Marshall (2017) - full transcript

The story of Thurgood Marshall, the crusading lawyer who would become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases.



MAN: # Oh, honey #


A confession.

Is that what they call it?

Billy Lyons was thrown in jail
for three days... without cause.

In the case of Inez Washington
vs. the CR&L Bus Company,

gentlemen, I have reviewed all the
papers and briefs in my chambers

and I am prepared to rule.

The court finds that service of the complaint
was in fact made at the wrong address,

as Attorney Friedman has argued.

Therefore, the defendant's motion to dismiss

is granted.

- Thank you, Your Honor.

Great work, Friedman.


And to get their confession,

Special Agent Cheatwood, sent by
the governor himself, took this club...

his "nigger beater," he called it.

He tied Billy Lyons to a chair...

and he pounded Billy Lyons in the head with it.

And still Billy Lyons insisted he
had not committed these murders.

We had this one pegged as a loser.

You've got a real knack for
spotting technicalities.

Thank you, Mr. Sprague.


I'll be sending some more files
your way, if you've got the time.

- I will make the time.
- Good.

They forced him into their car

and hauled him off to the murder scene.

The bodies had been burned
and were decomposing.

They took some of the bones
of these dead bodies,

put them in a pan and placed
them in Billy Lyons' hands.

They admitted this.

Delirious with exhaustion and pain,

Billy Lyons confessed to a
crime he did not commit.

And it is based upon that confession alone

that they now seek to hang
Billy Lyons by the neck...

until he is dead.

- WOMAN: You'll get them the next time, baby.
- There may not be a next time.

- We needed this one.
- All right.

- When you coming home?
- I'll be on the next train to Knoxville.

I should be home by midday... Wednesday.

- Okay. Be safe. I love you.
- I love you too.

- Bye, baby.
- See you soon.


Hey, boy.

Boy, what do you think you're doing here?


What you gonna do, nigger?

- CONDUCTOR: All aboard.

I'll see you boys another time.

That son of a bitch. Let's go scare him.

Shoot him.


Please hold.

- Good morning, Mr. Marshall.
- Good morning.

- Welcome back.
- Thank you.


- Thurgood, you're going to Bridgeport.
- What? Now?

- No, I swore to Buster I would...
- How many Thurgoods are there? Five or 10?

There's only one. And that one is gonna
get his ass on the train tomorrow.

- Why?
- Why?

"Nightmare in Greenwich".
That's why... Thurgood.

"Wife Attacked by Negro Driver".
That's... why, Thurgood.

How about, "Fear Grips Connecticut"?

- What's the reaction?
- Fear.

Getting calls from all over the
country. Negroes getting fired.

White families afraid to have us in their home.

If we can't work as domestics,
Negro families are going to starve.

And this is a hell of a time
to lose half of our staff.

It's got everything, doesn't it?

"Eleanor Strubing,

fair-haired Greenwich socialite,

was the victim of a beastly
attack in her own bedroom."

Yes, and the boy that they're holding
is straight out of Native Son.

Look at that.


"Joseph Spell.

Uneducated Negro servant with a criminal past."

A fable that the New York City press
is gonna feed on to the last morsel.

- Yeah. They're starving for this one.
- So are we.

We win this thing, our big donors
are coming right back, Thurgood.

There's only 13 million
Negroes depending on you.

Irwin said I would find you here.

[SPITS] What?

Your brother said I would find
you here. You know, swimming.

Nice swimsuit.

- Who the hell are you?
- Tad Lancaster.

Bridgeport High. Remember?

- Trombone?
- Yeah!

- Still blowin' it too, man.
- What are you doing here, Tad?

Oh, I am, uh, working with
the Bridgeport NAACP.

Actually, I am the Bridgeport
NAACP, and I need a little favor.

Do you know that Spell case?

The guy who...

- who attacked the girl from Greenwich?
- Yeah.

Now, National is sending a lawyer
from the city to handle his defense,

and we need a local guy to get him admitted.


Uh, sorry, no. I'm not gonna do that.

- There's nothing else required.
- I'm not interested.

- Think about the publicity.
- That's exactly what I'm thinking of.

- Now, your brother seems to think...
- My brother is an absolute idiot.

Listen, Tad, thank you so
much for thinking of me.

Honestly, I'm grateful.

But I don't handle criminal cases. Okay?

Find someone who wants that kind of attention.

Irwin already filed the papers with the court.

He did what?

RADIO ANNOUNCER: ...scattered
over many parts of the country.

Nazi aircraft were reported over the

- south coast, the midlands...
- Paper, please.

As well as over the London area.

Thurgood Marshall.

National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People.

Sam Friedman. Um, Friedman and Friedman.

Good to meet you, Sam.

- Uh, give me a hand with these, would you?
- Sure.

What have you got in here? Cement?


Books, Mr. Friedman. My law library.

It goes where I go.

Look, I told Tad Lancaster I'll
get you admitted, as a favor.

- But I can't get involved with a case like this.
- Yeah? Why not?

Well, I do insurance defense.
You know, accident cases.

I've got a reputation to think of.


- That must be difficult.
- What?

Having a reputation... to think of.

- You meet our client yet?
- Your client. And no, I was waiting...

Well, come on then. Let's get to it.


- Got another one coming in.
- Okay.

University of Maryland Law School.
Was walking distance from home.

But they didn't accept colored,
so I had to go to Howard.

An hour and a half each way by bus, and
well-known as a school for failures.

That's too bad.

No. No, it was the best thing
that ever happened to me.

They'd just brought in a new
dean, Charles Hamilton Houston.

Turned that place around,
taught me everything I know,

including how to sue the University of Maryland.

You sued them?

You bet your ass I did.
Soon as I passed the bar.


Supreme Court ordered
the bastards to integrate.


You argued in the United States Supreme Court?


No, the Maryland Supreme Court.

I didn't argue in front of the US
Supreme Court until last year.

Your boy is ready for you.

Spell. Lawyer's here to see you.


Mr. Spell, I'm Thurgood
Marshall with the NAACP.

You heard of us?

- You a lawyer?
- I am.

This is Sam Friedman. He's a lawyer too.

- You can go. Got no money for lawyers.
- Anybody ask you for money?

- Did you rape that woman, Joseph?
- No.

- Why does she say you did?
- I don't know, why she saying that.

- She says you raped her and tried to kill her.
- She's lying.

- I was up in White Plains, at a club.
- Come on, Joseph.

- All night long?
- No, not... all night.

I was at the house but couldn't
sleep, so I went to play cards.

- Got back maybe 6:00, 6:30.
- Anybody see you at the club?

Yeah, but I don't know their names or nothin'.

For an alibi defense, you need witnesses,
Joseph. Otherwise it's her word against yours.

And who do you think they're gonna believe?

There was a cop.

- A cop?
- Stopped me in Port Chester

on the way to the club.

- Looked at my license, then let me go.
- What time was that?

I don't know. Maybe 3:00 in the morning.

I'm telling you this up front.

The NAACP, we're not like most lawyers.

We only represent innocent people,
people accused because of their race.

That's our mission. You understand?

So I need to know this... look at me now.

Did you do what they said you did?

I never touched that woman.

Okay, Joseph. You got lawyers now.




- Go ahead. Change the station.

What do you know about the prosecutor?

Lorin Willis.

Graduated Yale the day he was born.

Unless you came over on the
Mayflower, you're nothing to him.

They're grooming him to be senator, I hear.

- What do you know about the judge?
- Judge Foster?

Former law partner of Willis's father.


- I'll move your admission

- Monday morning, and then...
- Back to fighting off those insurance claims.

Yeah, I know.



Ah. So you like Langston Hughes, huh?

Of course. Don't you?

I don't give a damn about no poetry.

[CHUCKLES] Come on.

I actually went to school with Langston.

I just wish he'd do something
more worthwhile with his time.

- Another bourbon, Mr. Marshall?
- Sure. [SIGHS]

You know, Tad's got a law
degree too. From Fordham.

- You told me you were a driver.
- Yep.

The state of Connecticut decided to not
allow me a license to practice law.

They were generous enough to give
me a driver's license, however.

I see.

What about you, Irene?

What are you gonna be when you
grow up? A nurse like your mother?

