The Judge (2014) | Transcript

Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth; along the way he reconnects with his estranged family.
The Judge (2014)

The Judge (2014)
Director: David Dobkin
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Leighton Meester, Billy Bob Thornton, David Krumholtz, Vera Farmiga, Melissa Leo, Vincent D’Onofrio, Sarah Lancaster, Dax Shepard, Balthazar Getty, Emma Tremblay, Jeremy Strong, Grace Zabriskie, Ian Nelson, Ken Howard

Plot: Hank Palmer is a successful defense attorney in Chicago, who is getting a divorce. When his brother calls with the news that their mother has died, Hank returns to his childhood home to attend the funeral. Despite the brittle bond between Hank and the Judge, Hank must come to his father’s aid and defend him in court. Here, Hank discovers the truth behind the case, which binds together the dysfunctional family and reveals the struggles and secrecy of the family.

* * *


MIKE: You’re not getting away with this.

Palmer, you asshole… Hey!

Yeah. Oops.

Stop. You meant to do that.

Did that just happen?

No, you startled me.

Yeah, you meant to do that.

No, I don’t think I did.

Listen, this wasn’t some West Englewood drug sweep. The search was good.

There’s no chance Carter tosses it.

Calm down. That’s why they call it an evidentiary hearing.

What, so you can smear me? lmply that I invented a phantom witness?

Did you?

The jaded lawyer…

…with no respect for the law. That’s original.

That’s me?

I respect the law just fine. I’m just not in awe of it. I’m not encumbered by it.

If the great state of Illinois can’t meet its burden of proof…

…if I walk with a guilty client, it’s on you.

So I suggest you do your job, Kattan.


Now, if you’d like to finish that cliché you followed me into the pisser to unload…

Did it involve my reflection? Maybe sleeping at night, how do I do it?

I do it on a Tempur-Pedic bed, in a Highland Park home…

…with a Ferrari, next to a loving wife…

…with the ass of a high-school volleyballer.

And how does it feel, Hank?

Knowing every person you represent is guilty?

It’s fine.

Innocent people can’t afford me.


Burden of proof, Kattan.

Wait, wait, wait. You said this wouldn’t go to trial.

I’m sorry, did I say that?

I hired you to make this go away.


You hired me because we both know you wouldn’t last two days in a federal penitentiary.

Stop telling me how to do my job. Do I tell you how to commit fraud…

…deny coverage to terminally ill policy holders…

…or embezzle 140 million dollars while you’re at it?

I wouldn’t do that, because that’s your gig. That’s your forte.

I’m hearing you. HANK: I’m glad.


BAILIFF: All rise.

Court is in session. The Honorable Judge Stanley Carter presiding.

CARTER: Be seated.

Before I rule on the defense motion, is there anything either counsel would care to add?

MIKE: Yes, Your Honor.

We would like to remove any doubt as to the validity of our search.

Your Honor, can I…

…approach, Your Honor?


I, uh, need a continuance.

Absolutely not.

My mom passed away this morning.

MIKE: My ass.


I’ll replay it.

Is this the first time your mom passed away…

…or is it something you do on all cases you’re about to lose?

I’m sorry for your loss.

Thank you. First time. What a schmuck you are.

You know, he peed on me.

Just now, in the restroom down the hall. He turned around and…

Mr. Kattan, step away.

GIRL: Daddy, are you sad about your mom?

HANK: Yeah, baby. I wish you’d met her.

Why can’t I go with you?

Because it’s depressing. You don’t wanna go.

So Grandpa Palmer’s dead too?

No, Grandpa Palmer’s dead to me. That’s like a figure of speech.

You might have misheard something I said.

Sounds complicated. I should go with you.

Trust me, nobody wants to go to Carlinville, Indiana.

Everybody wants to leave.

You looking for something? Hmm?

You got my Bit O’Honey, old man?

Check it out.

I love you, baby.

Don’t eat it before breakfast.

Got you.


Is there something I can do?

They’re my in-laws. I feel like we should…

Lou Shrubner. That’s your divorce attorney?

He’s good.

She’ll be living with me, by the way.



What time does school start in the morning?

What’s her teacher’s name?

[IN DISTANT VOICE] Brownie meetings are which night? Soccer?

What’s her favorite color?

Who’s her best friend? What does she eat for breakfast?

Do you even know her pediatrician’s name? His phone number? You got that on you?

I’m not gonna let you punish her for this, okay? She understands.

She knows it’s not right that her daddy’s never home before her bedtime.

[IN NORMAL VOICE] He’s always on his phone.

She knows it’s not right that her mom is sad all the time.

Sad? You’re sad?


I’m sorry you felt so sad you got on Facebook…

…friended your old Gore-Tex-wearing college buddy Josh and fucked him.

He’s so rugged. He’s so wise.

I don’t know why you’re not hanging off a mountain with him right now.


Wanna do something for me?

Water the fucking hydrangeas.

Thank you.

Brr. Oh, God, here we go.


Nothing changes.

Hey, Hank.

Hey, Dale.

Mm. Missed you.

Her heart just kind of turned off.


I found her by the hydrangeas.

Good job.

Oh. This is St. Francis. I picked. Because he was her favorite.

Friend to the birds, like Mom. Oh.

Gotta remember to put food out for them, especially in the winter.


He’s gentle, like Mom used to be.

Ran the snakes out of Indiana, and don’t ask me how.

Ireland. Out of Ireland?

Snakes are your constant, but St. Patrick, not St. Francis…

…and it was Ireland, not Indiana.

Trust me, no one’s dispersing reptiles in Indiana.

Were you there?

I was not there.

Maybe you’re right.

Hank Palmer in Carlinville.

There he is.

DALE: The cardinal is the state bird and…


Hey, Glen.

I just saw you a few minutes ago.

Where’d you park?

I’m on the street.

I’m parked up…

Tried to get a space in the big lot. I had to go around.

But eventually I found one.

Here you go.

Where’s the family?

Couldn’t make it. School.

Oh. I didn’t know kids in Chicago go to school in the summer.

There isn’t. They just do… They got… I’m alone.

What’s the story?

HANK: There is no story. GLEN: Huh.

JOSEPH: Do you have anything else to say for yourself, Mr. Williams?

Anything that would enlighten us concerning your situation?

What do you wanna hear?

You know, nobody’s hiring.

You can’t get spinach out of a turnip.

I can’t afford to pay child support.

JOSEPH: You can’t, huh?

That your new truck out front?

WILLIAMS: Which one?


“‘Yeah’ is not an affirmation…”

“Yeah” is not an affirmation a man uses in court.

Yes, sir… Judge, Your Honor. JOSEPH: Keys.

Go on. Pitch them.

And, uh…


Augustus, judge.

Yeah, of course. Gus.


Would you give those to Mr. Williams’ ex-wife, please?

Then escort Mr. Williams to his ex-truck.

You’re gonna sign that over to her.

And you, ma’am, are gonna go down to DeVaney Motors…

…ask for Mike DeVaney, the father, not the nitwit son…

…and sell your new truck back to him…

…for whatever the turnip there put down on it.

This ain’t fair…

Hey! One more word. Go on.

Look around you.

You’re standing in one of the last great cathedrals in this country…

…built on the premise that you and you alone are responsible…

…for the consequences of your actions.

Now, you still want fair? All right.

Head north. Stop when you get to Indianapolis.

Tractor pulls, cotton candy…

…kettle corn and the world’s largest steer.

First week in August. You’ll love it.

Oh, I forgot. Wait, wait, wait.

You don’t have a truck.


Thank you very much, judge.

Want me to tell you what causes that, ma’am?



Thank you, fellas. Appreciate you all being here.

But who’s out guarding the doughnut shop? OFFICERS: Ha, ha.

WOMAN 1: She was a good woman, Joseph. JOSEPH: Yes, she was.

MAN 1: Grace and I are here if you need anything.

Thank you so much. Thank you.

WOMAN 2: We all loved Mary. JOSEPH: Thank you. It means a lot to me.

MAN 2: Sorry for your loss.

JOSEPH: Good friends, always.

MAN 3: Good to see you, sir. JOSEPH: Chief. Good man. Hey.

Thanks for coming. Appreciate it.

Yeah. Whole force out, huh?





Oh, Johnny Boy. Yeah. MAN 5: I’m so sorry.


Yeah. Thank you, Rose.


I’m gonna shower up and hit the rack.

Uh, Glen, make sure you hold your boys together tomorrow.

We don’t want a lot of caterwauling.

Will do, judge. JOSEPH: Yeah.

I get it’s been a while, Hank…

…but backing a car into a driveway to make getting out easier is a concept…

…not dulled by time.

Thank you.

JOSEPH: Right?

Got it.

Be my guest. Please.

How you doing? DALE: I had to water the plants.

JOSEPH: You gonna be okay at the funeral tomorrow?

Yeah. That camera makes an appearance, we both know where it’s heading, right?


Up my ass.

JOSEPH: Good man.

Tough day.

