EXT. OSSINING CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - EARLY MORNING
Mist shrouds the prison.
C.U. - EYES
Closed. Then the lids fly wide open.
An ASIAN MAN sits up on his cot, coming out of sleep with a
gasp. SHU KAI KIM is in his late 20s. With a muscled torso
and shaved head meant to inspire fear. And to hide it.
INT. CELLBLOCK - LATER
The electrified doors slide OPEN. Shu steps out of his cell.
ORTEGA -- a rugged young Chicano -- steps out of a nearby
cell. The two cons trade small nods.
The CONS walk in single file. Ortega is behind Shu. Ortega
speaks softly, with barely perceptible lip movement.
Fear will kill you.
Shu's replies are like a ventriloquist's, as well. The two
men are running through some sort of arcane drill.
I'm not afraid.
You know I'd stand in for you... But
then, believing you are weak, they'd
come for you anyway.
No. I want this.
Good. Right after chapel... it's
going down in the yard.
Now Shu and Ortega file into:
INT. PRISON CHAPEL - MORNING
On the dais, the MINISTER leads a small CONVICT CHOIR.
REVERSE - THE CONGREGATION
The cons have segregated themselves into sullen groups of
black, white, and brown.
CLOSE - FOUR CONS
At the rear. SHU is flanked by TWO stringy CHICANOS. Ortega
sits behind Shu. All four stare ahead with an intense
ANGLE - FROM THE SIDE
Now we see what's really happening: Shu grips two sharpened
spoons. The Chicanos wrap duct tape around Shu's fists -- so
that even if he wanted to, he couldn't let go of the knives.
ANGLE - A WHITE CON
In front. DUANE LINDEMAN is burly, with long blond locks,
his arms decorated with SWASTIKAS. Tattooed on one cheek are
three black teardrops. Lindeman is surrounded by OTHERS like
him. All SINGING a hymn to the Lord Jesus.
THROUGH THE CHAPEL DOORS
A disturbance out in the hall: we hear THUMPS, loud CURSING.
and FRIENDS just keep on singing.
The rest of the Congregation turns around, to see what's
going on. The TWO CORRECTIONS OFFICERS at the rear of the
Chapel venture to the door and peer out, truncheons drawn.
TWO WHITE INMATES spring out of opposing back row aisle seats
and SLAM SHUT the Chapel doors on the C.O.s -- who immediately
start POUNDING on the doors with their STICKS.
ONSTAGE - A hulking WHITE member of the CHOIR discreetly
moves to block the fire exit offstage.
SHU AND ORTEGA
turn back around to face what appears at first glance to be
a grotesque apparition:
seems to be flying from the front of the chapel toward them,
blond hair flowing, arms waving, a warlock...
In fact, he's racing from the top of one pew-back to the
next -- and his HANDS are duct-taped, too, around not
sharpened spoons, but long, serrated blades.
Motherfuckers! Not in here!
A SIREN WAILS as Lindeman leaps at Shu -- who executes a
perfectly timed karate throw, sending Lindeman over his
shoulder to land sprawling in the aisle.
Lindeman's tattooed ACCOMPLICES move to help. Ortega holds
them off. Before Lindeman can right himself, Shu pins the
blond Goliath. Brings a fist to Lindeman's neck, sharpened
spoon pressed against the neo-Nazi's jugular.
Outraged, the MINISTER claws his way through the crowd of
Shu is breathing too hard to demand that Lindeman concede.
But his message is clear. Now, in gasps:
Instead, Shu lifts the sharpened spoon away from Lindeman's
neck. Carefully climbs off, steps back.
Lindeman lies there defeated. Then looses a startling banshee
SCREAM and springs, blades flashing, at Shu.
They're like two snarling cats. Wrestling so furiously, we
see only a blur of flesh, glint of metal. Splash of blood.
A RING of INMATES forms around the combatants. Some CHEER,
others SHOUT for the fight to stop. None dare interfere.
Now the BACK DOORS virtually fly off their hinges as a HALF-
DOZEN C.O.s in RIOT GEAR charge the Chapel.
It takes all six to drag the bloody cons apart. Shu
immediately goes limp; Duane Lindeman is slack, twitching.
Horrified, the Minister backs off, vestments soaked in gore.
