Criminal Law

Synopsis: A rising young attorney successfully defends a man accused of murder, only to have the same type of murder then happen again. Right away the previously defended man hires the attorney again, and although the attorney is quite certain that he is the killer, he agrees to again defend him... much to the consternation of his friends. However, he explains that by being his attorney he will be better able to catch the man in a mistake... and on this the rest of the film develops, with the killer playing a cat and mouse game with the attorney until, at last, they both must recognize that they are not all that different.
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Director(s): Martin Campbell
Production: HBO Video
  1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
117 min


Okay, keep it moving.

Keep it moving.

We all wanna

get home tonight. Okay.

Okay, down the alley and turn right.

Come on. You're clear.

Come on. Keep coming.

That's it. Right there.

This was a horrible crime.

A tragedy for those involved.

A terrifying enigma to us

who view the aftermath.

I don't even know how such things happen.

But if we did not have a responsibility

to see justice done, we would look away.

For to comprehend such an act

would be to plunge

into the darkest waters of the human heart.

Fortunately, our task here is much simpler.

It is as simple and as clear as,


It is as simple and as clear

as this glass

of pure water.

In order to prevent another tragedy,

the destruction of yet another life,

you need only decide whether the right

man stands accused of the crime.

Now to help you with that decision,

I will show you.

I will show you that the prosecution's case

rests almost entirely

on eyewitness identification.

Well, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Eyewitness identification.

But in the course of this trial,

I will demonstrate something

that the prosecution will not mention.

That eyewitness identification is generally

the most unreliable form of evidence.

And that this particular

identification is totally unreliable.

So that when we are done here,

your decision will be perfectly,




Disposable diapers?


I picked up some orange

juice while I was there.

For breakfast, you know. Yeah,

but you went for diapers.

At that hour?

Yes. I needed them

right away.


Objection, Your Honor.

If Mr. Chase doesn't know why a

mother would need diapers...

Mr. Chase, you are coming to a

relevant point, are you not?

Mrs. Monroe,

don't you usually buy them

before you need them?

Yes, but I ran out.

I could have sworn...

I mean, I was sure I saw them

in the hall closet, but I...


I was wrong.

You were wrong

about something as familiar

and recognizable as

a box of your baby's diapers.

But you are absolutely sure

you are not wrong

about a man you saw for one moment

through the rain, across the street,

in the poor light at the head of an alley?

Your honor, I object to this

entire line of questioning.

There is no connection

between the witness' inventory of diapers

and her identification of the defendant.


Mr. Chase,

do you wish to rephrase

the question regarding the identification?

No, Your Honor.

That's all.

The witness may step down.

We will adjourn until

tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M.

Members of the jury, do not discuss

this case among yourselves.

Good evening.

Why is the district attorney like a diaper?

Because they're both full of sh*t.

This is very funny.

I'm going to owe my freedom

to disposable diapers.

And to you.

I'll give it to you tomorrow.

Just be sure you leave

the flap on the envelope loose

so it's easy to open, okay.

Yeah, good.

Yeah, I'll meet you a half an hour early

and we'll run through it once more.

Yeah, okay.

See you then. Yeah, bye.

I don't know about you.

You've asked for two adjournments already.

Morning, Jean.

That good?

We're supposed to hold this kid...

I came to look at you.

You used to be a good prosecutor.

So now I'm a good defender.

I just switched teams.

Is this about the eyewitness?

We did the ID procedure by the book.

She was sure all the way.

She's still sure.

I thought that meant something.

Yeah, it did mean something.

It was the point to win.

So, you think the jury doubts her?


Yeah, me, too.

I can't take any chances.

Come in and watch.


She sees the body every time

she tells her story.

So do I.

Me, too.

I saw the pictures.

You saw the pictures.

Come on, Jean.

You know better than that.

How can you be certain she saw my client,

not somebody who looks a lot like him?

Certain enough to be judge,

jury and executioner?

You're just pissed

because your marbles got knocked out of

the game. We're not playing marbles.

A woman was raped and butchered, remember?

And I'm not even sure which came first.


I got a job to do.

So do I.

The last witness for the defense is Mr.

Hobart Jackson.

Please raise your right hand.

Do you swear to tell the truth,

the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,

so help you God?

I do.

State and spell your name for the record.

Hobart Jackson.


Mr. Jackson,

the crime in question here was committed

on the night of September 12th of last year.

Now, where were you on that day?

In the State Penitentiary at Cradduck.

And why were you there?

I was serving a life sentence for murder.

Your honor, if this man was

incarcerated at the time of the crime,

I don't see the relevancy...

Cut to the point,

Mr. Chase.

You were tried, convicted

and sentenced to life.

Life without possibility of parole.

But you're a free man now?

Yeah. They got the right guy.

This guy.

Your honor, this is an outrage.

The eyewitness was wrong about me.

I move that it be stricken.

Mr. Chase,

this is highly irregular.

Well, I got off with a warning.


I thought you were gonna be in here with me.

It was worth the risk.

Well calculated, obviously.

I'm fascinated by all this.

I thought about law school once.

A long time ago. It's a good

thing I decided against it.

I couldn't do what you do.

It's more perspiration than inspiration.

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Mark Kasdan

Mark Kasdan is an American screenwriter and film producer known for such films as Criminal Law, Silverado and Dreamcatcher. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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