HANK: Yep.

At the wake, he shakes my hand while he’s hugging everyone else.

This family’s a fucking Picasso painting.


DALE: Your room has all Dad’s important stuff.

It’s crazy. I mean…


Magic 8-Ball.

Mm-hm. It is certain.

[OVER SPEAKERS] We know it’s wrong

To let this fire burn between us

DALE: Hey, Hank. Want some breakfast?

Better hustle if you do.

“Hey, Hank, going to breakfast at the diner. Care to join?”

“Okay, when?” “Right now.”

“Oh, yeah. Can I throw on some pants?” “Sure. You’re a family member.”

Any of that sound reasonable?

Coming here every Saturday for the last 35…

Oh, I forgot, today’s about you.


JOSEPH: Let’s go.

We’re two people caught up in the flame

We’ll see you there, Hank.

I’ll be right along.

I didn’t mean to start this fire

And neither did you

SAM: Still letting him wind you up?


And we’ll sweep out the ashes

Henry. HANK: Ah.

I’m surprised you still work here.

In a good way.

In the way that people are surprised when somebody you know is…

You discover they’ve had the same job for…

…20 years… Stop it.

You kept your hair.

Like sawing sawdust, all that worry for nothing.

Any other fears come true?

Yes. Just now.

Old girlfriends, seeing them.

Stop staring. I know I look good.

I’m sorry about your mom.

She and I stayed close. Gee, I just saw her Tuesday.

Mysterious ways.

I’m assuming you still know where the cemetery is?

You’re invited. Of course you are.

Wolf it. You gotta go.

Surprised I am.

See you there.


You’ve always been my sweetheart…

…and you always will be.

I want you to know that.

I’ll be back tomorrow.


And every day after that.

Bye. Bye-bye.

AMY: Come on, Joe, give your brother a break. DALE: Hank’s feet are on the couch.



Hey, Glen, my nephews still playing ball?

Think either of them could ever be as good as you?


Yes, Joe is hitting cleanup on varsity.

Eric wouldn’t know a baseball if you threw it at him and it hit him in the head.

Anyway, for what it’s worth?

None of my business…

Keep an eye on the judge. I think he’s…

He’s drinking.

Are you crazy? Dad has been sober for 28 years.

I was at the courthouse. He forgot Gus’s name.

Gus? Gus the bailiff.

Oh, come on.

HANK: Just saying.

That’s bullshit. What time is your flight tomorrow?

HANK: Eight-fifteen. Can’t wait.

First flight out.

Make yourself at home there, Henry.

I’m going for groceries.

Should Glen drive you? JOSEPH: I don’t know, Dale.

Does being widowed make me a lousy goddamn driver?


Hank, if I don’t see you before you…

Before you leave, uh…

…thanks for coming.

I’m sure your mother would have appreciated it.



Honey, we’re gonna go to Firefly for a drink.


GLEN: Come on.

I’m gonna go to bed.

GLEN: No. Drink.


GLEN: Dale, you coming?

You coming?

Hank, he threw things at us to get our attention, not to draw blood.

You know that, right? HANK: No.

He issued canine commands to get our attention.

He hurled periodicals for sport.

GLEN: Please, with all the trouble you made, you’re lucky that’s all you got.

MAN 1: Hey, thanks for showing up, Carla.

Yeah, I know I’m late, Billy. So sue me.

Go give some grown-ups drinks, please. CARLA: Oh.

He was tough, but, aw, come on, it wasn’t that bad.

Remember fishing?

I remember the lake house.

Yeah, that’s right. He used to tell us all to be quiet.

ALL: “You’re scaring the fish away.”

Ha, ha. HANK: Mm-hm.

DALE: And he still goes there every Wednesday to play chess with Doc Morris.

He loves that place.

MAN 2: Hey, don’t I know you?

Don’t you run the tire-and-rim shop over on State?

That’s right. MAN 2: Palmer?

I know you too.

You’re the little dimwit shutterbug retard…

…always with the shitty old movie camera.


Judge Palmer’s your old man?

He thinks he runs this town, don’t he?

Your dad’s a piece of shit.

Wait, wait, no, no.

You know what? I told you to take it easy.

Come on, motherfucker!

Who’s on probation? Who’s on parole?

You guys have a low opinion of Judge Palmer?

When your field officer’s filling out his incident report, I’m gonna be very helpful.

So let me guess.

Who’s got the felony DWI?

Oh, you flinched.

Possession of a controlled substance? Domestic violence? That’s you.

You all right, honey?

What other myriad of misdemeanors is gonna come to light while you’re in the slammer?

Failure to appear? Bench warrants? Come on.

And because I’m the only one that isn’t driving with a suspended license…

…I’ll be driving your gals home, so who lives closer? Uh…

Bad skin muffin-top or Red Bull semen breath?



Throw that punch. You like County food?



Maybe just my closed fist, counselor, in my own personal space.

And maybe I was gonna ask you to blow on my dice.

That’s a metaphor. I heard it. It’s good. You’re funny.

Let’s get the hell out of here.

Get some counseling.





Come here.



Uh, why don’t you read my beads?

Maybe I’ll buy you a drink.

Punctuality issues, equal confidence in bloom…

…strong teeth, incestry gene pool…

…and I’m guessing the wetter you get, the better you look. You’ll go far.

What are you having?


BILLY: Last call, boys.


Oh, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa.

You’re done.



GLEN: Are you watching for me? HANK: What do you think?

I’m your eyes. GLEN: All right.

Straight. DALE: You smell like her. She smells nice.

What is that?

GLEN: It’s Play-Doh. Are you paying attention?

HANK: Straighten it out. Back, back, back.

Easy. Nice, nice. Stop!


You did that on purpose.

No, I don’t… GLEN: You did it on purpose.

You bang it out yourself. Dale, let’s go.

Let’s go.



What the hell did he hit?

I was thinking a six-pack.

JOSEPH: Goddamn it!

Which one of you peckerwoods banged up my car?

Answer me. Who did this? HANK: Who do you think?


Who drove last?

We saw you leave for the grocery store.


Glen? Where are your boys?

Oh. Dad, they wouldn’t drive your car.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. No. Don’t let him pretend this is complicated.

There’s no reasonable doubt here. He’s human.

His wife died, he fell off the wagon, banged up the Caddy.

Deal. Shit happens.

Like your marriage.

What do you know? JOSEPH: I know a lot.

You don’t know a thing… JOSEPH: I know a lot.

She was my wife long before she was your mother.

We kept no secrets.

You tell your brothers you’re getting a divorce? Tell them!


…played Hide the Pickle with someone else.


I won’t be back.


Happy trails!

I’ll never fucking come back here again.



WOMAN: Attention, passengers.

We request at this time that you turn off all electronic devices.





HANK: Make it quick.

GLEN [OVER PHONE]: Don’t get on the plane. I need you back. Dad’s…

I don’t care. You’re on your own.

Stop talking and listen!

I gotta turn off the phone.

Just shut up for a second!

Shut your mouth and listen for once in your entire life!

What is it, Glen?


Sheriff White called Dad down to the police station.

They’re asking questions about the car. They think that he…

I don’t wanna hear it. Unless he killed somebody, you’re on your own.

They found a body, Hank.

JOSEPH: “You mean, judge, I can milk her, kill her, cook her…

…eat her, even, but that’s illegal?”


JOSEPH: True story. Ha-ha-ha.

HANSON: Mr. Palmer… WHITE: Judge Palmer, Deputy Hanson.

Sir, did anybody other than you have access to your vehicle?

No, sir.

You gotta be shitting me.

Is this an interview?

We’ve got a witness that puts his car on Route 30…

…heading towards Shelby Road at the approximate time of the accident.

Oh, boy. But that’s not enough to put his car at the scene.

Any strip-mall lawyer’s gonna chew that up and spit it out. Stolen vehicle.

You need him behind the wheel.

Hank, let’s go, pal.

Go where? Whoa, Both-Ways Bobby, graduation night.

The quarry, your Ranchero. I remember everything.

You and Kevin Thompson in the backseat naked, huffing whippets.

Shall I continue? I can elaborate.

It’s just a rumor.

HANK: Where were we?

He’s been on the bench too long. He forgets:

“if you don’t talk, you walk.”

We don’t hide behind the law here. There’s damage to my car.

I went to the convenience store last night, all right?

Every word limits his options. Keep going.

Imagine a faraway place, Hank…

…where people value your opinion. Now go there.

What about booze?

Eighty percent of hit-and-runs involve liquor.

His wife just died. Why wouldn’t he take a swig?

But you need an admission from him.

Better yet, a voluntary urine sample. There you go.

Fill her up.

A bladder full of courtesy coffee…

…and a “since you’re in the john anyway” sort of thing?

Might catch him off guard.

We can get everything we need from a hair sample.

Sure can. Nice work, sheriff.

You should be proud of yourself. Be halfway to manslaughter by lunch.

HANSON: Judge Palmer, we’re gonna need to impound your vehicle.