- No.
- A lawyer then?

- No. A fighter pilot.

A fighter pilot?

Well, I feel a whole lot more
safe knowing that, then.

TAD: All right, say good night
to Mr. Marshall, Renie.

Good night.

You got kids?

Uh, Buster and I have been trying for a while.

Buster is my wife. Sometimes people
think I'm talking about my dog.

You should get a dog and
name it "Mrs. Marshall".

So, you think this boy did it?

Hey, whose side you on?

Women don't just go around lying
about being raped, Mr. Marshall.

You're going to have to figure
out why she'd do such a thing.

- Burden of proof is on the State.
- Is it now?

- Hey there.
- Hey.

So what can you tell me about
this Friedman guy anyway?

Uh, Sam and me played trombone
together in the high school band.

- You trust him?
- Sam? Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

If you dropped a nickel while kicking
him in the balls, he'd return it to you.

- Mmm.

Couldn't play trombone for shit though.

Can I have a minute, please?

- Just a minute!
- Who is this, a relative of Spell?

I'm Mr. Spell's attorney. Thurgood Marshall.

I thought you were Spell's lawyer, Mr. Freeman.

It's Friedman. Sam Friedman.

- Of Friedman and Friedman.
- Local counsel. That is all.

- The defense team, huh?
- Is your boy innocent, Mr. Friedman?

- He is not my...
- Let me state this to you all clearly

and unequivocally. Our client, Joseph
Spell, is an innocent man.

REPORTER: Well, let's get a picture of you two.


All rise.

Superior Court is now in session.

The Honorable Carl Foster presiding.

[CLEARS THROAT] You may be seated.

The State of Connecticut vs Joseph Spell.
Are the parties ready to proceed?

WILLIS: The State is ready, Your Honor.

FOSTER: Ah, Mr. Willis. Good morning.

How's your father doing?

He's better. Thank you.
That's kind of you to ask.

Uh, the defense is ready as well, Your Honor.

Well then, let's get on with it.

Mr., uh...

Mr. Friedman.

You filed an application to
admit an out-of-state attorney?

Yes, Your Honor. Attorney Thurgood
Marshall of the Maryland Bar.

I have the application in
front of me, Mr. Friedman.


Why do we need to admit
this lawyer, Mr. Friedman?

Does he have a long-standing
relationship with the defendant?

Uh, no, Your Honor, uh, but...

- How long has he known him?
- Not long, Your Honor, but...

Exactly how long?

Well, he met him for the
first time a few days ago.

- However...

FOSTER: A few days ago?

Well, then what possible reason
could there be to admit him?

You're a perfectly capable attorney,
are you not, Mr. Friedman?

You have tried cases before, haven't you?

Only civil cases, Your Honor. But
Mr. Marshall is with the NAACP.

And they are concerned that their
defendant receive a fair trial.

So are we all, Attorney Friedman.

So are we all. But he's not
a member of our bar, is he?

No, he's not. However, Your Honor,
Mr. Marshall is a respected attorney.

He argued in the United
States Supreme Court.

- That has no bearing on this case.
- Your Honor, may I be heard?

No, you may not.

The court has heard enough and will rule.


The court sees no legal requirement to
admit out-of-state counsel in this case.

- But, Your Honor...
- However,

the court not only wishes to
be fair to all of the parties,

but to maintain the appearance
of fairness as well.

Therefore, the court will allow Mr. Marshall

- to enter his appearance for the defense...
- Respectfully...

His written appearance, Mr. Willis.

Mr. Marshall may sit at counsel table.

- However, he may not speak.
- Your Honor,

- I must speak for the client.
- He may not speak, argue,

or examine witnesses. If he violates this
ruling, he will be held in contempt of court.

And you as well, Mr. Friedman.

You will conduct this case.

- Me?
- Yes, you.

The trial will begin a month from today

at 10:00 a.m.

- Court adjourned.

BAILIFF: All rise.

What the...

What the hell just happened?

- What just happened here? [WHISPERS]
- Shut up and be quiet. Let me think.

- I can't do this. You know that.
- Shut up.

Excuse me?

That son of a bitch.

I've tried cases before judges who were
Grand Dragons of the Ku Klux Klan,

who forced me to enter through the
back door, but this horseshit is a first.

I cannot get involved in a case like this.

Are you listening to me? It
would destroy my practice.

- This is not my problem.
- The hell it isn't.

No, you heard the judge.

Until we can find somebody
better, it's you and me.

It's our problem now.

Uh, Mr. Marshall...



According to Eleanor Strubing's account,

Spell rapes her at home, ties and
gags her, then drives up here.

He stops approximately 60 feet
onto the bridge, like so...

[SCREAMING] Joseph! Please!

THURGOOD: Takes her out of the car...


then pushes her over the guardrail,
into the reservoir, right about here.

He throws rocks at her, then drives away.

Somehow she gets to shore.

Dripping wet.

Then climbs up to the road.



Awfully scary down there though.

Go take a look where she climbed out.

Me? These are my best shoes.

Please try to make yourself useful.


Stop. Stop!



This is where the truck driver found her.

What do you want with those?

It's an old Negro superstition.

Always take a little piece
of the earth with you.



Mr. Friedman, your picture's on
the front page with Mr. Marshall.

Oh. Not a bad picture.

Of me, anyway.

- Also, your wife called.
- Oh, Sam. Perfect.

- Where you been?
- Out getting the cutlery I need to castrate you.

- You must be Irwin.
- I am.

- Mr. Marshall. Pleasure to meet you.
- Pleasure.

Sam, listen, I have great news.

I made some calls. Harry
Gruber, he wants the case.

Harry Gruber. The Communist.

Sam, at least he handles criminal defense.

Can you get Gruber on the line, Ruth?

- Sure thing.
- Thank you.

This is not a cut-and-dry case. I mean...

you should really consider whether or not
this is something you want to commit to,

- as far as I'm concerned.
- You want the Communist Party taking over?

They'll martyr Spell for their own cause.

Not my problem.

- You think he did it.
- That's for a jury to decide.

What you think?

You think he raped this woman and
drove her to the reservoir to kill her?

People have done stranger things.

That's right. People do all sorts
of strange things, horrible things.

But throw a woman over the bridge, into
the water, not check to see if she's dead,

then drive back to her house?

I mean, you've gotta have a
pretty dim view of Negroes

to think any one of us would do
anything so goddamn stupid.

The papers say he was dishonorably
discharged from the army.

This isn't a court-martial.

- He was fired from his last job for stealing.
- No charges were brought.

He left behind a wife and two
kids in Louisiana, Thurgood.

Yes, he's got baggage. Criminal
defendants usually do.

They're not perfect citizens like you and me.

But none of that makes him guilty of this crime.

Sam, I got Gruber on the phone.
What do you want me to tell him?

I don't know. Tell him he's a schmuck.

- Sam, come on.
- Irwin! Shoyn Genug, huh?


Why me?

I need someone who will do as I say.

What makes you think I will do as you say?

You have no choice. You don't
know what you're doing.

You're quite a salesman.

THURGOOD: There's no time for that.

You want me to try this case.

No, I need you to try this case.

"And the Lord commanded Moses
to enlist his brother's help.

He shall speak for you to the people."

[BOTH, IN UNISON] "He shall be your mouth,
and you shall be as God to him."

- Tell Gruber to go fuck himself.
- All right.

And find the cop who stopped
Spell. We need a witness.

Okay. I'm on it.

What is this?

You say you've never tried a
criminal case before, right?

- Yeah, that's right.
- You'd better start reading then.

You've got one month.

Hey, look who's back. You coming tonight?

No, not tonight.

Oh, man, I was really looking
forward to catching up with you.

All right, you need to stop
feeling sorry for yourself.

I am the one who's been sick...

every morning...

for the past month.

- What?

- You better not be lying.
- Look at the bump.

Oh! I see it.

- You see it?
- Mmm!

- Mmm, mmm.

Come on, I'm not going anywhere after this.



- You don't believe me.
- No, I don't.

I swear.

- You swear.
- I swear I swear. Nowhere, nowhere.

- I swear.
- Mmm!