EXT. JFK AIRPORT - MORNING
A CAB merges onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
AERIAL SHOT - MANHATTAN ISLAND
We PAN to the Brooklyn Bridge and PICK UP the CAB as it hits
In the back seat, face pressed to the glass, is ROGER BARON.
A 25-year-old whose persona straddles two worlds: In his
Brooks Brothers suit he'd be welcome in any boardroom. With
his Buddy Holly glasses and conceptually cropped hair, he's
someone you'd want in your band. Roger checks his watch.
Could I give you some extra money,
have you drop me at the Courthouse
and bring my luggage to the hotel?
The CABBIE turns around, at a red light. No creepier than
the average New York Cabbie. He is smiling.
Roger smiles back. Big problem.
EXT. 100 CENTRE STREET
Manhattan's fortress-like Criminal Courts Building. Roger
climbs out of the cab, lugging a suitcase, a briefcase, a
duffel bag and a garment bag.
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR
To a COURT OFFICER:
I'm looking for the court where Edward
T. Dowd is defending a Mr. Nevins.
The Court Officer consults the docket sheet.
That's the Edward Dowd.
The Court Officer blinks at Roger.
Part 73, Room 1113.
That's the Room 1113.
An Assistant D.A. stands before the JURY, in mid-summation.
Edward Dowd is an inventive lawyer.
I'm sure he'd like you to believe
that the pound of pure cocaine found
in his client's home was intended
for personal, recreational use.
Several JURORS stifle snickers.
He may claim that the many pounds of
baby laxative were intended to help
Mr. Nevins stay regular.
More muted SOUNDS of amusement, from the gallery, as Roger
ENTERS. He quietly deposits his luggage in the empty back
row, then moves to the front row, behind the defense table.
Seated there is a slick, natty DEFENSE ATTORNEY. Next to him
is a wired and weird-looking DEFENDANT in a threadbare suit,
the cut decades out of date.
What will Mr. Dowd say the defendant
weighed on his laboratory scales?
Oh, he'll think of something... But
bear in mind that you jurors control
the scales that really count -- the
scales of justice. Only you can ensure
that the defendant -- a man who sells
dangerous drugs to teenagers, for
ANGLE - THE DEFENDANT
winces. He's in his mid-40s, his face framed by a MANE of
HAIR that hangs to his shoulders. His vintage suit accented
by an embarrassingly wide and loud floral-print tie.
...will pay a penalty. Be wise, be
fair, and have courage. Thank you.
As she crosses to the Prosecution Table:
Thank you, Ms. Jessum. Mr. Sweeney,
may I have a word with you?
As Mr. Sweeney -- the Court Officer -- confers with the Judge,
Roger leans forward. Whispers to the Defense Attorney:
Roger Baron. Sorry I'm late.
The Defense Attorney looks mildly baffled. Regardless, Roger
extends a hand.
This is an honor. And a thrill.
But what the hell: he shakes with Roger.
Now the DEFENDANT turns, to see what's going on. Trying to
breathe as much empathy as he can into the one syllable:
The Defendant has fixed Roger with the sort of soul-piercing
stare it takes many acid trips to perfect. So, delicately:
What're you, um, accused of?
All sorts of things. How 'bout you?
Me? N-no, I'm a lawyer, I'm here to
work with Mr. Dowd...
Nodding at the Defense Attorney. We HEAR a POUNDING gavel.
Mr. Dowd, would you care to make
your closing argument?
Roger pats the Defendant's shoulder. Reassures:
You're in good hands.
The Defendant lifts his eyebrows, as though to say "Is that
so?" Turns back around. And, for some reason, he rises.
I would, your Honor.
Confused, at first -- then mortified: omigod, that's Dowd!
EDWARD C. DOWD
takes three long, crooked strides over to the Jury Box, hands
clasped behind his back, hair streaming.
Brian Nevins' pound of pure cocaine
was quite clearly intended for sale.
The JURORS look surprised. So does the D.A. So does BRIAN
The baby laxative -- dealers use it
to dilute their coke before selling
it. They can -- quadruple their
NEVINS throws a jittery glance at the jury.
...and of course you can't sell
cocaine without a laboratory scale.
Eddie strikes a tone of cosmic lamentation.
Cocaine is evil. Selling cocaine is
Nevins checks his mental Rolodex for a great appeals lawyer.