HANK: Tell me what happened. JOSEPH: I don’t remember.

Because you were drunk?

No, because I can’t remember.

Don’t you think I wanna remember?

For all I know, I never hit anything or anybody!

So I was in the liquor cabinet.

What kind of recovering alcoholic keeps a stocked liquor cabinet?

No, “recovered.” It’s a reminder that I’m stronger. It holds no power over me.

Right now that cop Hanson’s on his way to the mini-mart…


…to ask some scared-shitless high-school clerk with half a joint in his front pocket…

…if you had the odor of alcohol on your breath.

Did you?


Bloodshot eyes?


Slurred speech?



They shouldn’t drive together.

I’m on your side, judge.

And if this goes south, and it might…

…you need to say with a straight face that you haven’t had a drink in 28 years.

What’s done is done. If you hit somebody, they swerved in front of you.

I strongly suggest you dry out and practice that narrative.

Narrate this.

HANK: We’re gonna have to file another continuance. What else can I do?

Trust me, I’m gonna be back fast as I can. It’s a personal matter.

Yeah, I’d love to walk out on it, but I can’t.


Karen, hold on.

Why the hell are you calling me, Lisa?


Hi, honey. What are you doing with Mommy’s phone?

No, no, don’t worry about it. What’s up?

I miss you too. Baby, I’ll see you soon.

Either I’ll come home, or maybe you’ll come here.

Look, we’ll figure it out, don’t worry. I promise.

I’ll take you shopping. You wanna go shopping?

Want a cell phone? All your own? I’ll get you a…

Daddy has to work.

Yeah. WHITE: Hank…

…Forensics found traces of blood on your dad’s car.

So? WHITE: Deep in the grill.


It matches the victim.

I’m sorry.

It’s murder two.


So are you a clairvoyant?

That’s not the whole of it.

Or is he out of his mind?

That’s a rookie move. Careful.

Victim is Mark Blackwell.

Pretty amazing coincidence, don’t you think? Blackwell?


You killed him.

GLEN: Oh, shit, that’s Mrs. Blackwell.

You killed my son!

GLEN: All right, go straight to the car. Straight in. There you go.

When my lawyers are done with you, I’ll be living in your house!

Sorry for your loss, ma’am. MRS. BLACKWELL: Sorry?

GLEN: Let’s go, let’s go!

You will be!

GLEN: Hank, come on!

And you can shove all that “ma’am” shit.


I recognize you. You’re no altar boy. Mm-mm. MAN: Mom.

Mom, come on.

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.


Why were those people so mad?

She spit on the window.

Dad’s a judge, you know? Sometimes he has to make difficult decisions.

There was a girl.

DALE: What was her name?

Hope Stevens.

There was a guy, Mark Blackwell. He was a senior, like Glen.

Hope was his girlfriend, just turned 16.

He took a .38 to her house, shot the place up.

Can we talk about something else?

I don’t get it. Why…?

He shot out her bedroom windows.

Angry over whatever kids get angry about when they’ve been dating for six months.

Now, you listen to me. He stood in court and wept like a lost child.

Said he was drunk, would never do it again.

If he’d meant to hurt her, he would have.

I believed him!

I believed him. I believed him.

I gave him the minimum, 30 days.

I remember the morning he got out.

Glen and I were in the backyard, tinkering with his, heh, heh, breaking ball.

Pitching scouts had started to come to his games, from Cincinnati, Saint Louis.

But, uh…

God help us. While we did that…

HANK: Blackwell…

…drug her down to a spill pond.

GLEN: It was about 50 yards behind her house.

He hauled her into two feet of water and kneeled on her chest until he drowned her.

Dad gave him 20 years.

He got out in April.

Stop the car.

Dad, come on.

Shit-for-brains, am I speaking Korean? Stop the goddamn car.

I need my walk.

Leaving the scene, blood evidence, motive.

Your biggest mistake, and you just happen to run him over?

I could convict you over coffee.

But no, no, routines are important. Close the door. Go.

If the blood matches, and I have no reason to doubt it does…

…then I must have clipped him.

I don’t remember any of that.

The “I don’t remember” defense doesn’t fly with a corpse.

We need to establish a firm defense.

We gotta make it all go away at the preliminary hearing.

We never go to trial.

There’s no “we” here, Henry. This was an accident, period.

Any decent lawyer can argue this easily.

And by “decent,” I mean honest. Someone from here.

Someone with integrity that an Indiana judge will respect.

I retained one of that breed this morning. All right?

I wish I liked you more.

GLEN: Oh, boy.

He didn’t mean that.

He didn’t mean that.

I wish he died instead of Mom.

Cut it out!

Cut it out!

Eyes forward, you coward.

GLEN: That’s awful!

He says, “Jump,” you say, “How high?”

Hank, you shoot your mouth off too much!

Where is he going?

HANK: Driving Miss Daisy. What a fucking coward you are.

Maybe we should follow Dad.

Should I?

Oh, God. Where were you two when they were distributing testicles?

Fuck it, I’m out. GLEN: Good. Good!

HANK: Hey, judge, where you going?

Indiana State Penitentiary is this way.

Kiss my ass.

What line were we in when they were distributing testicles?


You know I have to go, right?


[MOUTHS] I love you.

You’re here to listen, not talk, okay?

You know, the great thing about authentic mercury glass is the double-wall.

See that in there? And right on the bottom:

“New England Glass company.” What a great find.

Uh, wow.

Guys, you wanna head upstairs to my office?

Judge Warren caught it. You know him, sir?

JOSEPH: Yes, I do.

He’s tough, he’s fair…

…and full of himself.

They assigned a special prosecutor, Dwight Dickham?

Out of Gary? I wonder why so far.

The preliminary hearing is set for next Friday.

WOW. Uh…

We’re in a bit of a pickle. JOSEPH: It’s pretty straightforward, C.P.

It was dark…

Hold up. Uh…

What would you say your strong suit is, old furniture or law? Quick.

C.P.: Uh, law. Law.

Law school?


Yes, you’re familiar with the concept or you attended one?

Oh. Ha, ha.

You can’t practice law without going to law school. Yeah, Valpo.

Valpo? Valparaiso? It’s, uh… Ugh, Mom.

I told her not to cover the Valparaiso.

Come on. I hate when she stacks books here. Um…

It’s, uh, here in Indiana. Did you go out of state?


Wow. That’s a dandy of a school.

Ever defended in a jury trial?

C.P.: Yes, I have.


Assault. HANK: Degree?

Third. HANK: Verdict?

It was a guilty verdict.

Coach Blakely broke a clipboard over his quarterback’s head…

…during halftime at the homecoming game.

Now, in his defense…

Now he gets one.

John Jr. had his helmet on.

He just keeps selling, doesn’t he?

Sit down.

C.P.: Uh, just so you know…

…summers I interned at the public defender’s office in Evansville.

I also clerked two years for Justice Roberts on the Indiana Supreme Court.

Which was a pretty cool experience.

The word “wow,” it’s not your friend in court.

Thank you. Duly noted.

This is your guy? If he drops the ball, you’re facing a murder trial. Just so you know.

I’m gonna get a coffee.

Wow. This is a lawsuit right here. Don’t get sued before you lose your next case.

Don’t mind him.

You’re my guy.

Your Honor, I’m gonna fight like a badger for you.

You can count on that.



C.P.: Morning.

All rise.

Court is in session.

The Honorable Judge Sanford Warren presiding.

Be seated.

I understand there’s a motion you’d like to be heard on.

Your Honor, the deadline for filing a change of venue motion…

…has already come and gone.

So unless there’s been a change in circumstance that warrants…

…filing the motion out of time…

Say, if the county up and moved overnight.

Barring that…

…this trial happens right here in Carlinville.

WARREN: This is a preliminary hearing, not a trial.

What’s the story, Mr. Dickham? Filing for a change of venue?

Out of curiosity, Your Honor, if I were to ask for a change of venue, you’d say what?

WARREN: You missed the deadline, but I’ll consider it.

And then?

Deny it. You missed your deadline.

No motion, Your Honor.

WARREN: We’re here to establish whether there’s probable cause…

…to bind this over for trial.

I wanna hold the presentation of evidence until I’ve taken testimony…

…after which I’ll hear arguments.

Without further delay, let’s get started, gentlemen.

C.P.: Sheriff, after you arrived, what happened?

When I approached the victim, he was unresponsive.

And at that time, did you offer any assistance?

He was dead, son.

C.P.: So no?

WHITE: That’s a no. C.P.: Great.

DWIGHT: And exactly what did Mr. Palmer tell you?

Mr. Palmer stated he drove his vehicle…

His 1971 Cadillac DeVille?

Correct…. the night of the accident.


[WHISPERING] We can get this dismissed. It was an accident.

DWIGHT: And did you see…? WARREN: Excuse me.

Excuse me.


Sir, are you co-counsel?

He is not. C.P.: No.

Sit and zip it.