# Trouble in mind #

# Guess I'm blue #

# But I won't be blue always #

# Sun is gonna shine #

# In my back door someday #

Langston, he swore on his mother's life

that he wouldn't be going
anywhere anytime soon.

- My mother's name was never mentioned.

Well, this case is all anybody
in this city is talking about.

Which only means that the inevitable
loss will be that much more devastating.

Don't bet against me.

- No, you're not even trying the case, baby.
- Every single word that man

utters in that courtroom will be mine.

I'm just making the point that a Negro charged
with ravishment by the... Greenwich gentility

should probably save himself the
time and unpleasantness of a trial.

Langston, maybe you should
just go back to Spain.

Or back to Russia.

Write your little poems, explore
big ideas with your comrades.

I was fighting Fascists in Spain.

Well, you were writing about
fighting Fascists in Spain.

[LAUGHS] Listen, by the time the baby comes,

Thurgood's gonna be out of a job.

Do none of you have any confidence in me?

I'd say you have enough confidence for us all,

misplaced as it may be.


[MAN LAUGHS] Great to see you!

LANGSTON: God, here comes Zora.

Probably leaving dinner with Charles Lindbergh.

- Don't you dare...
- Zora!

[MAN SHOUTS] Sit down!

THURGOOD: Come on over here.

- Zora Neale Hurston!
- Hi!

How y'all doin'?

- Langston Hughes.
- Zora.



- ZORA: And who is this?
- I'm August.

- I've heard so much about you.
- Huh.

That's funny, 'cause I haven't
heard a thing about you.

- Huh, Langston?
- # Oh, trouble in mind #



MAN: You had it now, girl!

Okay, guys. We ready to go?

You're still not talking to me.

It's... it's not my fault.

You have no idea how persuasive
this guy can be.



- Shh.
- [WHISPERING] Stella.

What on earth is Sam thinking? With
all that's going on in the world today,

we don't need this kind of
attention focused on us.

Well, he wasn't looking for it,
Rose. Irwin got him involved.

Well, you tell him that everybody
is terrified by what this man did.

Sophie Gittelson fired her girl today.
She's been with them for 11 years.

- They fired Gladys? Why? She's lovely.
- Yeah, she's lovely.

But what if one of her relatives comes to
visit? They have their daughter to think of.

- I would've done the same thing.



- Well, if it isn't Mr. Friedlansky.
- Mr. Weisman.

Dora and I couldn't remember.
Were you born here or in Minsk?

We, uh... we came over when I was one.

That's what I thought.

So you feel like a really big shot,
I bet, defending that schvartze.

What do you think your father would say?

I could not tell you.

I think he'd say he was proud.

For the defense.

Don't mention it.

To anyone.


BOY: Eew!

FOSTER: Jury selection, gentlemen.

Clerk, call the first venire person.

Lester Gilman of Norwalk.

- Mr. Gilman.

Mr., uh, Gilman,

um, in this case a colored man is
accused of raping a white woman.

Could you be fair in deciding such a case?

I think so.

No further questions.

Accepted by the defense.

To tell you the truth, I don't know
much about them, the colored.

We don't have too many in Stratford.


I'll be honest with you.
I don't like the colored.

Seems to me they're always
getting into some sort of trouble.

I don't think much of Hebrews either.

Excuse me?

Well, you're one of them... I figured.

Thank you for your candor, Mr. Wright.

Uh, no further questions.

[WHISPERS] Excuse for cause.


Your Honor, we move to have
Mr. Wright excused for cause.

On what grounds?

- [WHISPERS] Bias.
- [WHISPERS] I know.

He just admitted he's biased.

Mr. Wright, you are a law-abiding citizen.

- Wouldn't you say?
- That's right, Your Honor.

If I instructed you that the law
requires that you set aside your bias,

would you obey my instruction?

Guess I'd have to.

The challenge for cause is overruled.
You may use the peremptory challenge.

- Your Honor, with all due respect...
- I've made my ruling.



Mr. Ellis, you agree, do you not,

that as a colored man you could not
fairly pass judgment on Mr. Spell.

No, sir.

You agree you could not be fair.

No. What I mean is, yes, if he's
guilty, I'd have to convict him.

I'll use a challenge.

[WHISPERS] Object.

- On what basis?
- Just do it.

Uh, Your Honor, I object.


- He can't use the challenge to discrim...

I heard that, Mr. Marshall.

It's a peremptory challenge, Mr. Friedman.

The State may use it for
whatever reason it wants.

Mr. Willis, you have four
left. The defense has one.

[WHISPERING] What was the point of that?

Every single time they discriminate,
we're going to object.

Recognize it. Now.

WILLIS: Mrs. Richmond, do
you reside in Greenwich?

Yes, Mr. Willis. I do now.

And if the State proves its case,
you could convict the defendant?

Yes, of course I could.

Thank you, Mrs. Richmond.
That's all I wanted to know.

Mrs. Richmond, I notice you have an accent.

Really? Here I thought you were the
one with the accent, Mr. Friedman.

Fair enough.

Mrs. Richmond,

- where did you live before moving here?
- Raleigh, North Carolina.

- But now you live in Greenwich.
- Yes, that's right.

So if you live in Greenwich, you
must have heard about this case.

It's all anybody talks about.

I assume, then, that you've
come to some sort of conclusion

regarding the defendant's guilt or innocence?

You assume incorrectly.

I don't have all the evidence, now, do I?

Have you met Mrs. Strubing?

In passing, at parties and community events.

I believe we belong to the same club.

Do you really think then, Mrs. Richmond,

that with all of these connections...
the club, the parties...

that you could really just set all of that aside?

I don't see why not.

Thank you. No further questions.

The State accepts Mrs. Richmond.

Your Honor... [WHISPERING] What?

No. Absolutely not.

- Mr. Friedman.

Your Honor, um... may we
have five minutes, please?

- Fine with me, Your Honor.
- The court will recess for exactly five minutes.

But we're not gonna make a habit
of this, are we, counselor?

No. No, of course not. Thank you, Your Honor.


We have one challenge left.

- It was made for this woman.
- Just trust me on this.

She's a Southerner. Lives in the same town.

- Take her.
- I'm not your goddamn puppet.

I'm getting rid of her.

She's smart, she's confident,
she resists authority.

Did you see the way she talked back to you?

- The other jurors will listen to her.
- Which is exactly the problem.

She knows Mrs. Strubing. They
run in the same social circles.

And she doesn't put her on a pedestal.
Maybe Mrs. Strubing is a drinker.

Maybe she has a boyfriend in town.
This woman may know things.

You are stabbing in the dark.

Maybe, but this I do know.

The one thing Southerners like
her hate more than the colored...

arrogant Yankee pricks like Willis.

Were you watching her?

She folded her arms and sat
back when Willis spoke.

When you began, she opened up,

leaned forward, removed her glasses.

These are signs.

- Signs of what?
- She likes you.

No, my gl... my glasses!

I need my glasses.

- [WHISPERS] Well, it's about time.
- Yeah.

Mr. Friedman?

The defendant accepts Mrs. Richmond.

[WHISPERS] Am I missing something?

Mrs. Richmond, you've been
accepted by both of the parties

and will serve as our 12th and final juror.

The evidence will begin tomorrow
morning at 10:00.


- Hey, hey! Hey, hey!
- Mr. Friedman! Mr. Friedman.

What do you have to say about
today's comments by the NAACP?

- What comments?
- The press release by Walter White?

He says that, "The Spell
case will show the world

that a colored man cannot get a fair
trial in the United States of America."

- Do you agree, Mr. Friedman?
- I have nothing to say about that.

What about you, Mr. Marshall?

Hasn't it been proven in this courtroom already?


How can a man have a fair trial when
he's denied counsel of his choice?

When the members of his race are
eliminated from service on his jury?

When fear and bias against his race are
the central points of the case against him?

- In Europe right now,

the forces of tyranny have mobilized behind
the vision of a so-called: "Master Race".

But here in America, our differences
aren't supposed to matter.

Here we're promised equal
protection under the law.

- Separate but equal!
- Nothing complicated about that.

That promise has not been
realized, not even close.

Not in Birmingham, Alabama, nor
in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,

and certainly not here in
Bridgeport, Connecticut...


where your bigotry is simply
covered by a northern accent.

