have to ask her.

We don't give out information
about our clients.

Of course, I understand. But you can
tell me about the doctors, right?

This is a list of all our doctors,

with their credentials and affiliations.

Mrs. Baker? Room Three.

This Dr. Thiel. I've heard of her.
She's very good?

There's no guarantee of seeing a
specific doctor. They're all good.

My last question, how late are you open?

Normally till 5:30.

We're running a little late today.

Great. Thanks. I'll be back.

Hello, this is the recorded
voice of Ben Chase.

Please leave your name and
number when you hear the beep.

Ben, this is Ellen. I think
I found the right files.

The Women's Medical Clinic,
corner of Pine and Pearl.

And I think I have a chance to make sure.

It's almost 5:30.
I'll call you back.

Hi, Ben. It's me.

I've been trying to get you
all week at your office,

but your secretary's too smart.

The Women's Medical Clinic,

corner of Pine and Pearl.
And I think...


It's Sybil Thiel.
I called you earlier.

I didn't get a message.

This is not a matter
for employees, Mr. Chase.

I talked to Martin.
I told him about the files.

Why didn't you tell him?

When was that?

Before the motion in the first place.

No, when did you talk to
Martin and where was he?

Early this afternoon.

Hello, this is the recorded
voice of Ben Chase.

Please leave your name and
number when you hear the beep.

Dammit, where are you? I don't
know what to do with these files.

Doreen Clark, Phylis Gilder, Janet.

They all had abortions here. Now, Dr.
Thiel never treated any of them,

but she had access to the files...

I see you know who I am. That's only
fair, since I know who you are.

You're Janet's friend and you
must be Ben's friend, too.

His little helper.

I should have known.

Poor, unfaithful Ben.

This is all Ben's fault.

You know that.


No! No!


Ellen. It's me! It's Ben!


Ellen! Ellen!


Martin, you frightened me.

Is Mother here?

She's in her office working late again.


You're back.

Busy now?

Killing babies?

Dr. Thiel!

Dr. Thiel!



You betrayed me, Ben.

Where are you?

You have no one to blame but yourself.

Are you at your mother's?

I have no mother.

Martin, what does that mean?

It means there's only
the two of us, you and me.

I need to see you.

9:00 tomorrow night
at River Point.

You and no one else.

Promise me that, Ben.

Promise me, Ben.

I promise.

That was him, wasn't it?

I've gotta kill him.

It's not worth it.

It is to me.

Ben, I saw the look in your eyes back there.

I know that look.

I have seen it on so many husbands,
and mothers and fathers.

And on the worst nights,
I've looked in the mirror

and seen it in my own eyes.

But when the light comes up,

I always know that you've
got to let the law have it.

That's exactly what he's counting on.

You'll arrest him.
Read him his rights.

Let him make a phone call to call
the best lawyer money can buy

and the whole thing will start over.

What's the alternative?

It'll be self-defense.

Or I'll make it look that way.

It's not how it'll look.
It's how it'll feel.

It'll feel good.

Ben, you'll be just like him.


Over here.
Follow the wires.

I'm breaking the rules.

You didn't bring any flowers, either.

You're pretty goddamn chipper.

What have I got to
worry about? I'm dying.

I didn't know.

Last time we talked, I didn't know.

Sure you did. We're all dying, all the time.

Don't remind me.

It's good to be reminded.

It's the only thing the
dead can do for the living.

Well, in the meantime,
what can I do for you?

Got any new quotes?

I thought you gave that up.

Too late to break the habit.

I've been thinking about an old one.

"There's no such thing as
justice, in or out of court."

Clarence Darrow.

And what do you think he meant?

That law and justice
are two different things.

They're not the same.

At least not here and now.

Not anywhere, not ever.
They're never the same.

Where does that leave you?

When I was just out of law
school, I went to Washington.

And the only thing I wanted to see

was a Justice of the Supreme Court.

I couldn't imagine what such an
exalted being would look like.

I went to the Court, and waited outside.

I saw Louis Brandeis.

It was like seeing Zeus.

I held my breath.

Then, he stepped on a patch
of ice hidden in a shadow

and did the most perfect
pratfall I ever saw.

I rushed forward and helped him up.

He wasn't hurt.
He wasn't embarrassed.

I was.

He just thanked me,
and left me standing there.

Then I looked up

and saw that the shadow fell

from one of the gleaming statues.

The figure that represents abstract justice.

Brandeis was just a human being.

Trying to keep his balance in pursuit
of an ideal that is always above us.

The law is the dark shadow of justice.

It does not shine.

It's not even the same shape,
but it is connected.

We know what casts the shadow,
and it's as close as we can get.

I've gotta go.

So do I.

Court will grant us time.

Your Honor,

defense would have no objection, of course.

But I assure the court
that the facts are simple.

And the rule clearly...

Your Honor, this is the most technical

and insignificant violation
of the man's rights.

No fucking way. No way.

You've got no choice, Mesel.

It's me he wants.

Anybody else shows up, he won't be there.

Why didn't you tell us this last night?

I have to do this.

Do what, Ben?

I'm here. I'm gonna
let you have him.

But you gotta let me be part of it.

Why should we?

Have to be on the record. Everything
you've been up to is gonna come out.

I'm past worrying about that, Jean.

Way past.

Liberating, ain't it?

What do you say?

We say yes, if it makes sense.

I wanna wear a bug.

You're still his lawyer.

I won't be after the first minute.

I'll return his retainer, and tell
him I no longer represent him

and try to get him to talk
about his mother's death.

If you're not his lawyer, why
should he tell you anything?

I know him.
I know him well enough.

We have a rather special relationship.

If he tumbles to the wire, he'll kill you.

Let me worry about that.

Look, Sonny.

Don't think for a second that I
give a damn what happens to you.

But this is our business. If there's
one thing we can tell you it's this:

A crazy killer is crazy.
And he will kill you.

I know.


9:00. The park
at River Point.

Come by the office
at 6:00.

We'll rig the equipment.

You bastard!

You bastard! You promised!

Come on!

You son of a bitch!

You promised me!

You promised me!

I love the rain.

After the purifying fire,
the cleansing rain.

I'm glad we've come back here, Ben.

It was a good time for us.

Get me the hostage unit, the SWAT team,

and the paramedics!
Clear the building!

Keep your men back from there.

It's good to know how things really are.

Even if I have to be alone.

Even if you're not with me.

What did you want me to do?

Hold them down?
Find innocent women...

Innocent women?

What about their babies?

More innocent than angels.

That's all over now.

But it was never the point
between us, Ben. Never.

You've missed the heart of what
I've been trying to tell you.

And what is the heart of it?

That you must judge for yourself.

And you must act on that
judgment, whatever the cost.

You were great. You were
so great in here, Ben.

You saved my life.

And I haven't forgotten that.
I'll prove it.

I have your life here
at the end of my finger.

I can take it, or spare it.

But what difference does it make,

if you don't save your own soul?

You think I should be stopped,

just as I know my mother had to be stopped.

But I acted on my belief.

Can you?

Can you?

What if I was to tell you that I'm going
to put up a sham insanity defense,

so I can be free again in a few years?

Would that make you see that
you must judge for yourself?

What if I gave you the gun?

What if I asked you what the punishment
should be for attacking Ellen?

I would have raped her.
I would have killed her.

I would have burned her.

What is your judgment?

Show me what I've taught you, Ben.

Save yourself.

Save me.

Poor Ben.

Drop it!