Judge Garth is asked to run against a younger man for a judgeship. When Betsy asks him if he will run, he reminds her of a promise he made to her ten years earlier when she was five. At that time Garth as the local judge had to confront a capital case. A jury found Billy Carewe guilty of first degree murder. He was a member of the Carewe family who had terrorized Medicine Bow before the family went to Montana. Five of the family members return to Medicine Bow led by Jake Carewe to seek Billy's release. They try legal means via a rookie attorney who defended Billy and now tries to provide Judge Garth with an out on the case but they are rebuffed by Judge Garth. They threaten the town with destruction by fire causing the citizens to ask Garth to release the prisoner. At the same time the new sheriff quits the job when the Carewes rough him up and after Judge Garth learns he has been seeing Garth's intended Alice Finley without Garth's knowledge. The Judge is forced to think creatively ...