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A Time to Kill

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A Time to Kill

The law field is one of controversy and uncertainty. Many people have suffered the loss or injury of a loved one due to the crime of another. I believe the justice system as it is written on paper is flawless. Those who practice law or are sworn to uphold the law are the ones who carry the flaws. At times the fault can fall on no one, for we are all human and humans are not perfect. The movie A Time to Kill was one of trial and tribulations during a time where many had one track minds. Although I have seen the movie more than ten times, every time it ends I'm left with the thought of, "What would I do in that situation?"

The movie A Time to Kill is based on the novel by John Grisham, A Time to Kill. In the movie, a young ten year old girl, Tonya, is walking home from the store when she is brutally raped and beaten by two drunken racist white men. After being checked out by doctors, Tonya is okay but has been told she will never bear children. It is the 60s and racism is still ever so present in the small town of Clanton, Mississippi. Carl Lee Hailey, father of the girl, takes it upon himself to revenge the rape and brutality of his daughter. After recalling a case where four white boys who raped a black girl were set free, Hailey decides to gun down the two men in the courtroom the day of their arraignment. Hailey is now on trial for murder and asks for the help of Mr. Jake Brigance. Brigance is a young lawyer starting his practice and decides to defend Hailey. To help him win the trial and get justice for Hailey, Brigance enlists the help of his best friend, Harry Rex Vonner, his mentor, Lucien Wilbanks and a law student, Ellen Roark. Through no coincidence, the brother of one of the men Hailey shot is a Ku Klux Klan member. Because of the connection, throughout the trial Brigance and his team have to deal with kidnappings, threatening phone calls, burning crosses and a bombing attempt. Regardless of the tribulations they must overcome, Brigance and his team prevail.

This movie was filled with unethical or illegal actions committed by all parties. The major issue was because of the racism the town carried, the judge as well as the D.A. had a bias in the case. Neither one of them should have been participating in the trial. I feel throughout out most of the movie, Brigance acted within the law but he had Roark and Vonner doing his dirty work. To get evidence, the two had to sneak into buildings and offices and steal the information necessary to make their case. Also, they paid people for information which again is highly unethical. If a witness has information that you feel is credible and necessary you can have that person summoned to court. Vonner, being a practicing lawyer, could have been disbarred and even thrown in jail for his actions. He was a divorce attorney but was helping Brigance with the murder case, subjecting him to disbarment. Roark could have never been licensed for her part in all the scheming. She was only a law student and once she went up for the bar exam, she could have been denied. Brigance, knowing what they were doing, could have also been disbarred or reprimanded somehow. Being the head attorney, he is in charge of all those who are under him. His faults lie in trying to get Hailey acquitted of his charges; he is actually serving a higher purpose. I feel Brigance knew Hailey did not act entirely on passion and rage as he had claimed in court, but rather out of revenge. Hailey's fear was that his daughters' rapists were not going to be brought to justice so he took it upon himself to make sure they paid. Brigance felt it was most important to prove a black man could get a fair trial in Mississippi. The D.A. was corrupt and a racist himself. He would work with the Ku Klux Kan and defend their wrongful actions. Not only could he have been fired, being that he is supposed to represent he "state", he would have been disbarred and prosecuted. There are laws that protect people from being victims against racist crimes. Luckily, they chose a jury fairly and were able to get an actual non-corrupted decision. Last, almost every witness that spoke committed perjury. Those who commit perjury are usually sentenced to jail for lying under oath.




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