DWIGHT: Sir, did you form an opinion as to the cause of death?

Massive internal damage.

Injuries consistent with being struck by a car.

Thank you, Dr. Putney. No further questions, Your Honor.

Cross-examination, Mr. Kennedy?

Uh, no further que… No, no questions, Your Honor.

DWIGHT: So you were working that night at the mini-mart…

…and you saw Judge Palmer and Mr. Blackwell.

They was both over by the cooler.

Did you see them make eye contact?

Yeah. I saw Mr. Blackwell and Judge Palmer make eye contact.

DWIGHT: And then what did Judge Palmer do?

CLERK: Dropped his eggs.


That’s it. Out. Bailiff, get rid of him.

You read that.

Not my first time.

DWIGHT: So after that, did they go out together?

Did you see him follow him?

GUS: All rise.

Court is in session.

The Honorable Judge Sanford Warren presiding.


WARREN: Be seated.

Based on the testimony of the witnesses…

…and the evidence presented by Mr. Dickham…

…the court finds probable cause to hold this over for trial.

Jury selection will begin one week from today.

See you folks in court.

“Agreement from the Gipper’s coach.”

Excuse me?

“Agreement from the Gipper’s coach,” 10 letters.

“Aye of Knute.”

Knute Rockne, the great Notre Dame coach from South Bend, Indiana.

He knows the answer, yet he asks.

Come in. Sit down.

Let’s hold some court. Yeah.

Sit down.

Now, peacefully, easily…



Why do you think Dickham missed the filing deadline…

…for a change of venue?

Oh, he didn’t miss the deadline. It’s a small town.

For every two people who stand in front of you, one wins, one loses.

One loves you, one hates you.

Yes, yes, yes.

Pretty obvious that Dickham had no intention of filing. He wants the trial here.

C.P. stepped down this morning.


Said he’d assist a more seasoned attorney.

Couldn’t live with himself if his lack of experience cost the case. So…

Confidentially, what were you doing on Shelby Road?

There’s no route from the mini-mart home where that makes sense.

Wait, wait, wait.

Are you asking if you can represent me?



I remember being there at the mini-mart. I needed eggs.

The road home was washed out, where it dips near the old mill.

I turned around, stopped at the light on State.

Then, uh…

…I’m missing time, so…


Can I borrow your pen?


To answer your question, no, I’m not asking if I can represent you.

It doesn’t work that way.

You can’t afford me, so I’d have to do it for free.

Fortunately, I’m a bit light on my pro bono quota this year.

So this is my standard services contract.

Check, sign and date.

Offer expires end of business day.

I’ll give it a think.

HANK: The artiste at work.

DALE: Hey, Hank. I’m splicing film.

I see.

DALE: You can help if you want. HANK: No, just watching. Know what’s funny?

When you said that the old man was playing chess every Wednesday with…

…who was it?

With Doc Morris. Mm-hm.

Yeah. Because he doesn’t play chess.

In fact, the only thing he detests more than board games is doctors.

He does so play chess.

I’ll show you. I have it…

It’s not really ready yet, but…

That’s a grackle. They’re a real nuisance.

And there’s the lake.

Here’s the porch.

See? He’s playing chess.


That’s a nice frame.


What else you got?

Well, if you wait, you’ll see I got a whole family of muskrats crossing the lake.


HANK: Body recovered there.

Figure impact right here.


HANK: Police report has him on a bike.


I don’t see any skid marks.

HANK: Okay. Hey, here it is. Lawyer to client:

Did you recognize Blackwell?

I don’t remember. I can’t have.

No, no.

“Can’t have.” Stick with that.

We know you didn’t intentionally hit him, but that’s the way they’ll spin it.

A few shots of Jack mixed with just the right amount of ax to grind…

That’s what I thought.

But you haven’t been drinking, have you?


You sick, Pop?

You might say I’m sick, yes.


Cancer. In my plumbing.


Few more chemo sessions, it’ll be in…

In, uh, remission.

Nothing I can’t handle.

Nobody knows.

Your mother knew, that’s all.

They need intent for murder. That’s our case.

We roll out a diminished-ability defense due to chemo.

If we gain the jury’s sympathy, they’ll never convict you.

Wait. Hold on.

Native son, public servant for over 40 years…

No, no. No, back up. Back up!

Look what that does to all the cases I’ve heard for the last year.

You’ve had this a year?

Everybody I sentenced will challenge the ruling.

Who gives a shit? You’ll die in prison.

I’d rather die in prison than be remembered like that.

Oh, boy.

An incompetent old man on the stand. No.

Pfft. Oh, I’m not letting you anywhere near the stand.

Listen to me. Ulysses S. Grant held this country together.

Now, what’s he remembered for? Being a drunk.

Ronald Reagan oversaw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War.

But any discussion of his legacy ends with jelly beans, naps and Alzheimer’s.

Reagan? Wow.


With all due…

I’m gonna say this as professionally and gently as I possibly can.

You’re a civil servant in a corn-belt, Bible-banging backwater.

Nobody, nobody, gives a rat’s ass about your legacy.

But I do, you see. I do.

I sat on the bench in that courtroom for 42 years.

People in this community trust me.

They trust the law.

Now, this…

This accident is a legal iron ball, Henry.

You can’t screw it up.

So don’t.


And only guilty people refuse to take the stand. Got me?

You tie my shoelaces together. I can’t help you if you won’t let me do my job.

JOSEPH: Unlock the car. Come on. I wanna go home.

HANK: Goddamn it.





No! Unh.

Fuck me.


I only own the one black dress.

Hank, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. This is my daughter, Carla.

Well, light a match and hold my hair back. This is your Hank?

Girl, just try not to embarrass me, okay?

You’ve… You two met?


Yeah. At the bar.



Girl, what is up with you? Turn around.



HANK: What?

I see that T-shirt survived.

The night Hank vanished from Carlinville.

Since when have you had a daughter?

CARLA: February 1990.

She’s home for summer break.

HANK: Hmm.

Uh, were you married?


No, I am the unplanned but happy result…

…of a Wabash River float trip.

Yeah. Kool-Aid and Everclear.

And now Carla goes to Georgetown.

D.C.? Georgetown?


You ever in Washington, Mr. Palmer?

Never. What are you studying?





Always on grass.

Never on pavement. Won’t splash your shoes that way.

I don’t know what my problem is.

You’re invested in your client. You feel the life in your hands.

Both pass. Trust me.

I hope not.

So you’re telling me that you’re not even a little bit swayed by the fact…

…that you’re familiar with the defendant and his stature in the community?

Now, what exactly is our target juror?

Intelligent people who will listen to instructions and follow the evidence.

Crackpots. Those I can persuade to swallow their own tongues.

Anyone who’s seen a Sasquatch.

Moon-landing deniers. Those are our people.

Mr. Palmer.

Subtlety, Henry. A velvet touch.

HANK: Bumper stickers? Anybody got one on their car, truck, RV?

Show of hands.

And what do they read? Exact words, please.

It just spells out “tolerance” with religious symbols.

“Willie Nelson for President.”

Really? Does he seem a likely candidate?

They never got him on a felony.

“Certified Breast Inspector. Have Them Out.”

“Gun Control Means Using Both Hands.”

“Honor Roll Student on Board.”


“Wife and Dog Missing, Reward for Dog.”


HANK: Thank you. LAUREN: Thank you.


HANK: I missed you, baby. It’s gonna be such a fun weekend.

Unless I drop you down the escalator!


Lauren, uh…

…I feel like I should prep you before you meet Grandpa Palmer.

He is nothing like Grandpa Schneider.

Grandpa Schneider is kind of, you know, nice and affable.

He’d take you for ice cream, maybe read to you.

Grandpa Palmer doesn’t wanna do any of that.

If you ask him to read, he might throw the book at you.

Anyway, don’t worry about it. I mean, he’s not evil.

He’s just a dirty old mummy, and he can’t hurt you, because you’re special.

Oh, my God, there he is. Look.

He’s usually wrapped in gauze, and oozing and shuffling.

He must have come outside to feed.

Who are you?

Lauren. JOSEPH: Lauren.

You know who I am?

LAUREN: Grandpa. JOSEPH: Yeah.

You’re my granddaughter?

Let’s… Come on with me.


Glad to be here?


It’s been a long time. I waited a long time for this.

You’re my little sweetheart. I’ll show you the house. Come on.


You’re the first granddaughter I ever had.

In fact, you’re the first girl in this family in a long time.

LAUREN: I think Grandpa’s sweet.

HANK: Yeah, he isn’t. But I’m glad you see it that way.

Okay, all right.

That’s super comfy. There you go. You want a second pillow?


Good. Now put your head down.

There you go.


HANK: And now… Oops.

Oh, maybe I’m gonna strangle her.


HANK: You good? Okay.

There’s ghosts here. I’m gonna leave you alone now.

Whose room is this?

It was your uncle Glen’s.

Why are there so many trophies?

He was a really good baseball player.

Really good.

LAUREN: Did he play on TV?

