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In 1940, Thurgood Marshall is a young lawyer for the NAACP who criss-crosses the country defending innocent African-Americans from unjust indictments in court. His latest case is in Bridgeport, Connecticut where an African-American chauffeur is accused of rape of a wealthy white society woman. To admit Marshall into the local Bar, insurance lawyer Sam Friedman is picked over his objections to do introductions in court. However, Friedman's commitment changes drastically when the racist judge forbids Marshall to speak in court, forcing Friedman to act as lead counsel. Now in an intolerable situation for the pair, Marshall must guide his new compatriot through this criminal trial even as Friedman endures not only this unfamiliar area of law, but also the bigoted pressure he now must share. However, the case proves more complex than either anticipates with unexpected twists and turns even as it becomes a vital one that would define two careers as well as the fight for justice in America.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
In the early 1940s, Marshall gives Friedman, whose experience is in civil law, books to get him up to speed on criminal law. However, none of the books focus on criminal law. The first, A Concise Restatement of Torts, Second Edition, about civil law, was published in 1965. The two volumes of Wigmore on Evidence are the McNaughton Revision, published in 1961. Evidentiary law discussed in Wigmore applies in both criminal and civil cases, so Friedman, a trial lawyer, would already be familiar with it. The fourth was Volume 308 of the United States Reports, which published all the US Supreme Court opinions for the 1939 October term. See more »
Excellent courtroom movie about the young Thurgood Marshall is tense and witty
This enjoyable and inspiring movie is a worthy contribution to the courtroom movie genre. It memorializes the great Thurgood Marshall (who later won Brown v. Bd. of Education and sat on the Supreme Court). The film brings to life a forgotten rape case in Connecticut that Marshall tried early in his career when he was the solo staff lawyer at the NAACP. The story focuses on the plight of a black man accused of raping a white woman and it highlights issues of racism in the courtroom and on the streets. The movie recalls the classic fllms "To Kill a Mockingbird" (which also involved a black on white rape case) and "Anatomy of a Murder" (which also involved sexual issues and in which--like many real trials--we're never sure just what actually happened and who is telling the truth). The writing is sharp and witty and the acting and direction are great. Particularly strong is the emerging partnership and friendship of Marshall and the local lawyer, Sam Friedman, who had never tried a criminal case and thought he would just sit next to Marshall during the trial and and do nothing. But the judge forces Friedman to conduct the trial with Marshall serving as his adviser--and he rises to the occasion.
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