But a fair jury can always
render a just verdict.

That's what we're striving for here today.

The Constitution was not
written for us. We know that.

But no matter what, we're
gonna make it work for us.

From now on we claim it as our own.


What's bothering you?

- Sam.
- Not now.

What's bothering me?

You insulting the judge on the courthouse
steps. That's what's bothering me.

[SCOFFS] Just relax.

Excuse me?

I have to live in this city after
you're gone. Understand?

No more public statements until
this trial is over, or I'm gone.

Let me make this clear.

My people will decide what to say to
the newspapers and when to say it.

The newspapers should have no

- place in this trial.
- But they already do.

People are losing their jobs

- because of these stories.
- Those people are not my clients!

Well, they are mine!

My jury isn't just the 12 people in that
jury box. It's the whole goddamn nation.

You just focus on this case, try your best not
to screw it up and leave the big picture to me.


What is it, Irwin? Don't you
have something to do?

- There's someone waiting for you in my office.
- Yes? And who is this someone?

Uh, Officer McCoy.

And who the hell is Officer McCoy?

The cop, who pulled Spell over that night.

I just did what you said.

I drove around Port Chester, pulling
over police cars, and I found him.

Attaboy, Irwin. Attaboy.

What time did you pull over Mr. Spell?

Did you hear the question?

3:37 a.m., according to my notes.

Why'd you stop him?

It didn't look like...

a man like that would drive that car.

Was anyone with him in the car?

No. He was alone.

You're willing to testify to that in court?

If I have to.

Irwin, get a sworn statement from
Officer McCoy, then escort him out.



An honest policeman.


See what your publicity stirs up?

No, it just brings 'em out
where you can see 'em.

- Give us justice!
- That doesn't look anything like me.

Does it?

The State of Connecticut vs Joseph Spell.

Are counsel ready to proceed?

- Ready for the State.
- We are, Your Honor.

Mr. Willis, you may call your first witness.

The State calls Greenwich Police
Captain Burke to the stand.

Would you identify these photos, Captain Burke?

Yes, sir. That's the Kensico Reservoir.

Did you find any evidence at the
scene that pertains to this case?

Yes, sir, we did.

We found Mrs. Strubing's sealskin coat floating
in the reservoir, under the bridge, about here.

Then about here, on the guardrail,
we found some strands of fabric.

I believe they were stuck
to some bird droppings.

Were you able to identify the fabric?

Yes, sir. It matched the fabric from
Mrs. Strubing's sealskin coat.

Thank you. Nothing further.

FOSTER: Your witness, Mr. Friedman.


Bird droppings.


Uh, bird droppings, Captain Burke?

Yes, that's right.

Were you able to identify the bird?


May I?

Thank you.


on one side of the bridge is
the reservoir, placid as a lake.

On the other side is a 30-foot
drop onto a jagged rock bed.

- Is that correct?
- You could say that.

And the fabric that you found
was on the lake side,

right about here... around
60 feet onto the bridge.

- BURKE: Sixty-seven feet, four inches.
- Okay.

Did you conclude, then, that Mrs.
Strubing fell or jumped off the bridge?

- I concluded that she was pushed.
- Pushed?

To murder her.

BURKE: That's right.

As a trained crime investigator, Captain,

did you ever ask yourself,

if someone wanted Mrs. Strubing dead,

why not push her onto the sharp, jagged
rock bed rather than the still lake water?

Object. Asking for speculation.

Sustained. The jury will disregard the question.

Now... [CLEARS THROAT] Mrs. Strubing told
you that after pushing her into the water,

Joseph threw rocks at her from the bridge.

- Is that correct?
- Yes.

Mm-hmm. Were there any rocks on the bridge?

I don't know. There may have been.

But there were rocks in the area
around the bridge. Is that correct?

- Yes, there were.
- About how big were they?

I really couldn't say.


Were they...

any bigger than this, Captain?

I can't say they were.

This... this is a pebble, isn't it, Captain?

You could call it that.

What would you call it?

- A pebble.

A pebble.

So, in summary, Captain,

it is your belief that this man

threw Mrs. Strubing into a placid lake,

then gathered pebbles to toss at her while
she waited patiently under the bridge.



No further questions, Your Honor.

Captain Burke, you are excused.

Court is adjourned.

BAILIFF: All rise.

Mr. Friedman.

Well done.

- Well done.
- Let's go.

Why are you smiling?

I think we scored some points there.

This isn't a sporting event.

A man's life is on the line.

A word with you, Friedman.

Yes, of course.


Or to you both.

The doctor who examined
Ellie is testifying tomorrow.

It's rather personal, of course.

- These are private people...
- Please get to the point.

Excuse me?

I've spoken with John Strubing, and
he's willing to consider a plea.

It's my decision, of course, but plead your boy
and I'll recommend a sentence of 20 years.

- Otherwise, he gets life.
- No.

- No deals.

Mr. Friedman?

- Not my call.
- Of course. You have to speak to your client.

I'll expect a different answer in the morning.

THURGOOD: Even with good behavior,
you'd be locked up at least 14 years.

I could maybe do that.

They don't know we found the cop, Joseph.

We don't even know if Strubing will show up.

- You could walk out of here a free man.
- But if she does...

- If you wrong...
- SAM: Listen.

- The decision is yours.
- Sam.

I need to talk to Joseph.

- Are you asking me to leave?
- Of course not.

He's your client.

I'm asking you to listen.

When we first met,

I told you I'd only defend you if you were
innocent, and you told me you were innocent.

- You remember?
- I remember.

- Did you lie to me?
- No, I didn't lie.

So I'm gonna ask you again.
Did you commit this crime?

- No.
- But you're willing to say you did.

If I got to. For the deal.

If you "got to"?

My great-granddaddy was a slave.

Were your people slaves, Joseph?

When we were slaves we had to
do what the master said... but...

we're not slaves now, are we?

- No, we ain't slaves.
- You say that like it's nothin'.

We ain't slaves because we rose up and
we fought and we fought and we fought

till we got our freedom.

Isn't that right?

My granddaddy escaped when he was 15.

Fought off four men and an
attack dog, my mama said.

Okay, then you tell me this.

After what your granddaddy
did to get his freedom,

you're just gonna give it
right back for nothing,

for something you didn't even do?

Understand this, if you want your freedom,
you're gonna have to fight for it.

But you don't have to fight
alone. That's why I'm here.

We've got weapons now, Joseph.

Our people do.

Weapons we didn't have before.

We've got the law.

And you've got Sam,

one of the finest young trial lawyers
in this country, on your side.

You really think we can win?

I wouldn't be here if I didn't
think we could win.

Dr. Sayer, please tell the
jury your field of specialty.

I specialize in the field of gynecology,

- and... I deliver babies.

On the morning she was
discovered in the reservoir,

did you have occasion to examine
Mrs. Eleanor Strubing?

Yes. She was brought to my home
by the police at, uh... let's see...

6:30 in the morning.

Did she tell you what had happened?

Objection. Hearsay.


WILLIS: Doctor?

I've forgotten the question.

What did Mrs. Strubing tell you?

She told me that she had been raped
by a colored man who worked for her.

What was her mental state during all of this?

SAYER: She was severely distraught, weeping.

She kept repeating, "Am I
pregnant? Am I pregnant?"

- Did you then examine her?
- Yes.

My wife assisted by removing her clothing.

It was torn, wet, and muddy.

I noted bruises, on her arms and legs

and numerous abrasions and
contusions on both extremities.

I then performed an internal exam.

Do you have an opinion, based
upon reasonable medical certainty,

as to whether or not she had been raped?

Beyond question, Mr. Willis, it
was all... consistent with rape.

Thank you.

Your witness.

[WHISPERING] Get the records.

[WHISPERING] Medical records. Get them.

Your Honor, may we please see
the medical records of Dr. Sayer?

Object. These, are personal.


I'm sorry, Mr. Willis, but the
witness referred to them.

- They must be turned over.
- Thank you, Your Honor.



Abrasions and contusions. Those are
scrapes and cuts, aren't they, Doctor?

- Yes. Scrapes, scratches, bruises.
- Right.