He probably would have been on a big team…

…but when Glen and I were in high school, we got in a really bad car accident.

Then his hand got messed up.

Oh, I’m sorry.

Why didn’t he take his trophies to his own house?

They were more important to his father.

Kind of a touchy subject. Go to sleep.

Night, baby.

Night, Dad.

HANK: Okay, let’s rehearse.

Mr. Palmer, Mark Blackwell appeared in your court prior to killing Miss Stevens, correct?


Well, a lot of people appeared in my court, but…

But you’d agree there were special circumstances surrounding this case.

Most people think that their cases are pretty special.

There’s no snacks on the witness stand.


Give it back.

No. No distractions.

I don’t need preparing.

You’ve never sat on a witness stand.

You’ve never been in that seat.


Dickham doesn’t have intent, Henry. And he never will.

Dickham is a snake charmer.

He’ll play his tune, get the jury swinging to his version of that night.

Then you can say goodbye to your dreams of flags flying at half-mast when you’re dead.

It’s “half-staff.” No one says “half-mast” anymore.

Yeah? Let’s remain unprepared. Fuck it.

All right.

No need to be so morose…



Can you hear me? Well, my head’s in the oven.

I was just thinking it was either that or maybe I shower up and come meet you.

God. Okay. There?

All right.

HANK: Oh, my God. It looks taller than it used to.

Did they raise it?

Ha, ha.

Come on, big city, show me what you got.

Oh, Jesus.

All right.

All right, I’m just gonna stretch out for a sec.

Unh. Come on, give me a boost.




God, too easy.


We’re in.

[OVER SPEAKERS] Every night that goes between

SAM: So it’s midnight.

I’m on the Dayton blacktop, hauling ass home.

Seventy-six Chevette, fake wood paneling.

No. Dad’s Maverick.


I know, right?

What were you thinking?

Corner of my eye, I spot something.

Biggest buck you have ever seen.

Twelve, 14 points…

…200 pounds, give or take, charging the road, straight for me.

We skid, one hand on the wheel, one hand on Carla.

This deer jumps…

…flies over the hood.

Its back hoof taps the glass.

And one mile per hour faster…

…he’s coming through the windshield…

…killing me for sure, maybe both of us.

I make a decision right then and there.

Whatever had or hadn’t happened in the past…

…I was gonna be the hero of my own story.

Sound corny?

Sounds epic.

I had 4 grand to my name.

I borrowed another 12 from Grandpa, took that 16 grand.

I made Dan an offer for the diner that he couldn’t refuse.

This place was on its last legs…

This is your place.

Yes, this is my place.

What did I bust into it for?

For my amusement.

Worth the broken window.


Bought the tavern three years later.

I got money. A lot of money. I got money like the Colonel’s got chicken.

HANK: You’re an entrepreneurial spirit.


Okay, I’m impressed.

We’ve known each other since the third grade.

You didn’t already know enough to be impressed?

I always liked you, just…

You are a dick.

This is different. This is about accomplishment.

Though the love has always been

So I search to find an answer there

So I can truly win

SAM: There you are.

All right, babe.

HANK: Except it was second grade.


It’s second grade.

In Ms. Jenkins’ class, on the kickball field in the south corner…

…is where I tried to kiss you and you fish-hooked me.

Tasted like cinnamon.

Pop. One of those.

You just broke off to reminisce?

Just a sidebar.


Come on.

So I try to say goodbye, my friend

SAM: What’s wrong?

You know I’m leaving when the trial’s over. Are you sure we should do this?

Am I sure?

He’s sure. I’m wondering if you’re sure.



Why did we come here?

I love seeing you here…

…but I’m not naive, Hank. I know you.

What do you think you know?


That I’m a decent guy? That I’m loyal?

That I’m a phenomenal lawyer, that I got a work ethic that’ll rival the Amish?

What do you know?

Say it. I’m used to being held under scrutiny.

Here’s what I know:

I am never leaving Carlinville. I love it here.

And you’re just a boy from Indiana…

…who’s gonna do whatever he has to do to pretend that’s not true.

Lock the door behind you.

I’m gonna go play with myself. I’ll be thinking of you.

[WHISPERING] And I made out with your daughter.

Ugh. Fuck.

HANK: Judge says he’s missing time. Explain that to me.

MORRIS: It’s called “chemo brain.”

Along with the fatigue and the cracked skin…

…you can sometimes suffer from memory loss…

…confusion, dementia, delusions.

There’s a real possibility that he was mentally impaired when he hit Blackwell.

If you can corroborate that, I need it in my pocket.

I may need you to testify.

He’s getting chemotherapy in a fishing cabin.

I don’t think he wants anyone knowing.

And I’m his doctor. I’m bound by his wishes.

Bound by his wishes or his vanity?

When will he be done with the treatments?

That’s up to him.

On him?


…how would he know?

So, what exactly did he tell you?

Told me it’s under control. It’s in remission.

Give it up, you country quack. I’m not his son. I’m his fucking lawyer.

This isn’t an act. You aren’t a pleasant person.

Right now? I’m a summer breeze.

Once I subpoena you, get you on the stand…

…and extract the truth from your ass…

…then you’ll realize in that moment, correct, I’m not a pleasant person.

We caught it too late to cut it out.

To slap a bag on it.

If he’d had regular screenings…

But the judge wasn’t the type to invite a camera with any degree of regularity.

[IN DISTANT VOICE] Your mother insisted that he try.

I suspect he’s still doing it for her.

I’ve been treating him for a year.

His condition is advanced.

Stage 4.

The pain will increase. We’ll manage that with morphine.

JOSEPH: “Café du Monde.”


“The clouds…

…were ripped like the strip of fire above.”

What’s a hush puppy?

Good for you.





Get out of here.

Dad, give me your hand.

Get out.

Why are my shoes off?

You’re okay. Just stay. Stay right there.

Let go of my hand.

No, no, no.

Why don’t we just do this? Let’s go to the tub.


Okay? Careful where you’re stepping.



Oh, yeah.

Can you get your leg over?

There you go.

Oh, hoo, hoo, hoo.


HANK: Is that okay?

Okay, let’s go.


HANK: How’s that temperature? Is it okay?

Ooh, ooh. Too hot.

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Oh! Yeah.

Ooh. That’s a little colder.


Nice. It’s good.


What is it? LAUREN: Can I come in?

I’ll be out in a minute. Go eat. Finish your hush puppies.

LAUREN: I’m full.

In a minute, Lauren.

Come on. LAUREN: What are you doing?


[WHISPERING] What are we doing?

I don’t know. Fixing the sink. Heh, heh.

[IN NORMAL VOICE] We’re fixing the sink. It leaks.

LAUREN: Can I help?

She’ll slip. There’s too much water.

No, there’s water all over the floor.

All right, go do something. Grandpa and I will be down in a minute.

Ooh. LAUREN: Knock, knock.

Lauren… LAUREN: I wasn’t talking to you.

Who’s there?


Army who?

LAUREN: Are me and Grandpa still going for ice cream?

Okay, ha, ha.


Tell me about Lauren. Likes, dislikes?

What the future may hold for you?

Where you leaning? Teacher? Doctor?

Lawyer. Seems popular lately.

Racecar driver.

I just like to go really fast.

You’re thinking, aren’t you? Ha, ha.

I got a bad idea.

But it could be fun.

HANK: You’re looking at the road? LAUREN: Yeah.

HANK: Doing awesome. Check your mirrors.

You’re a natural, by the way.

I feel like I could just take my hands off the wheel and let you drive.

Ah! Don’t you do it when I do it.

Ha, ha.

HANK: All right?



And that’s how you keep abreast of what’s going on on the road.

When are you and Mommy getting a divorce?

What? Put your hands at 10 and 2.

Where did you hear that?

It’s pretty obvious.


Well, the way these things work…

…you know, it takes a long time.

It happens in stages, and, uh…

Your stuff is in boxes.

That’s a stage.

You’re not wearing your wedding rings.

And you’re probably gonna ask me who I wanna live with.

So, what stage are we in?

That one.

You know too much.

Mommy would be lonely.

Yeah, what about me?

So would I.

Daddies don’t get lonely.

They only marry younger mommies.

Well, we’ll figure it all out, baby.

It happened to Megan.

Then it happened to Katlin.

I just didn’t think it would happen to me.

Me neither.

You wanna turn left up here?

I’m just gonna let you drive home. You’re doing great.

You’re making the turn all by yourself. Good girl, good girl, good girl.


So when you see Mom, what are you supposed to say?

Best vacation ever.

Yeah, that’s pretty good. Just don’t oversell it. You know what I mean?

Hey. Thanks.

You gonna be all right?

You will be fine. You’re something else.

LAUREN: Hey, Daddy.

Best vacation ever.

It’s a coincidence.

That’s what that was.

June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January…

June, July, August, September, October, November… The fuck?

HANK: Here we go.



DWIGHT: Sir, I appreciate the primer in DNA evidence analysis.

