-Directed by Joel Schumacher
-Stars Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Ashley Judd, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Spacey.
-Set in Canton, Mississippi, the film revolves around the rape of a young girl and the arrest of the rapists and their murder by the girl's father, Carl Lee Hailey. The rest of the movie focuses on his trial.
Did You Know?
-2 white racists, Billy Ray Cobb(Nicky Katt) and Pete Willard(Doug Hutchinson) come across a 10 year old black girl named Tonya Hailey(Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly) in rural Mississippi. They violently rape and beat her, and dump her in a nearby river after a failed hanging. She survives, and her attackers are arrested
-The rape and murder revenge killing gain national attention. The Ku Klux Klan begin to organize in the area, along with Dan Scott. Freddie Lee Cobb(Kiefer Sutherland), the brother of Billy Ray, calls Brigance and his family with death threats and organizes the formation of a Klan chapter in the county. The DA, Rufus Buckley(Kevin Spacey), decides to seek the death penalty and the presiding judge Omar Noose(Patrick McGoohan) denies Brigance a change of venue. Brigance seeks help from a sleazy divorce lawyer named Harry Rex Vonner(Oliver Platt). He seeks help from a liberal activist named Lucien Wilbanks(Donald Sutherland), who was a lawyer but disbarred for violence on a picket line.
-Brigance is approached by Ellen Roark(Sandra Bullock), a law student from Massachusetts. He is hesitant to accept her help, but later accepts. The trial begins. The Klan burns a cross on Brigance's lawn because one of their members is in the courthouse. This causes some tension between Brigance and his wife to the point that if Jake had heeded Hailey's warning, this would not have happened. The police evacuate Jake and his family out and they capture one of the Klan members and find a bomb under his house.
-As the trial begins, the KKK march down the streets of Canton and meet a large group of black protesters at the court. Chaos erupts when the police lose control. A black teen kills the KKK Grand Dragon(Kurtwood Smith) with a Molotov Cocktail, burning him to death. Brigance's attraction to Roark grows and they nearly have an affair before he gets his wits. He goes home to find his home burned to the ground. The next morning, the Mississippi National Guard have been called in to take care of the riots. Brigance sits on the smoking steps of his home to see Rex Vonner walking up and tell him to quit the case. Brigance says that to quit his work would be useless.
-Freddie Lee Cobb shoots at Brigance as he exits the courthouse. He misses, and the bullet hits a national guardsman, paralyzing him. Meanwhile, Roark is kidnapped by Klansmen, tied to a tree in the wilderness in nothing but her bra and underwear and left to die. She is saved by an informant with a Mickey Mouse tattoo who goes by the code name "Mickey" whose name is Tim Nunley(John Diehl). Brigance sees Carl Lee in his cell and advises him to accept a lower plea.
-The courthouse is packed to see the trial. Brigance tells the people to close their eyes and listen to a story. He paints a picture for them, describing in slow, and painfully clear detail, of how 10 year old Tonya Hailey was raped, beaten. He asks them to imagine she's white. This raises the very real spectre in the community- within the racist community where the crime took place the actions of Hailey would not have been called into question had he been white. The argument Brigance makes is that if the jury can be compelled to spare the life of a white man for a vengeful murder, they must do the same for a black man. Later, a black child runs out of the court shouting "He's innocent!" Cheering ensues, and the KKK become enraged. Sheriff Ozzie Walls(Charles S. Dutton) arrests Freddie Lee, along with his own racist deputy. The movie ends with Brigance bringing his wife and daughter to a family cookout at Carl Lee's house. He is surprised and Jake explains "Just thought our kids could play together". And this gets a smile out of Carl.
- Sandra Bullock as Ellen Roark, a law student working free for the defense
- Samuel L. Jackson as Carl Lee Hailey, defendant
- Matthew McConaughey as Jake Brigance, defense attorney for Carl Lee Hailey
- Kevin Spacey as Rufus Buckley, prosecuting attorney
- Brenda Fricker as Ethel Twitty, secretary to Brigance
- Oliver Platt as Harry Rex Vonner, attorney assisting defense
- Charles S. Dutton as Ozzie Walls, Canton Sheriff
- Ashley Judd as Carla Brigance, Jake's wife
- Patrick McGoohan as Judge Omar Noose, presiding judge
- Kiefer Sutherland as Freddie Lee Cobb, Billy Ray's racist brother
- Donald Sutherland as Lucien Wilbanks, a disbarred lawyer and Jake's mentor
- John Diehl as Tim Nunley, a Klansman, later informant (Mickey Mouse)
- Doug Hutchison as James Louis "Pete" Willard, a rapist
- Nicky Katt as Billy Ray Cobb, a rapist
- Chris Cooper as Dwayne Looney, the deputy accidentally shot by Hailey
- Anthony Heald as Dr. Wilbert Rodeheaver, state psychiatrist
- Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly as Tonya Hailey, Carl Lee's daughter, rape victim