Pity this foolish merchant. Dislike
him if you must. But despise the
tactics the police employed to snare
Brian Nevins... Don't lose sight of
what's really on trial here -- our
basic personal freedoms, our quality
"Freedoms" and "life" are rendered as startling SHOUTS that
make the Jurors sit up straight.
Sublime concepts, such as "the right
of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and
Eddie's delivery suggests an unholy but hard-to-dismiss hybrid
of rabbi and diva.
For when we condone the bugging of
our citizens' bedrooms, when we allow
the police to enter our citizens'
homes with specious warrants, when
we invade our citizens' privacy in a
frenzied quest for a wicked white
powder, aren't we capitulating to
the evil, aren't we surrendering to
the drug? Aren't we saying cocaine
is more potent than our Constitution?
EXT. COURTHOUSE - AFTERNOON - LATER
Roger maintains a discreet distance behind Eddie and Nevins
as lawyer and client stroll down the steps.
Wow, that speech... It was beautiful.
Nevins isn't sure how to respond. So he gives Eddie a quick,
vigorous, almost hostile hug.
Eddie Dowd... Everybody should own
Nevins spins away, hops into his girlfriend's double-parked
Porsche. As the happy couple blasts off down the block, Roger
draws even with Eddie.
About the mix-up back there... I,
ah, never saw your photo, I just
read every civil liberties brief you
filed in the '60s...
Eddie distractedly nods. Then rotely sticks out his hand.
Hey, it was nice meeting ya. Gotta
get back to the office.
It takes Roger a beat to realize the awful truth.
Roger Baron, Oberlin undergrad,
Michigan Law? None of this rings a
Exactly. Amused, now, by the absurd series of missteps:
You hired me? To clerk for you? My
letter...? Top 5 percentile, Law
Review, salary is no object...?
This last detail apparently jogs Eddie's memory.
They start trudging to the subway station. Roger awkwardly
lugs his suitcase, garment bag, duffel bag and briefcase.
Here, lemme help you.
He grabs the briefcase.
EXT. SHERIDAN SQUARE - LATER
Several streets converge here; so do gays, yuppies, and
diehard bohemians. As Eddie and Roger emerge from the IRT
station, and cross 7th Avenue:
...read your Chase Manhattan bombing
case summation in the '71 Leftist
Eddie lives and works over a landmark cigar store and an
eyesore of an all-night deli. As he unlocks the downstairs
door, Roger takes in the seedily picturesque Square.
So this is Greenwhich Village?
Eddie smiles. Somewhere between sarcastic and self-effacing:
Yes Roger. You've arrived.
He starts up the stairs. Roger follows.
INT. LAW OFFICE
Balding rugs, macrame hanging things, birdcages, Salvation
Army couches. TWO leather-clad SCARECROWS pace; a teenage
GIRL with blue hair squats on the floor, comforting her
SQUALLING INFANT. Then there's the slick young COUPLE in
Ralph Lauren Polo ensembles, here with a furtive STRAIGHT-
ARROW who scans the Wall Street Journal.
A crew-cutted secretary (BILLY) types with one hand, grabs
the RINGING PHONE with the other. To judge by her typing and
telephone skills, she was hired for her capacity to manage
Roger has struggled up the stairs, behind Eddie. Though he
quickly notes the office's squalor and questionable clientele,
what catches his eye is the trio of cracked and yellowing
PHOTOGRAPHS tacked on a wall in the foyer.
Eddie in his late-'60s glory days: On a dais, igniting an
anti-war rally. Hugging a pair of Black Panthers outside a
courtroom, his face suffused with joy. In a swarm of student
activists outside a Federal courthouse, held on the shoulders
of the crowd like a conquering hero.
As his gaze lingers on the photographs:
...and re-read that summation til I
knew it verbatim. You were my age
when you defended that case.
Eddie edgily pushes Roger past the photos.
I was never your age.
The SCARECROWS clamor for Eddie, e.g., "You gotta call my
parole officer!" and "Did we get the continuance?" Eddie
ignores. Addresses his secretary.
Billy -- this here's Roger, the new
Eddie wheels away, answers the RINGING PHONE (grunting a
perfunctory promise into it), then gestures for Straight-
Arrow and Slick Couple to come into his inner office. Roger
starts to follow, but Eddie shuts his inner office door behind
You want to be an "assistant" or an
Roger turns to see Billy tugging on her denim jacket.