Well, the fall from the bridge and
the climb through the pine forest

could be responsible for cuts
and bruises, could it not?

It's possible.


You did an internal exam... and you found...

"edema, swelling, traces of blood."

- Yes.
- Mm-hmm.

And it was based on this that you
determined that she was raped?


But those same findings...

are equally consistent with
a woman who took a lover

and engaged in vigorous sexual intercourse

- over the course of an evening.
- Objection.

How dare you. There is no
evidence of any lover.

FOSTER: Sustained.

There's no place for that in
my courtroom, Mr. Friedman.

Um, of course, Your Honor.

- I... I'm sorry.

- Hello?
- Hey, baby.

- No, they just pulled me out of proceedings...
- The baby...

didn't make it.

And it was just so much worse this
time. The bleeding was just...

- It wouldn't stop.
- [SIGHS] I'm so sorry.


I should be there.


- Buster, are you there?
- Yeah, I'm...

I'm here.

Where are you?

Do you have any further
questions, Mr. Friedman?

Mrs. Strubing told you that
she resisted her assailant?

- Yes, she did.
- Mm-hmm.

And you looked under her
fingernails too, didn't you,

to see if you could find any traces of skin?

I did.

What did you find?

Splinters, dirt in some...

- Any skin, Doctor?
- [MURMURS] No, Sam.

Yes. I was just about to get to that.

Excuse me?

There was skin.


Where in these records does it say
anything about finding traces of skin?

It's not in the records.

My wife took the notes. She did not
write down that bit of information.

Why not, Doctor? Why would...
why would she not record that?

Out of respect for the patient's
privacy, Mr. Friedman.

It was the skin of a colored man.

SAM: No further questions.

It wasn't in the records. They
got a doctor to lie under oath.

How do we fight against that?

You asked the exact question
Willis wanted you to ask.

- What were you thinking?
- Where the hell were you? Hmm?

Getting instructions from Walter White?

See what happens when I don't hold your
hand? You panic up there like an amateur.

You should have let him take the deal.

Goddamn it, would you shut up about the
deal? We have an alibi witness. Remember.

What don't you get?

They will have McCoy change
his testimony. Just watch.

Let them. We'll take his sworn
statement and shove it up his ass.

No, tomorrow morning I'm
walking in the Willis office

- and I'm asking if the offer is still on the table.
- The NAACP isn't taking any deals.

The NAACP isn't the one with
its life on the line here.

Yes, it is, goddamn it.


You're using him.

That's all this is. Just like you
said the Communists would.

We're giving him the best possible
defense under the circumstances.


I'm sure he'll feel really lucky as he
sits in prison for the rest of his life.

Let's not act like it's Joseph Spell
you're concerned for all of a sudden.

What is that supposed to mean?

From the moment you got involved in
this, you've been looking for a way out.

Play nice with the DA, earn yourself a favor,

maybe they'll let you in their
neighborhood or their club one day.

Well, get this through your head.

The only way to get through a
bigot's door is to break it down.

Must be easy for you to say, huh?

See, it's my life that is on the line here.

My family, my practice, my future. What
do you have? You have nothing to lose.

No, you just sweep through town,
stirring up, all kinds of ugliness,

then move right on.

No one will ever even remember you were here.

Oh, fuck you, Sam.

Fuck you.

Hey. You two okay?

FOSTER: Please take the stand, Mrs. Strubing.

Mrs. Strubing, you reside in Greenwich?

Yes. My husband, John and I moved
from Philadelphia about a year ago.

Is your husband here in the courtroom today?

Of course.

Sitting in the front.

Mrs. Strubing, do you remember
the night you were attacked?

Mr. Willis, I assure you,
I will never forget it.

Please tell the jury what happened.

My... husband was away on business,

as... he is often, I'm afraid.

I had dinner with friends... the Moores.

And I arrived home around ten o'clock
and then I decided to shower before bed.

And I was fixing my hair.

And he came in the room.

He came after me and started chasing me.

He had a knife.

The knife was pointed at my throat, and I...

I thought of screaming, but...

I couldn't.

He... he penetrated me.

I couldn't make him stop.

His body was crushing me.

What happened next, Mrs. Strubing?

He said he wasn't finished with me. [SNIFFLES]

And then he did it again.

Did what?

Raped me, Mr. Willis.

WILLIS: And then what happened?

When it was over, he said, "We're
going for a ride, Mrs. Strubing".

After all that,

he still called me "Mrs. Strubing".

Then he tore my dress with
his hands... and gagged me.

I show you Exhibit "H".

- Is this the dress?
- Yes. That's it.

And is this, Exhibit "I", taken from that
dress, similar to the gag he used on you?

- Identical.
- Then what happened?

We started driving.

I had to lay down on the
floor so that I wasn't seen.

He came around, pulled me out of the
car, and I remember feeling weightless.

Suddenly I was freezing.

Rocks were hitting around me.

Mrs. Strubing,

do you see the man who raped
you, in this courtroom today?

[SIGHS] Yes.

He's, right over there.

The colored man.

For the record, Mrs. Strubing,
which colored man?

The one in the brown suit.

Thank you.

One more question, Mrs. Strubing.

Did you encounter anybody else
during your time with Mr. Spell?

Yes, as we were driving toward the reservoir,
the... the car suddenly filled with red light.

It was the police. I thought,
at last, I was saved.

And then Joseph said to get down back there

and if I made a sound, that
he would cut my throat.

Then I heard the policeman.

And I thought, please, please, just look.

But he didn't. He... he... he spoke
with Joseph and then he left.


I'm so sorry. I... I did not want to cry.

I'm so sorry.

You've been very strong, Mrs. Strubing.

WILLIS: She certainly has, Your Honor.

No more questions.

Hi there.

- Name, sir?
- Sam... Friedman.

- Sam Friedman.
- Friedman.

- I don't seem to have your name here, sir.
- Actually, I'm a friend of...

Hold onto this for me.

Sir, you can't go back there.

Gen... Gentlemen, you must leave now!

Marshall, this is not the kind of
place you want to make a scene.

I know. I used to work in
a place just like this.

That's exactly what my father said.

If we just let the Reds and the Nazis fight it out,
they'll take care of each other beautifully.

- This club is for members only, boy.
- Don't worry!

Lorin, it appears that you have
some rather unique admirers.


- This is a private club.
- She wasn't in the car, Lorin.

- Excuse me?
- You had her lie on the stand today.

- Are you accusing me of a crime?
- Yeah. That's exactly what I'm doing.

Who do you think you are?

We have a sworn statement
from an Officer McCoy that

- Spell was alone that night.
- I don't care, what you have.

Ellie Strubing told the Greenwich police
everything when she first recounted the crime.

If she wasn't in the car, how could she have
known the car had been stopped, hmm?


- Read it.
- What is this?

Another sworn statement.

This from Ellie Strubing the morning
they found her. Dated, timed, notarized.

Everything she told the Greenwich police.

This is fraudulent.

Get out of my club.

I've had better.




Are you okay, sweetie?

You look blue.

And a man as good-looking as
you has no cause to be blue.


Where is he?

Attorney Friedman.

I'm not much of a conversationalist tonight.

It's okay. I am. I'm Jen.

- Thurgood.
- Pleasure.

I've never seen you here before...

Attorney Friedman.

Attorney Friedman, hold on a minute.

What do you want?

We're just eager to introduce ourselves.

To you and the nigger lawyer.

You don't want to have anything
to do with this man, miss.

Excuse me.

You gentlemen are making a big mistake.

There's no mistake. We know who you are.

Bet you wish you had your
nigger lawyer friend now.


- Get out of here. Get out of here.
- Hey!

Hold him up.

- JEN: Let him go!
- Hold on.

You liking this? You kike!

Let him go! Let him go!

Let him go!


- Go, go!
- Kike bastard!



This here is Mr. Thurgood Marshall.

This man is an attorney.

You'll be showing Mr. Marshall
all the respect he deserves.


Sit down and finish your bourbon.

Say something!

You're late.


What happened? Huh?

I didn't mean to start trouble.

It's not your fault.


It's okay.


Men are men...

and women are women.