But bottom-line this for us: What do all these numbers and percentages mean…

…when determining if it’s Mark Blackwell’s blood on the car?

It’s the victim’s blood on the car. HANK: Didn’t take a swing at Mr. Blackwell?

No, sir.

Use profanity, rant, rave, flip him off…

…display any sign of hostility?

No. None of that.

HANK: Dr. Brannamon, you found something else in his system at the time of death?

Yes, we did. Mark Blackwell had oxycodone-paracetamol in his blood. Percocet.

And your lab registered his blood alcohol level…

…at .23?


In that condition, could he have been riding in a straight line?

If he could ride a bike at all, it would have been swerving.

DWIGHT: Mrs. Blackwell, after all those years and all that heartbreak…

…how did you feel when he was released?

I finally had my Mark back.

I’d waited so long for him to come home.

DWIGHT: No mother should have to bury her child. Thank you, ma’am.

How often did you visit Mark in prison?

Uh, I don’t remember. Too many times.

Perhaps the visitation records will refresh your memory. How many times?


Pardon me?


Oh. So not “too many times.” Two times in 20 years. Twice.

One for each hand.

HANSON: It’s a 20-degree bend at best.

DWIGHT: So, Deputy Hanson, looking at this road, there is no indication…

…that Judge Palmer tried to slow his vehicle.


As a matter of fact, there are no brake marks at all, are there?

No, sir.

DWIGHT: No further questions, Your Honor.

Mr. Palmer.

Deputy Hanson, you were previously an officer in Detroit.

Objection. The deputy’s credentials are not in question.

I was gonna say “Welcome to Carlinville.”



HANK: As stated by Mr. Dickham, these photos were taken the morning of the incident.

Uh, what is that? Can you help me?

Right there.

HANSON: Not really, no.

Does that help?

Road kill. Raccoon, maybe.

Is there an offer of proof here?

What’s your point, Mr. Palmer?

That there is a snapping turtle.



And Detroit can be forgiven…

…for not knowing what running over a snapping turtle is like.

Nobody hits one if they see it and can possibly avoid it.

You hit a rabbit, possum, skunk, your car goes “boop, boop.”

But nailing a big snapper is similar to smacking into a cinderblock.

Car goes, “Kablam! Kaboom!”

Mr. Palmer, where exactly are you going with this?

HANK: Well, Your Honor…

…the prosecution maintains that a lack of brake marks…

…is evidence that Mr. Blackwell was deliberately struck.

That it’s not reasonable to assume Judge Palmer could have hit something substantial…

…in the dark, raining…

…not realized it was a person that was hit, just kept going.

That’s been firmly established. Are we within a mile of a question here?

Question is, deputy:

Any brake marks in front of that turtle?

Yes, no?

No, there are not.

Thank you. That’s all I have.

JOSEPH: You rearrange everything!

All right, Mary. Wait, what, what, what?

What? Goddamn!

Don’t be a you-know-what, Mary! Don’t be a you-know-what.



My memory plays tricks on me. It plays tricks on me.

You left too soon, Mary. You left too soon.

Hey. Hey-

I think I heard you having a bad dream.

God, what happened to your hands?

Here. This’ll make your skin soft.



Hey, hey. Who’s the best lawyer you’ve ever seen? Come on.

Mine’s Robert Graham. I worked for him.

He just doesn’t lose.


Now you.


Mr. Shaw.

My first job after law school. A drifter killed a farmer, violated his wife.

Five Points Road with a corn knife.

Vile human being. Vile.

Court assigned Mr. Shaw the case.

So we took dinner to the jail because every night Mr. Shaw sat with him.

Prepared him, defended him.

No tricks.

He won?

JOSEPH: Tchh-tchh.

Electrocuted. Heh.

He was dead, but Mr. Shaw had to live here.


He was threatened, spit on.

People wouldn’t sit near him in church.

He could have refused the case easily, but he believed in the law.

I can’t say, uh, “best.”

But Henry Shaw?


Most decent man I ever met.

Ever. Ever.



Decent man.

Great man. Heh.

Henry Shaw.


HANK: Hank Palmer.

WHITE [OVER PHONE]: Hank? Sheriff White.

Wondering if you can come by the station. There’s something you should see.

HANK: We’ve already seen the security footage from the accident night.

The judge leaves the store, his car goes one way, Blackwell the other.




Four minutes 45.

He didn’t get to the mill.

And? Point being?

In his statement, Judge Palmer said he reached the road near the mill…

…it was washed out, and he turned around.

He’s lying. It takes nine minutes to get to the mill and back.

Your dad did it in five.

He didn’t turn around because it was washed out.

He turned around to follow Blackwell.

He’s lived here his whole life. Think he can’t gauge when the road will flood?

HANSON: That’s not the point.

Sheriff, may we use your office?


Well, you know how to clear a room.

Ten years.

insufficient evidence.

Offer expires when you leave.

You want me to fly you?

Glad to see you’re on your game.

I like you too, but I’m so bored.

I have intent now.


I’ll paint your father as a holier-than-thou prick determined to see justice served.

My father is a holier-than-thou prick…

…determined to see justice served, so it’s gonna be a light day.

That’s funny.

I guess I can’t fault you for not remembering me.

I was just second chair for the prosecution.

You defended that Milwaukee beer baron’s kid who went slumming in Gary.

Forty million in the bank, one dead prostitute?

By God, you’re good. Best verdict money can buy.

Everybody wants Atticus Finch till there’s a dead hooker in a hot tub.

There’s your bumper sticker.

So, in a nutshell, you’re following me down here to settle a score?

Heh. Good Lord, no.

I followed you down here because I knew if I didn’t…

…it was likely somebody was gonna get away with murder.

My father’s a lot of unpleasant things. A murderer is not one.

But he is a liar. We’ve established that.

A liar who thinks he can operate under the color of the law, just like his son.

You’re a shined-up wooden nickel, Mr. Palmer.

A bully with a big bag of tricks.

But unlike you, I have one simple belief:

that the law is the only thing capable of making people equal.

You may think Mark Blackwell was white trash, and he may very well have been…

…but in the eyes of the state, his life matters.

I’m gonna impale your client on a first-degree murder charge.

And you get a front-row seat.


JOE: Why are we even down here?

Like, it is never a tornado. This is stupid.

Be happy your grandpa has a basement.

Oh, boy.

DALE: Don’t worry, everyone. I got it.



Hey, turn that on, Uncle Dale.

ERIC: Yeah, why don’t you show us what you’ve been working on?

Come on. Let’s go.


Charles Francis Jenkins first invented the projector…

…on June 6th, 1894, in Wayne County, Indiana.

GLEN: Dale, can you show the movie that you made? Thank you.

Here we go. AMY: All right. Whoo!



Good going, Dale.

Wow, looks like Christmas. AMY: Oh, nice.

Oh, family Christmas. Look at you guys in your p.j.’s.


That’s us.

That’s our family. GLEN: Yeah, it is.


JOE: Oh, Grandma. DALE: There’s me.

AMY: It’s sweet. GLEN: It is.

JOE: Dad, you were cute once.


DALE: There’s Hank and Dad. AMY: Uh-oh. Ha-ha-ha.

JOE: Judge, you had hair? Oh, look at you.


AMY: There you are. GLEN: Watch and learn, boys.

Watch and learn. Ha-ha-ha.

Look at that. Oh, look at that.

Jesus! AMY: Wow. Look at that arm.

JOE: What an arm. GLEN: Ha-ha-ha!


GLEN: Ha-ha-ha. AMY: Victory.

DALE: That was the best day. GLEN: You betcha.

AMY: Ha, ha. Proud mama. JOE: Yeah, Dad.

Holy shit. ERIC [WHISPERING]: Shut up, Joe.

Turn it off.

GLEN: All right, speed it up, man.

DALE: I can’t. JOSEPH: Next, Dale.

DALE: It’s film. I can’t… JOSEPH: Next. Next.

GLEN: Crank the thing with your hand if you have to. Let’s go.

AMY: Give him a chance.

Turn it off!

Okay, all right! JOSEPH: Enough!

We’re gonna fix it. We’re gonna fix it. It’s okay.

Not in this house.

Dad! Shit!

DALE: Oh, no.

That’s it. I am so sick of you.

I’m tired of the way you decide how the world is gonna run.

You’re gonna parcel out who gets to say and do what and when you say it?

I decide in this house. You go decide in your house.

HANK: No, I can’t!

I’m stuck in purgatory with a client who’s doing…

…everything in his power to be found guilty.

You didn’t make it anywhere near the mill, did you?

You hung me out to fucking dry with Dwight Dickham because you held out on me!

I told you everything! HANK: Wrong!

You told me everything you decided I could know!

You guys, come on!

Get out of my way!

Easy, Dad!

Fuck it!

Dad, where are you going?

All right! Dad, you can’t go out there!

JOE: Grandpa, where you going? What are you doing?

Get your gimp hand off me!