Some of them like "assistant," some
like "associate". Up to you.
-- How many others are there?
As Billy, wearing a slight smirk, bustles out the door:
You're the current one.
Roger wistfully watches her go. OS, he HEARS:
You Eddie's new partner?
SCARECROW 1 is standing a tad too close for comfort. Still,
Roger is grateful for the attempt at friendliness.
Not exactly. Well, kind of.
Roger flinches, lets out an involuntary YELP as Scarecrow
grabs his lapels, shakes him.
You gotta call my parole officer!
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR - DAY - A FEW WEEKS LATER
A spruce ASSISTANT D.A. (GLENN FULTON) jauntily exits a
courtroom. Followed by a grim-faced Eddie, with Roger and
CLYDE GRUNER, a sullen, street-hardened PUNK.
(to his client)
Clyde, you wait here.
(to the D.A.)
Glenn, got a minute?
I had a minute before the Mapp hearing --
but I couldn't get you on the phone,
Yeah, well I had reasonable cause to
believe the judge might've heard of
the Fourth Amendment.
We TRACK with Fulton, Eddie and Roger as they thread through
the THRONG of milling lawyers, clients, relations and cops.
Hey -- Gruner was caught with three
pounds of methedrine. The legality
of the search and seizure was the
only issue. The Judge refused to
exclude the evidence. No deal.
He turns a corner. So does Eddie.
No it's not the only issue. There's
another issue, for the jury. What
What about entrapment?
Fulton veers into the Men's Room. Eddie follows.
INT. MEN'S ROOM
Roger enters, behind Eddie.
Glenn, the government sent an
undercover cop to dangle the lure of
fantastic profits before Clyde
Gruner's eyes. Anyone so sorely
tempted might succumb!
Roger lingers at the sink as Eddie follows Fulton to the
We don't prosecute people because in
the abstract they might be weak.
Judge Brandeis said it best:
Entrapment is a "dirty business!"
Can't I take a simple piss without --
Eddie's voice trembles with outrage and inspiration.
Don't you see? Planting the idea of
being a criminal is just one step
away from planting the evidence!
Fulton flushes. Grudgingly:
Haven't heard that one before, Ed.
(zips up, sighs)
But I guess I'll be hearing it again.
Roger backs out of the bathroom.
Clyde is standing out here. Roger has nothing to say to Clyde.
He goes to the water fountain for a very long sip.
INT. LAW OFFICE - EARLY EVENING
At this hour, the office is empty. As EDDIE and ROGER enter:
Nevins stopped by. It's on your desk.
As he lopes toward his inner office:
We pleaded out Clyde Gruner to five
Score another point for truth and
Eddie stops, shoots Billy a "fuck you too" look. Then turns
to Roger and staunchly reaffirms:
The last struggle for constitutional
rights is being waged over drugs...
INT. INNER OFFICE
Atop his desk is a package wrapped in newspaper. Eddie tears
it open, revealing small bills bundled with rubber bands. As
he counts the cash:
And we're in the ring, Roger, doing
battle with Big Brother.
Roger turns away from the drug money, embarrassed and ashamed.
INT. OUTER OFFICE - NIGHT - LATER
Now Billy is gone as well. ROGER sits in his cramped anteroom
of an office, mechanically making notes. OS, there's a KNOCK.
He doesn't bother looking up -- who cares which East Village
doper or Yuppie coke dealer it is? But then he hears:
ANGLE - TWO ORIENTAL WOMEN
are in the outer office. One is college-age, assimilated.
The other is in her early 40s, with the aspect of an
immigrant. A vinyl satchel is slung over her shoulder. The
younger woman has come -- reluctantly, it seems -- to
translate for the older.
Edward Dowd, please.
Roger gets up from his desk. Hurries into the big room.
I'm Roger Baron -- Mr. Dowd's
associate. Can I help you?
The Immigrant anxiously peers past Roger. She knows he's not
Mrs. Kim needs a lawyer. Her son
stabbed a man to death.
In response Mrs. Kim -- who evidently understands English --
makes a passionate point, in a foreign tongue.
It was self-defense. In prison.
This clarification elicits another burst from Mrs. Kim.
He didn't belong there in the first
place. Eight years for a murder he
I'm her neighbor's daughter.