Nazi masters of Germany...

have made it clear that they intend

- not only to dominate all life and thought...

in their own country,

- but also to enslave the whole of Europe.
- There's flanken. [CLEARS THROAT]

Why are you so...

My God, Sam. What happened to you?

I... I could use some ice.

- Hey.
- What is it? What's wrong?

I got in the first punch.

Come on, what's wrong? What
is this? You've been crying.

No. Not now. Let's...

Tell me.

My cousin Anna, in Kraków.

They took her?



- Who is that?
- I don't know.

Stand back.



- Who is it?
- It's me.

Thurgood. Your co-counsel. Open up!

What happened to you?

- Did I come at a bad time?
- What do you want, Thurgood?

- I have thoughts about tomorrow.

[WHISPERS] Tomorrow? Get out of my house.


Not until I tell you why I'm here.

Hear me out.

You were right.

I had it all wrong all along.

Spell was with her all night.

Spell lied.

This is your big epiphany?

Eleanor Strubing lied too.

Neither of them have been telling us the truth.

Thurgood, you have just
broken this case wide open.

My God, you really are a legal genius.

Men are men and women are women.

Men are men and women are women, Sam.

- You think it was consensual.
- It's the only explanation that makes sense.

How can we be certain?

- We need to talk.
- Talk about what?

Listen to me carefully now.

Did you have sexual intercourse
with Eleanor Strubing?

- No. Why you keep asking me that?
- I never asked you that before.

Did you have sex with her?

- Speak, goddamn it.
- I told you I didn't.

She says she was in that
car when it got stopped.

- You hear her say that in court?
- I heard, but she's lying.

No, she's not lying.

- You're lying.
- Why are you taking her side?

- The cop...
- The cop never searched the car.

She was in the back seat, wasn't she?

- No. Look, I'm telling you...
- Get this through your head.

She gave a statement to the
police early that morning.

She knew then the car had been stopped.

Okay. Okay, she was there.

- And did you have sex with her that night?
- Mmm.

- Answer me. Answer me now!
- Yes.

How many times?

Two times.

So, you're guilty.

- You've been lying all along.
- No!

It wasn't rape.

What about the skin under her
nails? The doctor lying too?

When we got to the reservoir, I parked the car.

But she starts screaming,
opens the door to run out.

So I grabbed her just to keep her there.

That's when she scratches me.

- You lying to me again?
- No. It's the truth.

Why didn't you tell me the
truth in the first place?

- Because I... I was confused.
- That's not good enough, Joseph.

Willis is gonna ask you why you lied,
sure as you're standing here.

He's gonna ask you in front of everyone.

The jury's gonna be studying
you with all 24 eyes.

And you're just gonna say you were confused?

- I couldn't think straight.
- That's not gonna swing it.

You lied in a sworn statement.

Why would you do that?

Because I was scared. All right?

I was scared what they'd gonna
do to me if they find out.



My father told me once,

"If anybody calls you nigger,

you not only got my permission to fight
him, you got my orders to fight him."

You're right. Your father say anything
about being called a kike?


Not to me anyway.

You look like a real fighter now, Sam.

Like a Jewish Joe Louis.


Barney Ross is my guy.

Barney Ross it is.

- Good morning.
- Good morning, Mr. Friedman.

Mrs. Strubing,

you're originally from Philadelphia,
is that correct?


College grad?

Bryn Mawr, Mr. Friedman.

And you were an athlete, I understand?

Yes, I was on the swim team.


Um... you and your husband moved
to your estate in Greenwich

- last spring, is that correct?
- I don't know if I'd call it an estate.

I'm sorry... um... a mansion?

John and I moved here, to
Greenwich, rather, last May.


But your husband was away on the
night of this incident. Is that right?

Yes, as I said, on business.

You've testified that you went
out on the evening in question.

That is correct. To the Moores'.

Did you, um... did you drink
at the Moores' home?

- As I recall, I drank some wine.
- How many glasses, would you say?

I don't remember.

But it was more than one.

I didn't say that. I said I didn't remember.


When you drove home, were you tipsy?

I never drink enough to get tipsy.

Okay. So you went straight up to your
room to shower. Is that correct?

- Yes.
- And when you came out of the shower,

you say... Joseph, was waiting for you.

I didn't see him at first.

I had no reason to believe that I wasn't alone.

But then...

he was there.

You were attracted to Joseph,
weren't you, Mrs. Strubing?

- Objection! That's an absurd accusation!
- What?

- You invited him into your bed, didn't you?
- Your Honor!

- He attacked me!
- Strike the question

and answer from the record.

Mr. Friedman, no more of
this. You understand me?

SAM: Yes, Your Honor. Yes, of course. I'm sorry.

Now, your bedroom is just below
the room where the maid slept?


Did you scream for help?

I couldn't. He had a knife.

Did he hold the knife as
he removed his clothing?

He must have.

So he removed his pants, belt,
zipper, whatever, with one hand?

Apparently so.

You told Mr. Willis that you fought him,
but he overpowered you. Is that right?

- Yes.
- There was a phone right next to your bed.

- Did you attempt to use it?
- No. I was terrified.

Afraid to use the phone or scream for
help, but not afraid to fight back?

You have no idea what it
feels like to be so afraid.

But at no point... at no point

during the hours and hours that
the two of you were together

did you ever attempt to make any calls,
to escape, to raise your voice for help?

- Object. This is argument.
- I was scared for my life!

Sustained. The jury will disregard the question.

You knew you had been
unfaithful to your husband.

You were terrified of what he
would do to you if he found out.

- And you wanted to get away. - He is
badgering the witness! - That is not true!

I was forced to leave the house. He bound me!
He gagged me and he dragged me to the car.

The police stopped the car?

- Yes.
- But still you did not scream?

- He had a knife!
- Right. Right. The knife.

As you testified, you were afraid
that he was gonna slash your throat

from the front seat of the car, was it?

I couldn't make a sound.

- Because of the gag?
- Yes.

Mrs. Strubing,

this Exhibit "I" is identical
to the gag that he used?


Let's just show the jury what he did then.

Mrs. Strubing, please, please
instruct Mr. Marshall, if you would.

The gag was between your lips.
Is that correct, Mrs. Strubing?

Yes. That's correct.

Is... this about right?

[SIGHS] No, it was a bit tighter than that.

How 'bout this, ma'am?

Yes, that's about it.


- Now, you could have done that, Mrs. Strubing.
- He would have killed me.

- Who would have killed you? Your husband?
- Objection!

- Quiet, Mr. Marshall.
- How dare you speak...

- to me that way.
- There was a policeman

standing not three feet away from
you. You did not call out for help.

- Instead, Joseph drove on to the reservoir.
- I'm warning you. No speaking!

You bolted from the car because you
were ashamed of what you had done

- with another man, with a colored man!
- Objection!

One more word out of you and
I will hold you in contempt!

You were afraid of what your husband
would do to you if he found out.

Afraid that you were pregnant
with a colored child.

- Objection! This is argument!
- Sustained.

- Jury will disregard.
- You jumped into that water.

- You wanted to end it all.
- Jumped? I was thrown.

I was thrown. My hands were
tied. He tried to kill me!

Your hands were not tied, Mrs. Strubing.

You were able to remove your
coat and let it float in the water

- as you swam to shore.
- That's not true. That's a lie.

He... he gagged me. He tied me.

Raped me.

I am so... so sorry for your
unhappiness, Mrs. Strubing.

No more questions.

- Mr. Willis?
- I have no questions.

How can we put Spell on the
stand with all this baggage?

The jury needs to hear him deny it.

And you bring out all the bad stuff yourself.

- Don't leave anything for Willis.
- What happens to the organization if we lose?

I don't even want to think about it.

- You could blame me.

You're one of us now, Sam.

Haven't you noticed?

In the papers they write, "Sam Friedman
and Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP".

Joseph, please tell the jury
where you were raised.


- You have a wife and two children, right?
- Uh-huh.

Even though you have a wife, you have
another woman in White Plains, is it?

- Yes.
- What's he doing?

- Ever served in the army, Joseph?
- Yes, sir.

Fort Benning, Georgia, six years. Discharged.

- That was a dishonorable discharge?
- Yes.

- Then you moved north?
- That's right.

