“When there is no justice, the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie.”

No 356 Posted by fw, December 7, 2011

Scenes from the movies –

Fictional lawyer Frank Galvin’s summation speech to the jury in the movie, The Verdict, seems particularly relevant in this age where lying is so pervasive as to be accepted by ordinary folks with a blasé shrug of the shoulders. 

The complete text of Galvin’s terse, eloquent, quietly intense closing speech to the jury follows, but, first, to put the scene in context, here is the plot synopsis –

In Sidney Lumet’s powerful courtroom drama, The Verdict (1982), Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), an alcoholic Boston lawyer on a downward spiral tries to redeem his personal and professional reputation by taking on a difficult medical malpractice case. A young woman, admitted to a large Catholic hospital to have a baby, has been left in a coma. The causal circumstances of the medical misfortune are disputed. When Frank visits the victim in the hospital, he is convinced this is a case of medical malpractice. Acting against the wishes of the patient’s family, Galvin turns down a sizable settlement offer made by the Archdiocese of Boston, who run the hospital, and decides to bring the case to trial. Plot complications arise – the presiding judge is biased in the defendant’s favour, the powerful corporate lawyer for the defence, Ed Concannon (James Mason), bribes the plaintiff’s medical expert to take a holiday and plants a spy in Galvin’s office. The courtroom scenes build to a climax centering on the last-minute appearance of a witness for the prosecution with damning evidence against the attending anesthesiologist. On a technicality, the testimony is tossed out. Justice appears to have been thwarted. This sets up Galvin’s closing address to the jury, which is much more emotionally charged to watch than to read –

The Summation Scene —

Judge – “Mr Galvin.” <Louder> “Mr Galvin! Summation.”

Frank Galvin — <Sigh, long pause, deep sigh expressing considerable exasperation> –

“You know, so much of the time we’re just lost. We say, please God, tell us what is right. Tell us what is true. When there is no justice – the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time we become dead, a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims. And we become victims. We become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. Well, today you are the law. You are the law. Not some book. Not the lawyers. Not the marble statue or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are, they are, in fact, a prayer, a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say act as if ye had faith. Faith will be given to you. If, if we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.”

SEE ALSO — The Verdict, movie trailer

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