Goddamn it, Hank! JOE: Where is he going?


Why’d you pull me out of Boy Scouts?

As punishment for blowing up the McGraws’ mailbox with M-80s.

I was 13. That, you remember.

Oh. Old enough to know better.

You didn’t come to my high-school graduation or college.

Oh. Boo-fucking-hoo. Why? JOSEPH: Why?

Jail time, truancy. I wasn’t gonna reward anything. None of your shit.

I graduated from law school, for chrissake.

As opposed to what, dropping out? Ooh.

Fuck you!

Let me tell you something, okay? Here.

I put a roof over your head, money in your pocket…

…clothes on your back, food in your mouth!

Who paid for that college education I never showed up to kiss your ass over?

Your mother? She was a housewife.

Why couldn’t you swallow your pride and come home to her?

You tell me why!

You’d invite people at the end of parole back to court.

You’d recognize those who did their time, turned their lives around…

…made something of themselves.

Everyone in court would applaud. You’d make sure they did.

Tell them how proud you were. Proud of fucking strangers.

Is that all you wanted, Henry? A kind word and “attaboy”?

Then to use your words, you should have come the fuck home!

We all waited.


But you never came.

Okay? And I was the one she blamed because you wouldn’t come home. Me.

Now, was I tough on you? Yes.

How’d you turn out, Henry? Waiting tables? A bum?

You put me in juvenile detention.

You sent me to fucking Vanderburgh!

No, you put yourself there. Yes. HANK: Did I?

The prosecutor recommended community service.

No. It wouldn’t have helped you.

I didn’t need help. I needed you!

You were high. You rolled a car with your brother in it.

He had a Major League career ahead of him…

…and he runs a tire shop.


You crippled him, you stole his future, and you call me an asshole?

I was just 17. That’s what happened. JOSEPH: Oh.

“I was 13. I was 17.”

You were headed down the wrong path. I did what I thought was right.

You know, I didn’t just graduate from law school.

I graduated first in my class. I was first in my class.

I did really well, Dad.

You’re welcome.


[WHISPERING] Tear this house down.

I could tear this fucking house down.


How about that storm, huh?


I’m glad you and Mom became friends, and… Why?

Why, Sam?



Who the fuck is Carla’s dad? Please.

Go to the courthouse.

Pull her birth certificate.

I did.

There’s no father’s name listed.

No, there is not.

Because Carla’s father was never gonna be her father.

Him knowing would just complicate things.

There was no Wabash River float trip. There was no Everclear and Kool-Aid.

It was just one of those lies we tell ourselves…

…in order to move on, and we did.

Great, I get to move on too.

What lies you gonna tell me?

That it was fine with me when you left to go to that goddamn concert…

…and you never called again.

That, um…

…I am entirely comfortable with Carla never knowing who her father is.

That you’re the only one who’s gonna get hurt when you run away again…

…like you always do.

Oh, I know that look.

You’re a bullshitter.

Well, yeah, it’s my bullshit. Kindly remove your shoes from it.

See you in 20 years.

Looking forward.

Finally opened her up, huh?


Evan Williams. She was 23 years old when I drove down to Bardstown…

…Kentucky, 1979, to buy her.

I almost cracked this baby open a thousand times.

Yeah, be glad you didn’t.


You gonna tell me I shouldn’t drink?

You’re a big boy.

Long as you’re ready for tomorrow.

Dickham’s gonna turn up the heat.

I’m ready.

I went and saw Mom today.



Where is she now?

Where…? Who?

Where’s Mary? Do you think there’s something else? After we die?

You asking me if I believe in God?

Do you?

I’m 72 with Stage 4 cancer. What choice do I have?

You know…

…I was gonna say that, uh…

I was gonna apologize for belittling your marriage.

It’s not easy to have a good marriage.

I don’t know what to do. What would you do?

Lisa and all.

I don’t know, Henry. I truly don’t.

You think you can make each other happy again?


Fill it up.

I have a little toast here.

To whatever, I don’t know. But let’s have a toast.

To good luck in court.

Good luck.

The judge’s Cadillac reappears in the frame five minutes after he left the lot.

Exact time, sheriff?

WHITE: Four minutes, 45 seconds.

Okay, again. When he leaves.

Oops. Uh…

Went too far.

There we go.

Judge Palmer?

GLEN: Dad.

Bailiff, you mind calling an ambulance?


Dad, talk to us.


Saint Thomas Moore. I don’t know which prayer card the judge would like.

Maybe Saint Joseph, the patron saint of fathers…

Okay, okay, Dale.

DALE:…and there’s a Saint Joseph…

Dial down the crazy.

Wanna go to the vending machine?




Get whatever you want.

You have a naked lady in here.

Yeah. It’s a fun wallet.

Film the vending machines, Dale.

Don’t look at me like that. Don’t do it.

Not now. Don’t look at me like that. Not now.

You don’t know what my life is like, okay? Mom is gone. All right?

And Dad is…

And then what are we gonna do about Dale? Huh? What, are you gonna help?

You? Really?

I haven’t been stuck here.


I understand why you’re going mental.

Hank, I’ve never asked for a goddamn thing in your life.

I’m fucking here.

He’s your father. You should be here.

Oh, my God, you’re nuts.

I never asked you for a goddamn thing.

Okay? I’m asking you now.

You cannot lose this case.

Dad cannot go to prison.

Don’t pat me. Don’t pat me. I’m the big brother here. You don’t pat me.

Dad wants to see you, Hank.

Not you, Glen.

Come here.

I killed the bastard.

You’re funny.


Don’t ever say that again, to anybody.

I know me. I ran that man down.

You’re speculating. I know you too.

You’re not capable of overriding a lifetime of ethical superiority.

I don’t have the energy to fight with you, Henry.

Then muster some.

Do you remember hitting him?

Just a matter of time.

Clock’s run out.

We’re out of fucking time. You’re not taking the stand.

Then I’ll fire you, and C.P. will do it.

You are the most brutally bullheaded client I’ve ever had.

This is easy. There’s no witness.

The prosecution can’t prove you hit him any more than you can.

I’ve sprayed reasonable doubt all over this case. Please, will you just…?

Let me do my job. Let me do the talking. Keep your mouth shut, you’ll win.

Yes. But I have to live here.



You’re impossible to defend.


What happened to Reagan?

You know, the jelly beans and your horseshit legacy?

Okay, so you’re gonna swear in, hand to God…

…and lie under oath that you remember hitting him?

I won’t confess to something I don’t remember doing, okay?

You promise? Thank you.

Yes. Yes.

I’ll see you in court.

I’m sorry. I just…

I’ll see you in court.



Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth…

…and nothing but the truth, so help you God?


You’ve been on the bench how long?

[IN NORMAL VOICE] Forty-two years.

How many violent crimes have you ruled on in that time?

Objection. The defendant’s history as a judge is not relevant.

Your Honor, the state has introduced evidence that suggests a motive…

…for the alleged crime related to the judge’s duties.

I’m entitled to rebut that laughable presumption.


It’s not something I keep track of.

Would it surprise you to learn…

…that you presided over 17 murder trials…

…434 assaults…

…12,942 civil cases?

JOSEPH: It would not.

Did you run over any of those folks?


Rein it in, Mr. Palmer.

Just lost your wife?

JOSEPH: Yes. HANK: How long were you married?

Fifty years.

How did she pass?

She spent the morning kneeling.

She fussed over her hydrangeas.

A blood clot formed in her left leg…

…and went to her heart.

The day of the accident, what did you do that morning?

I buried your mother… Uh, my wife.

HANK: Tough day. How did you feel?



…dark, raining.

Do you remember hitting the victim?

I do not.

Thank you.

Nothing further.

Would it be fair to say that you disliked Mark Blackwell?


Wished him ill?

I did.




Deputy Hanson testified that you told him…

…that only you were allowed to drive that car.

Not even your late wife.

It’s my car.

DWIGHT: But now a man’s blood, a man that you hate…

…was found on a car that only you drive.

But you don’t know how it got there.

I do not. No.

A six-foot-one, 220-pound man…

…that’s a pretty big old boy, on a steel bicycle.

But you’re in the dark about it all.

Objection. Asked and answered.



So on one of the worst days of your life…

…you enter the mini-mart…

…you see a man you hate…

Objection. Argumentative.

Let him finish.

DWIGHT: You see a man that you hate, and minutes later…

…you’ve altered your route…

…and both you and that man are on the same road at the same time…

…only you’re in your car with his blood on it…

…and he’s in a ravine with his kidneys ruptured and his back broken…

…and you don’t remember hitting him?

I do not.


So you’re telling this court…

…under oath, which I know you understand better than most…

…that a man who killed somebody on your watch…

…a man you released…

…who drowned a 16-year-old girl…

…a man that you absolutely hate…

…on the worst day of your life…

…and you have the perfect opportunity to balance the scales of justice…

…and your testimony is that you didn’t seize that chance and kill him.


No further questions.

That’s not my testimony.