Before working for the Strubings, you
worked for another family in Greenwich?

Yes, sir.

- They accused you of stealing and fired you.
- Yes, sir.

And when you worked for the Strubings,
did you run into any other difficulties?

- No, sir.
- Did the Strubings treat you well, Joseph?

She was always real nice to me.

What about Mr. Strubing?

Was he mean to you?

He was mean to everybody.

It is what you did. Don't lie to me.

- Watch where you're standing.
- Yes, sir.

Just a second, Joseph. I'm sorry.

That's quite all right, ma'am.

On the night of this incident,

why did you go into Mrs. Strubing's room?

To ask her for money. I had to pay
a man I'd been playing cards with.

What happened when you got to the room?

I knocked on the door.

Come in.

JOSEPH: I could tell she'd
been sad. She was crying.

- Are you okay, ma'am?
- What do you want, Joseph?

It can wait, Mrs. Strubing.

JOSEPH: But she told me
to stay, ask my question.

I told her I needed some
money. She asked what for.

There's a man I owe.


JOSEPH: So she went to the bureau.

She said, "Is this enough for you, Joseph?"
I said, "Yes, ma'am. Thank you."

But she didn't give it to me.

- Then she asked me...
- I'm not awful like him, am I, Joseph?

No, ma'am.


She asked me not to leave her alone that night.

And, uh... I didn't.

SAM: Then what happened?

Well, we went down to the living room,
me and her. We had a drink together.

What did the two of you talk about?

She told me he beats her.

Who beats her?

Who did that?

My husband.

Did she ever resist you, Joseph?

No, she didn't. Not at all.

What happened next?

[EXHALING SHAKILY] We were lying on the sofa.


- [GASPS] Oh, God.

- JOSEPH: And she heard some dogs barking.
- Joseph.

She was convinced somebody was gonna
come to the house and find us together.

Get up. Get up!

- Nobody gonna wake up.

JOSEPH: She started panicking. I told her
there's no one coming. Everything's fine.

But she was insisting on,
"We gotta get out of here.

We gotta get out of here right
now". So we left the house.

We go down to the car, and
we drive around for a bit.

And she sat in the back, so it don't look wrong.

Then, uh... the cop car come up from behind.

She get real scared.

She say... Why don't you
lie down and keep quiet?

- I can't be seen with a colored man.
- I say, "You lie down and keep quiet then".

Don't move. Shh. Shh.

- Oh.
- Shh, shh.

Where'd you get this car, boy?

I'm a chauffeur, sir. Belongs to John
Strubing. Greenwich, Connecticut.

- Identification.
- Yes, sir.

- Drive slower, boy.
- Yes, sir.

- Get your ass out of Port Chester.
- On my way right now, sir. Thank you.

SAM: What happened next?

We get to the reservoir, and,
uh... she scream at me.

Joseph, stop the car. Stop the car!

- Joseph, stop the car!

What's the matter?

She keeps shaking her head and
saying, "What have I done?"

- Everything's gonna be fine, Mrs. Strubing.
- No, no.

Just take a deep breath, okay?

No, no, no, no, you don't
understand. [CRYING]

Maybe we should just go back to the house, huh?

I can't you understand. You don't understand.

- She keeps saying, "I'm gonna get pregnant".
- "No, you ain't," I said.

- You're not gonna get pregnant.
- I can't have a colored child.

You're not gonna have no babies at all, okay?

Now, I say, "Just let me take you home".

And she screamed at me.

Let me out of the car!

I'm gonna tell everybody you raped me!

- She go to open the door, and I grabbed her.
- Let me go!

Just to keep her there. That's
when she scratches my arm.

Mrs. Strubing. Hey. Hey!

Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Mrs. Strubing, Mrs. Strubing,
what you doing up there?

I yell at her to come back, but...

Come on down right now. Let's
get in the car and go home.

She just turned away.

Mrs. Strub...

Joseph, did you rape Mrs. Strubing?

No. I did not.

Thank you, Joseph.

Your witness.

- Not bad.
- You wouldn't lie to the jury,

- would you, Joseph?
- Not bad at all.

No, sir, I wouldn't.

But the fact is, you are a liar, aren't you?

Objection! Argumentative.

Overruled. It's cross-examination.

- He's okay.
- When you married your first wife, Hattie,

you swore to God you'd be
faithful to her, did you not?

- Yes, sir.
- But you weren't. It was a lie.

You could say.

You told her you'd take care
of your children, didn't you?

- Yes, sir.
- But you haven't, have you?

Not so much as I should.

Then you were in the service and
you swore to honor your country.

- But that was a lie too.
- No.

Then you came north and you
stole from your first employer?

When the police picked you up, you lied to
them about your whereabouts the night before.

- Didn't you?
- Yes, I did.

You gave a statement under oath
that you were in a bar all night.


So you lied to your wife, you
lied to the State of Louisiana,

you lied to the police, you lied to God.
Why should anyone believe you now?

I don't know why they should,
except it's the truth.

The truth? If it's the truth, why
not tell it from the beginning?

If you're an innocent man, why lie?

- Why lie, Mr. Spell? Answer the question.
- Tell him, Joseph.

If you were an innocent man, why would you lie?

I tell the police I was with her,
it was what she wanted?

If it's the truth.

In Louisiana, you know what they do to me
for being with a white woman like that?

If they don't kill me right then and there,

soon enough the others come, they...
they drag me off, they tie me up,

they cut off my manhood.

And then I'd be swingin' off
the branch of some tree.

So... why'd I lie, Mr. Willis?

Because the truth gets me killed.

That's why.

I move the answer be stricken.


The answer will stand.

Mr. Willis?

Nothing further, Your Honor.


You know what?

It finally looks like a respectable
law office in here.


- Come in.

There's someone here to see you, Mr. Marshall.


- What are you doing here?
- Can we talk?

I'll just move to Irwin's office.


- Come on, Walter.

What is this?

Fourteen-year-old boy in Mississippi. They
say he killed a cop. He needs a lawyer.

- And I have to leave tonight?
- Uh-huh.

He ready with the summation?

Sam? He will be.

Then there's no reason for you to
stay. I'll take care of everything.

- You get the picture Renie left you?
- Ah, yes.

- Now, what kind of plane is this?
- Ah, she said it's supposed to be you.

- And those are ears, not wings.
- Ah!

She's quite a talent.

You were right, you know.

- About what?
- "Why would she lie?"


That is the question we needed to answer.


I'm thankful... Renie got to see
there's men like you in the world.

I don't understand how you can
leave before closing arguments.

Doesn't do anyone any good having
me sit around waiting on a verdict.

What if something comes up?

The case is in, Sam.

Walter will represent the NAACP.
And you'll be there for Spell.


Sam, did you know I only have one testicle?

Um... no.


In my college years, I found myself
running from a gang of bigots

in a part of town they didn't
believe I should be in.

My buddies, they're ahead of me in a truck.

I jump for the back, and I'm pulling myself up,
but there's a jagged spike of metal I don't see.

It slashes right through my sack.


Why am I telling you this?

Well, I want you to know that even sitting in
the back of that pickup, my scrotum torn,

every bump sending shocks of
pain down my leg, even that...

wasn't as excruciating as
sitting there watching you,

- argue this case these past few weeks.


- But I did learn something.
- Huh?

I need an army of lawyers just like you, Sam.

Lawyers who don't even know
they want to make a difference,

who with just a little bit of training
can be just as capable as me.

Well, almost as capable.

And until then what?

You just travel around the
country on this crusade?

Putting out fires in Mississippi,
Oklahoma, Bridgeport?

It's not really fires I'm after, Sam.

It's fire itself.

Get out your pen now.

Here's the closing argument you're gonna give.

Who is telling the truth?

A woman from a fine family with
an unblemished background,

or a depraved man,

a repeat criminal with no morals,

a man whose whole life has been
composed of a series of lies?

Did this decent, church-going, intelligent
woman, the graduate of a top college,

engage in voluntary sexual relations
with her Negro servant

and then jump into the water, for what?

For pleasure, as the defense would
have you believe? Of course not.

Joseph Spell raped Eleanor Strubing.

Then he hurled her over the bridge to
kill the only witness to his crime.