Without turning away:
Finally Eddie comes striding in from his office. Waving away
a cloud of pot smoke that's followed him out. He gives the
women his patented reassuring smile.
I'm Eddie Dowd. What's up?
Mrs. Kim starts in again, rapid-fire. The Translator spews:
Her son didn't shoot anybody. He's
the wrong guy. You meet him, you see
he wouldn't stab a guy for fun.
He shot a man and stabbed a man?
Mrs. Kim violently shakes her head as she chatters.
He didn't shoot anybody! Eight years
in jail! The wrong guy! A good boy.
From a fine home in Seoul, Korea.
Shu Kai Kim.
Mrs. Kim finally quiets. The Translator takes a breath. And
That's his name. Shu Kai Kim.
Eddie nods, solemnly taking all this in. Then:
I'll bet he's a wonderful boy.
Roger watches Eddie, to see where he's going. Hides his
disappointment when he hears:
But I can't help him. You see I have
a specialty. Lawyers specialize,
Mrs. Kim, and these days I do
He doesn't bother explaining.
Anyway, I couldn't even go see your
son without looking at the files on
his case, first.
In response Mrs. Kim swings her satchel -- bulging with Shu's
files -- into Eddie's arms. It's like taking a medicine ball
to the chest. When he catches his breath:
How did you find me?
(over Mrs. Kim)
She went to all the courthouses. She
talked to pot smokers, pill sellers...
They all speak of you, they all say
the same thing.
Eddie can't help but puff up a little.
What do they say?
Mrs. Kim answers in Korean. Translator hesitates. Then:
You do cases cheap.
Roger stifles a laugh. Eddie lowers Mrs. Kim's satchel to
the floor and places a hand on her shoulder.
Tell you what. Mr. Baron and I will
review your material and get back to
you as soon as possible.
Mrs. Kim intently peers at Eddie to gauge his sincerity. He
boldly meets her gaze as he steers her to the door.
Thank you for stopping by.
Evidently convinced, Mrs. Kim makes a parting remark.
She thanks you in advance for saving
Eddie flashes one last smile, then closes the door on the
women. Roger shakes his head, bemused and moved.
"She thanks you in advance for saving
He picks up the vinyl satchel, starts pulling out papers.
Eddie feels compelled to poison the moment.
Talk about hard-sell, huh?
He snorts, incredulous, as he crosses the room.
Show me a guy who's not somebody's
Roger looks up at this remark. Then sets down the satchel.
INT. EDDIE'S INNER OFFICE
Eddie has re-lit his evening joint. As he settles back to
enjoy it, there's Roger in the doorway.
Rather than reach for the joint, Roger mops his brow.
Whew. That was close... We almost
defended a guy who wasn't a dealer.
Who knows, might even be innocent.
Eddie chuckles, defensive. Then:
We have a full caseload, Rog.
Right, I forgot... We're pledged to
protect every mid-level drug dealer
in the Tri-state area.
It's an awesome responsibility.
I don't venerate drug dealers, Roger.
To the contrary.
THE OUTER OFFICE
...through use of informants,
eavesdropping, unreasonable search
Right. You're right.
Damn right I'm right.
Roger starts for the door. Stops. Turns.
It's just... I leave behind friends,
family, a coupla good job offers in
Chicago and in three dizzying weeks
I've helped acquit a coke dealer, a
speed dealer --
I specialize, Roger...
-- an angel dust dealer --
I'm not a kid anymore, I can't be
all over the map --
-- a speed manufacturer --
So go take your job on Wall Street.
Don't tell me where to work. I moved
to New York to work for Edward Dowd.
But I can't believe that Edward Dowd
has nothing better to do these days
than invoke exalted legal issues to
get off guilty little --
Hey. You plan to be a criminal defense
attorney, know this going in:
This buys Roger's silence, for two beats. Then, sadly:
You wouldn't've said that ten years
He grabs his briefcase. Starts for the door. As he swings it
open he HEARS:
Ten years is a long time.
Look -- I'm tired, I'll see you in
the morning, Eddie.
Eddie watches him walk out. Drops the joint and vengefully
grinds it out on the floor. To the closed door:
Alone, now, he surveys his shabby domain and sighs, deeply.
As he exhales, Eddie seems to be trying to blow away all the
pot smoke that has clouded the room and shrouded his heart.