DWIGHT: Sir, how have I mischaracterized your testimony?

Objection. He said no more questions.

Your Honor?

My testimony is…

…that I don’t remember hitting him.

Your Honor, may I request a brief recess?


Mr. Palmer…

…Judge Palmer…

…do you think you killed him intentionally?

Objection. Calls for speculation. Move to strike.




WARREN: Order.


WARREN: Order, order! Settle down.

Thank you, Your Honor. No further questions.

Redirect, judge?


So you think you did it?

Correct. HANK: Okay. You think.

But not because you remember hitting him.

JOSEPH: That’s right.

No, your opinion is you hit him on purpose.


I just said yes.

Why do you think you can’t remember?

My wife just died.

Undergoing any medical treatment?

DWIGHT: Objection. Relevance?

Goes to state of mind, Your Honor. WARREN: Overruled.

You and I are finally done.

We’re not done. JOSEPH: We are.

C.P., you’re up.

Sit down, Mr. Kennedy.

You’re done when you answer me.

JOSEPH: No, no, no.

Answer it.

You’re not my lawyer!

You’re a witness. Answer my question.

I’m of sound mind and body, and it’s none of your goddamn business…

Sit down! I’m not done.

None, none, none!

Sit down!


Judge Palmer.

It’s your right to seek other counsel if you so choose.

But you’ll have to do so after you’ve completed your testimony.

Yes, sir.

HANK: I’ll ask you again:

Undergoing any medical treatment?

Yes or no?



HANK: For how long?

JOSEPH: Six months.

HANK: Chemo, that’s cancer?

Yes. HANK: Prognosis?

It’s advanced.

Did your doctor caution you against the potential side effects of chemotherapy?

Yes, he did.

What are they?

Nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite…

Delusions, fits of anger, depression, memory loss?

Yeah, but none of that applies to me.

HANK: Really?

What would happen to all the cases you presided over…

…if it were determined that your mental actuality was diminished?

Objection. Counsel is trying to prejudice the jury.

WARREN: Overruled.

All those trials…

…they would be declared mistrials, would they not?

Potentially, yes.

A stain on your reputation.

You’d do anything to avoid that, would you not?

No, no, no!

Then why don’t you remember…

…seeing Blackwell that night?

I remember him. I just don’t recall, uh…

…hitting that son of a bitch.

HANK: What do you remember?

I remember he, uh…

…opened his disgusting mouth.

What could he possibly have said?

MARK: Hey, judge.

Sorry to hear about your wife.

You know…

…she ain’t buried more than 50 feet from Hope.

I’m not gonna have to walk too far to piss on both graves.

He got them.


Doesn’t add up.

I don’t buy it. It can’t be the first time someone’s insulted you. It’s your job.

Why did you go easy on him the first time?

Of all the judges in Indiana, the one with the tightest…

You gave him 30 days.

He threatened her, discharged a firearm at her residence.

That’s six months. A year.


What was your reasoning?

A hundred and 80 days, that’s solid. Maybe he’d have cooled off.

Maybe he doesn’t kill Hope. Maybe we’re not here.

Of all the years you sat on that bench…

…all the people that stood before you, the leniency…

…the understanding, the free ride goes to Mark Blackwell?

How do you explain that lapse in judgment?


I looked at him and saw you.

Same willful disobedience…

…same recklessness.

I looked at him and saw my middle son.

My little boy.

My little boy.

I watched him cry right there.

I wanted to put my arms around him and tell him it didn’t have to be like this.

I wanted someone to help him…

…like I’d want someone to help my boy…


…if he lost his way.

It was my chance to be…

…that someone. Is that so much to ask?

Maybe so. Maybe so.

I have memories.

Of us.

You, me.

Then I don’t.

How come?


Why? Heh, heh.



I looked at you and I saw him.

Your Honor, may the deputy please approach?

Last question: This man’s been your bailiff for 22 years. What is his name?


You don’t know?


I’d like to go home now, okay?

Nothing further, Your Honor.

SAM: Hey.

You okay?

I don’t know.

Depends on the verdict.

I’m Carla’s dad, right?

This again?

Why can’t you just let it go?

She’s fine.

Of course she is.

She was born nine months after I split.

Either that or you cheated on me. Either way, it’s not fine.

One version is slightly less not fine than the other.

And the thing is… Listen.

God, this is ugly.

Here it is. I met Carla at the tavern. Blind.

Okay? I’m there with Dale and Glen, and…

He’s her father.

He who’s her father?

Yeah, Glen doesn’t know.

Not my… My brother?

It was just the one time…

Glen? That fucker?


What do you mean, what?


You left!

Fuck off! I went to a Metallica concert.

And you never came back!

He was broken, he was sweet, he was almost normal. I needed a little normal.

That makes me what?

A more superior prick who never shit between two shoes.

Damn it, Hank.

I loved you then and I love you now. I do.

I love how you are simultaneously…

…the most selfish and the most generous person I know.

I love how you hate a bully while you’re being one.

But your constant second-guessing of others, that crystal-ball bullshit?

That hyper-verbal vocabulary-vomit thing that you do.

I disappeared around you, Hank.

Say it again.

All of it?


HANK: Yep.

GUS: Jury entering. All rise.

Be seated.

Mr. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?

We have, Your Honor.

What say you in the matter of the State of Indiana v. Joseph Palmer…

…on the charge of murder in the first degree?

We find the defendant not guilty.


And on the lesser included charge of voluntary manslaughter?

We find the defendant guilty.




WARREN: Order.

Move for sentencing, Your Honor.

WARREN: This case has been a most tragic occurrence…

…as I am required to impose an appropriate sentence.

But as you know all too well, sir…

…that is the job.

I am therefore sentencing you to serve four years in state prison.


WARREN: Sentence is to begin forthwith.

Deputy, please take Judge Palmer into custody.




GLEN: Dad? Dad?

Yeah. Yeah. GLEN: Dad.

JOSEPH: I’ve always been proud of you. Always will be.


Always will be.

Come here. Say goodbye to Dad.

Come here.

Listen to me. You’re a strong man, not a boy, okay?

I need you to look after your brother for me. Now, can you do that?


Okay, Dad.

And this camera. I know it’s a buffer for you.

Use it.

But you don’t need it. Okay? DALE: Okay, Dad.



WARREN: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, thank you for your service.

You’re excused.

This court is adjourned.




Do we expect an appeal?


Ninety percent of the country believes in ghosts…

…less than a third in evolution.

Thirty-five percent can…

…correctly identify Homer Simpson and the town in which he resides.

Less than 1 percent knows the name Thurgood Marshall.

But when you put 12 Americans together on a jury and you ask for justice…

…something just south of brilliance happens.

Often as not, they get it right.

You know, uh…

…six weeks we prepped Burke’s mistress for the infamous Hank Palmer cross.

And you went easy on her.

I did?

Might cost you your job.

Well, you know, when you lose…

…you lose. Heh.

And when you’re on a streak, you know, you just…

…stick with it.

GUARD: Sign here and here to take possession.



HANK: You look good. You warm enough?

JOSEPH: Yeah. HANK: Too warm?

JOSEPH: Knock it off.


Glen and Dale stopped for more bait.


Remember you used to bring these home?

Yeah. Give me some.


Give me some to take home too.

There you go.

You little gremlins, you inhaled these.

Remember? Inhaled them. Ha, ha.


Till Dale jerked a filling out, ruined it for everybody.


Your mother nailed me for it.


Fucking Dale.


He’s the greatest.


Want some water?


Remember what you’d say if you thought I had one on me?

BOTH: “Where my Bit O’ Honey, old man?”


Worked every time.


You are.

I am? What?


Question you asked me about best lawyer and all?

You picked the fella you work with.

I choose you.

You know…

…Glen could’ve really been something.

No doubt about it.



Five bucks I catch a sunfish before you.

Feeling lucky.


Come on, come on.

That’s nothing.





GLEN: Close your eyes.

Green, orange. Go. Close your eyes.

One, two, three. Closing, closing, closing.


GLEN: You didn’t make it.

Thanks for doing this. It’s nice.


I’m gonna close the place early tonight.

If you wanna come by around, I don’t know, 9-ish, let’s say…

…I’ll save a piece of pie for you.


Where you going?

HANK: Get some air.

GLEN: Hey.

I just wanted to, you know, have a moment before you run out.

HANK: Just gonna get some air.

I know, but you disappear.

I just wanna…


Palmer, you asshole!

HANK: I’m right here!

I’m from here!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More

The Listener (2022)

The Listener (2022) | Transcript

Follows a helpline volunteer who is part of the small army that gets on the phone every night, fielding calls from all kinds of people feeling lonely, broken, etc.

Shrek (2001)

Shrek (2001) | Transcript

A mean lord exiles fairytale creatures to the swamp of a grumpy ogre, who must go on a quest and rescue a princess for the lord in order to get his land back.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) | Transcript

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper and a drifter named Max.

Weekly Magazine

Get the best articles once a week directly to your inbox!