Acquit him, and you will set a wild panther
loose in our midst to stalk more victims,

to threaten the safety and security

of each and every woman in
the State of Connecticut.

As a jury, you have been exposed to
the darkness of a sinister man's soul.

But you're also in a position of great privilege.

Because you...

you have the power

to do justice... on behalf of all of us.

- [WHISPERS] Bullshit.
- Thank you.

And God bless.

Mr. Friedman.

Why would a woman like Eleanor Strubing

consent... no, encourage... sexual
relations with a man like Joseph Spell?

Let me tell you why.

Eleanor Strubing's story is
nothing less than tragic.

She is a respectable woman from a fine family.

She attended the best schools. She went
to church each and every Sunday.

As the good book says, she was
"spotless as the lamb of God".

She was "spotless as the lamb of God".

She and her husband John move to Greenwich.

Oh, he travels frequently,

leaving her alone, in a new town,

away from her friends and family,

in a vast, empty house.

The pangs of loneliness hit hard.

She has some drinks.

A knock at the door.

- Joseph.
- Joseph.

She was not expecting this.

A young man, a handsome man.

In a moment of weakness, her judgment
impaired by the alcohol of the evening...

Consumed by loneliness,

she invites him to share
her bed to ease her pain.

As the evening goes on, she becomes panicked

that they will be discovered.

She must leave the house, must escape her sin.

- What if she is pregnant...
- And with a colored child?

What if her husband were to find
out? What would he do to her?

She cannot live with the fear, the shame.

So then there they are, at the reservoir.

An opportunity to escape her life, her despair.

Joseph tries to hold her back, but she
wrangles free, runs from the car.

THURGOOD: And she plummets into the water.

Only as soon as she hits the surface,

her years of training take over.

See, she is a swimmer.

And she simply cannot drown.

With the zeal to end her life gone,

her only escape...

She must accuse him.

And so a story is created.

A web of...

desperate lies

filled with inconsistencies, absurdities,

reasonable doubts.

The State must prove its case
beyond a reasonable doubt.

SAM: It must be a clear case.

No scream for help all night long.


No call on the four family phones.


No cry to the officer just a few feet away.


No rocks on a bridge.


Doubt, doubt, doubt.

The doubt, my friends,

is overwhelming.

This is why you must find
Joseph Spell not guilty.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,

you've heard the arguments of counsel.

You may now retire to the jury
room to begin your deliberations.

Court is in recess.



Who is it?

THURGOOD: It's me.


You're supposed to be on a train.

I have a little time.

I heard you were looking for me.

Well, Friedman, it seems
you have beginner's luck.

John Strubing just called me.

This whole thing has been a terrible
strain on Ellie, as you can imagine.

They want it over, now.

I'm prepared to offer one final deal.

- What is it?
- Five years.

He'll have to enter a guilty plea right
away and admit he lied on the stand.

- I'll speak with him.
- Do it now.

If the jury comes back in, the deal is off.

You'd be out after three
years, with good behavior.

- Possibly sooner.
- You think I should take it?

I don't know what the jury will
do. It's... it's a good deal.

And if they, convict me?

Most likely you'll spend the rest
of your life in a prison cell.

And I got to decide right away?

What I gotta do for the deal?

Admit that you raped her and that
you lied on the witness stand.

Can I talk to Mr. Marshall?

Ah... he's on a train probably
somewhere in Tennessee by now.

I... I would never be able to reach him in time.

What do you think he would say?



So, give me good news.

No deal.

You did advise him to accept, hmm?

I told him it was a good offer.

I told him what the alternative is. I told
him... if it was me, I would take it.

And I told him that no man should ever
confess to a crime he did not commit.

I thought Jews were supposed to be smart.

But you sound just like the Negro.

Why, thank you, Lorin.

That's possibly the greatest
compliment you could've given me.

There's a verdict.

FOSTER: Will the foreman please rise.

I'm the forewoman, Your Honor.

Very well.

- Have you reached a verdict?
- We have, Your Honor.

Mr. Spell.

- Rise and face the jury.
- [WHISPERS] It's time.

Madame Forewoman, what is your verdict?

We, the jury, find, on the charge of rape,
that the defendant, Joseph Spell,

is not guilty.





Is this your verdict, so say you all?

ALL: We do, Your Honor.

That's it, Joseph.

- We did it.
- Mr. Spell, the jury has found you not guilty.

You are released from custody.

Jury is dismissed. Court is adjourned.

- BAILIFF: All rise.

- Congratulations, Mr. White.
- Thank you.


Mr. Spell.

Hi. I'm Tad Lancaster.

Mr. Marshall thought you might
need a place to sleep tonight.

[LAUGHS] Oh, Mr. Marshall.


Hello? [CLEARS THROAT] Hello.


Sam, I can barely hear you.

- Is there a verdict yet?
- Yeah. Yeah, it's me.

- [HEAVY STATIC] Sam, are you there?
- Yeah.

- Yes, can you hear me?
- Sam?

Not guilty! We did it!

- What?
- Not guilty! Not guilty!

Not guilty.

- [STATIC] Not guilty!
- Sam!

- Yes!
- Oh!

Yes. We won!

Sam, I told you. I told you.

I told you, you could bring it home. I told you.

- Yeah! Yes, we did it!

- Ah.

- I'm having trouble hearing you.
- Sam, are you there? Are you there?

- Thurgood!




- Oh, Luis.
- Marshall!

- Your wife still putting up with you?
- Look at me.

She dress me from head to toe.

Got me looking as sharp as you.

God bless you. We really need your help.

I promise you I'll do everything
in my power to help him.

Thank you for coming, Mr. Marshall.

- We really need you in Mississippi.
- My pleasure.

Let's get going.

Are you hungry?

You know, I very nearly ate
my briefcase on that train.

WOMAN: Well, when we get to the
house, I'll fix you a nice supper.

THURGOOD: That'll be nice. You can fill me
in on everything that's going on down here.

WOMAN: Can you slow down a little?
I got my good Sunday shoes on.


WOMAN: # You can have all
the money in your hands #

# All the possessions anyone can ever have #

# But it's all worthless treasure #

# True worth is only measured
not by what you got #

# But what you got in your heart #

# You can have, you can have everything #

# What does it, what does it mean? #

# It all means nothing #

# If you don't stand up for something #

# You can't just talk the talk #

# You got to walk that walk #

# Yes, you do #

# It all means nothing #

# If you don't stand up for something #

# And I stand up for you
and I stand up for you #

# Yes, I will, yes, I will #

# You do the best that, do
the best that you can do #

# Then you can look in the mirror #

# Proud of who's looking back at you #

# Define the life you're living #

# Not by what you take
but what you're giving #

# And if you bet on love #

# There's no way you'll ever lose #

# Take a stand, make a stand #

# For what's right #

# It's always worth always worth the fight #

# It all means nothing #

# If you don't stand up for something #

# You can't just talk the talk #

# You got to walk that walk #

# Yes, you do #

# It all means nothing #

# If you don't stand up for something #

# And I stand up for you #

# Stand for respect, dignity #

# If that's all you got then
you got all you need #

# And without that you don't have a thing #

# Oh, no, no #

[MAN RAPPING] # Rise up love, lift your hands #

# I stand with you 'cause I understand #

# Ain't here to judge, just to take a stand #

# The greater plan's, the creator's plan #

# Let's all rise like the day began #

# Reach out and touch
with the savior's hand #

# On rock, we stand like this native land #

- # Let the ways of love be the ways of man #
- WOMAN: # And it all means nothing, oh #

# If you don't stand for something #

# You can't just talk the talk #

# You got to walk that walk #

# Yes, you do #

# It all means nothing #

# If you don't stand up for something #

# And I stand up for you oh, yeah #

# I stand up for you #

# And I stand up for you #

# Stand up for you #

# Yes, I will, yes, I will #


You know, there's so many people...

indeed, my own sons, at times...

look at me with an expression on the face

that they don't believe what
happened in the past.

There are movements by the different
branches in this government

that are set to push back.

Oh, now it's being done, you know, cleverly.

# Mm-mm-mm #

# Mm-mm-mm #

# Mm-mm-mm #

# Mm-mm-mm #