Then he shambles across the office and through the door that
leads to his living quarters. We TRACK with EDDIE past a
kitchenette equipped with no labor-saving devices into:
Small, and beyond spartan. Single bed in one corner, plain
wooden bureau opposite. The only color is provided by Eddie's
festive trial ties, casually strewn. Eddie's bedroom is not
unlike a cell we saw at the beginning of the movie.
Eddie stands at the window, trying to stare past the security
bars into the New York night. But all he can see is his
INT. HOTEL ROOM - EARLY NEXT MORNING
ROGER is roused from sleep by a persistent KNOCKING. He
stumbles out of bed, staggers to the door.
(through the door)
We're late. Let's get going!
Roger opens up. Eddie looks alarmingly revved.
Ossining Correctional Facility. Sing
Sing. Everybody's innocent there,
man... Just ask 'em...
EXT. ROUTE 9 - LATER
Wending north along the Hudson. ANGLE Eddie's rusty old Buick
Riviera as it wheezes its way upstate. OVER:
At 16 Shu Kai Kim emigrated with his
family from Korea to New York...
INT. RIVIERA - MOVING
Roger extracts the pertinent info from the newspaper clippings
in Mrs. Kim's files.
Kim got busted at 19 for burglary.
At 20 he was convicted in the shooting
death of a young Chinese gang lord...
The prosecution claimed Kim did it
to get into "the Joe Boys"?
Chinatown street gang.
Kim denied it. But he admitted the
gun was his, and he got life. Seems
to have been an okay prisoner for
eight years, til the... incident
with Duane Lindeman.
-- The Nazi he knifed?
But Roger is staring ahead now, speechless.
THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD
The turrets and watchtowers of the Ossining Correctional
Facility loom... all too real...
TWO CORRECTIONS OFFICERS lead the lawyers through a security
INT. CONFERENCE ROOM
The room is large and bare but for a long wooden TABLE, four
chairs. Leaden light leaks through one high, barred window.
Eddie and Roger, on one side of the table, anxiously wait.
Roger jumps at the CRUNCH of a deadbolt lock, turning.
Two hefty OFFICERS enter escorting SHU, in manacles. One
pulls out the chair for Shu, the other sits him down. Eddie
waits for them to back out of the room and re-lock the door.
I'm Eddie Dowd. I'm a lawyer. This
here's Roger Baron -- also a lawyer.
Shu's eyes, beady and suspicious, bore into Roger.
Roger wants to smile. But he can't. He stares down at his
Now Shu peruses Eddie's long hair, peculiar suit.
My mother find you?
Want to tell me what went down here?
Racist asshole came at me.
Exactly what happened then?
I killed the motherfucker.
Roger is now furiously scribbling notes; we can almost hear
The night that kid was shot to death
in Chinatown, you were... where?
Shu doesn't answer. Eddie reaches into his jacket pocket,
pulls out a pack of cigarettes. Offers one to Shu. Shu
wordlessly plucks the cigarette from his fingers, careful to
avoid any contact. Eddie lights it.
Now Roger wills himself to look up from his notebook.
At the trial, you said you were at
your apartment that night. Alone.
That's eight years ago. Long time.
He studies his cigarette. No -- he's staring at the shackles
on his wrists. Stares for one, two, three beats. Gravely:
Real long time.
Eddie's eyes flicker: He's heard that phrase, or one quite
like it, somewhere before.
EXT. PRISON - LATE AFTERNOON
The lawyers head for Eddie's Riviera, in the visitor's lot.
...So what would we claim? He stabbed
Duane Lindeman in self-defense?
With two knives taped to his hands?
Forget it, Rog.
Roger sighs. Shrugs.
I feel like I've been mugged... Guy
scared the shit out of me. You made
your point, Eddie... I'm relieved
we're not taking the case.
We're taking the other case.
What other case?
Eight years ago. The Chinatown hit.
Roger stares, baffled, as Eddie orates.
Some gang punk gets wasted in front
of the tourists. The mayor pressures
the cops. The cops pressure the rival
gang -- the Joe Boys. The Joes give
up Shu Kai Kim -- the schmuck kid
from Korea who's been pestering 'em
to get in.
You really think that's what happened?
I don't know but it makes one hell
of an opening statement.
As they reach the Riviera, Eddie's in his all-the-world's-a-
courtroom mode; i.e., he shouts, does semaphore.
