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The Most Persuasive Closing Argument EVER!

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Published on Jul 13, 2013

This scene/clip from "A Time to Kill," [(Warner Bros., 1996) (directed by Joel Schumacher, based on a John Grisham novel)] had a major emotional and psychological impact on me when this film was released -- that Hollywood would "boldly go" there:




In order to save his client (and himself -- and his family, even), Attorney Jake Tyler Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) had to admit (to himself, and indirectly to the jurors) why he never warned anyone about Carl Lee Hailey's (Samuel L. Jackson) intent to exact vengeance for his daughter Tonya Hailey (Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly).

Important: Just. Close. Your. Eyes.

Thank you, IMDB.com for most of the transcriptions:

Hailey [to Brigance]: America is a war and you are on the other side. How's a black man ever going to get a fair trial with the enemy on the bench and in the jury box?. My life in white hands? You Jake, that's how. You are my secret weapon because you are one of the bad guys. You don't mean to be but you are. It's how you was raised. N[*****], negro, black, African-American, no matter how you see me, you see me different, you see me like that jury sees me, you are them. Now throw out your points of law Jake. If you was on that jury, what would it take to convince you to set me free? That's how you save my ass. That's how you save us both.

***

Brigance: [in his summation, talking about Tonya Hailey]: ... What is it in us that seeks the truth? Is it our minds or is it our hearts?

I set out to prove a black man could receive a fair trial in the south, that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. That's not the truth, because the eyes of the law are human eyes -- yours and mine -- and until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be evenhanded. It will remain nothing more than a reflection of our own prejudices, so until that day we have a duty under God to seek the truth, not with our eyes and not with our minds where fear and hate turn commonality into prejudice, but with our hearts -- where we don't know better.

Now I wanna tell you a story ...

I'm going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please.

This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her. They drag her into a nearby field and they tie her up and they rip her clothes from her body. Now they climb on. First one, then the other, raping her, shattering everything innocent and pure with a vicious thrust in a fog of drunken breath and sweat. And when they're done, after they've killed her tiny womb, murdered any chance for her to have children, to have life beyond her own, they decide to use her for target practice. They start throwing full beer cans at her. They throw them so hard that it tears the flesh all the way to her bones. Then they urinate on her.

Now comes the hanging. They have a rope. They tie a noose. Imagine the noose going tight around her neck and with a sudden blinding jerk she's pulled into the air and her feet and legs go kicking. They don't find the ground. The hanging branch isn't strong enough. It snaps and she falls back to the earth. So they pick her up, throw her in the back of the truck and drive out to Foggy Creek Bridge. Pitch her over the edge. And she drops some thirty feet down to the creek bottom below.

Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white.

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