We prove Shu should never have been
imprisoned in the first place, D.A.
'll back off the Lindeman charge...!
The lawyers climb in.
-- Easy as that, huh?
Easy? No... We have to find some
piece of evidence that got buried,
to reopen the sucker.
...Are you sure we want that?
Eddie shifts into gear. Pensive, now, as he steers out of
the prison parking lot:
He's a victim, Roger. He deserves to
see the sun again, breathe the air.
He's been in prison too goddamn long.
EXT. STREET - LATE NIGHT - A FEW DAYS LATER
A block of warehouses in lower Manhattan, under the shadow
of the West Side Highway. Out of the drizzly darkness comes
the RIVIERA, headlights doused. The car GROANS to a halt.
Eddie and Roger climb out. Furtively glance around...
Roger follows Eddie to the fortified ENTRANCE of one of the
warehouses. Eddie KNOCKS (in a pattern) on the reinforced
steel door. Three sets of TUMBLERS TURN. The door opens.
Filling the doorframe is the imposing silhouette of a MAN in
Nikes, chinos and windbreaker that must be standard issue
for plainclothes cops. In a Darth Vader voice:
BLACK. Then Tommy flicks ON a row of OVERHEADS, lighting a
long, tall aisle of gunmetal gray LOCKERS. Aisle after aisle,
in shadow, to either side. Reverently, to Roger:
...the Exhibit Warehouse.
END OF THE AISLE - LATER
Tommy paces, checking his Timex.
Eddie and Roger squat on the asphalt, sifting through piles
of paper. Each has two large boxes to process.
He pauses to to contemplate a grisly photo.
INSERT - THE PHOTO
A man's face, in 3/4 profile, with gaping entrance wound
above the left eye. The man is young, Asian, very dead.
Roger hurriedly tucks the picture away. But the next item he
comes upon is:
-- The murder weapon.
He gingerly holds a sealed plastic bag sagging with the weight
of a handgun.
They found four of Shu's fingerprints
on this thing.
Eddie impatiently glances over.
When did you start working for the
Eddie... I don't know about this...
But Eddie has already resumed his search.
An hour later. Roger holds a form, yellowed with age.
Eddie... What's a DD-5?
A Complaint Follow-Up form.
-- Listen: "November 5, 1980. Cecil
Stipe walked into 5th Precinct. Says
he witnessed Chin shooting, saw
suspect's picture in Post. Says Shu
Kai Kim wrong man."
"Cecil Stipe"? Have we seen any
affadavit with that name?
Roger looks at Eddie, slowly shakes his head. Time stops.
Roger looks back down at the memo. Reads:
"Also says he knows who killed
Time starts again. Roger lets the memo flutter to the floor.
Keep looking. Something'll turn up.
Reaching for another sheaf of documents. Rifling through the
pages, running his index finger down columns of text...
END OF THE AISLE - DAWN
Piles of paper everywhere. By the lawyers' haggard looks, we
know something didn't turn up. Tommy surveys the mess.
Eddie looks up, exhausted -- but scheming, still.
How's your brother, Tommy?
You kept him out of the slammer and
I thank you, Dowd. But if you're not
gone before the day shift shows up,
I'm back to emptying parking meters.
Eddie surveys all this evidence, that they've been through
twice. Looks over at Roger.
What, the lunatic who --
"Cecil Stipe." Find it.
EXT. MACDOUGAL STREET - MORNING - TWO DAYS LATER
KITTY GREER strides down the West Village street. Kitty's
40, once cute, now simply sexy, and not apologetic about it.
INT. CAFFE REGGIO
The hangout that time forgot. Kitty finds the table where
Eddie and Roger sip espresso. With studied detachment:
Eddie stands. Pulls out Kitty's chair.
Roger Baron, Kitty Greer.
Roger's my new associate. Top of his
class at Michigan Law.
Kitty smiles at Roger.
You read Eddie's Chase Manhattan
Bombing summation in the Leftist Law
-- Eddie told you?
Eddie clears his throat. Kitty smiles some more.
My skip-trace turned up two Cecil
Stipes. One's in Butte, Montana.
Other's at Riverhead Veterans
I'll take odds on Cecil Number Two.
So what'd this guy do? Snitch off a
You're doing a murder case?
It hasn't been that long.
Kitty disagrees. She starts counting the years, to herself,
on her fingers. Before she can run out of fingers:
Stipe was just one of four
eyewitnesses who came forward, Kitty.
Y'oughta start looking for the
Eddie, I'm not working on this case.
You boys have fun.
She checks her watch.
I have business back on Planet Earth.
Lemme guess. Some corporate V.P.'s
banging his secretary over lunch and
you have to focus your camera and
plug in your little tape recorder.
Beats getting paid in twenties by
slimedogs selling angel dust to high
Kitty, where exactly do you place
the microphone to catch the most
Roger is trying to disappear behind his espresso cup.
Just which Constitutional amendment
protects our right to peddle PCP?
Forget it. You've blown your chance
to participate in this case, Kitty.
I'm kicking myself, Eddie... Right
out of here.
She briskly exits the coffeehouse.
Eddie turns to Roger. Wearing a little grin.
We got her.
EXT. RIVERHEAD VETERANS PSYCHIATRIC - DAY
A gray edifice just outside a blue-collar Long Island town.
As Eddie and Roger ENTER:
You have to gently pressure a guy
like this to test whether he'll keep
it together on the stand...
INT. DAYROOM - CLOSE ON CECIL STIPE
Hollow-eyed, tousle-haired, late-30s. In pajama bottoms and
an olive-drab t-shirt.
Dr. Berger said you g-guys needed to
talk to me...?
WIDE - THE DAYROOM
Depressing in proportion to the attempts to make it cheery.
Eddie and Roger sit at a round wooden table we last saw in
nursery school. As he pulls out a chair, for a wary Stipe:
See-cil. I'm Eddie Dowd, this is
Roger Baron. We're lawyers.
Stipe looks at Roger. Then at Eddie. To Eddie:
You're a l-lawyer?
I... I haven't had my meds, or m-my
vital signs t-taken yet. I...
Mr. Stipe. A young man named Jimmy
Chin was shot to death eight years
ago, in Chinatown. Do you remember
talking to the police?
That guy they arrested -- he was the
Cecil, we want to reopen the case,
and we can't without your testimony.
I want to use what you have to say
so badly -- but I must add, my friend,
that I think you're fucking full of
Roger winces: this is "gentle pressure"?
I think what Eddie wants to say is --
No! They g-got the wrong guy! I saw
it! The killer wasn't Chinese.
Oh come on, Cecil.
Hey, Chinese people have this energy
field that vibrates at a particular
Eddie and Roger trade glances. Then:
Uh, Cecil... What's all this about
the Kennedy assassination?
Stipe's voice goes hollow. He should've known.
You're from the Company.
He anxiously peers past the lawyers -- as though looking for
a hospital orderly, as though looking for help.
I suppose you don't know the phone
company killed Kennedy because he
was trying to b-break it up -- and
they'll never let that happen. They
control everything: what you say in
the mouthpiece is never exactly what
comes out the other end, and --
The phone company was broken up.
(with muted contempt)
And you b-believe that.
(places his hand over
Are you what heroes are made of?
Stipe looks down at Eddie's hand, touching his own. Waits
for a lethal bolt of electricity. But nothing happens.
I did two tours in 'Nam...
Good. Now we're going to take an
affadavit from you, but only
concerning the facts of the Chinatown
shooting. We honestly don't give a
shit about the Kennedy assassination.
Stipe considers whether Eddie and Roger might be on the level.
Are you willing to testify that the
man you saw shoot Jimmy Chin was not
the man the cops arrested?
They g-got the wrong g-guy.
When the D.A. hears I filed the writ,
he'll send someone here, maybe
claiming to be a journalist. That
person will ask you lots of questions.
Just be truthful, Cecil, okay? To
all of us?
I always t-tell the truth.
That's why I'm here.
INT. FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT - MORNING - SIX WEEKS LATER
No jury. CECIL STIPE on the stand. Hair freshly cut, beard
trimmed. In a suit no worse than Eddie's best.
Eddie speaks softly, so as not to excite the mental patient.
...You told the Desk Sergeant you
were certain Mr. Kim wasn't the
You left your telephone number?
Did the police make any attempt to
phone you, to follow up?
Thank you, Mr. Stipe.
Eddie rejoins Roger at the defense table.
Mr. Rabin? You may cross-examine.
Assistant D.A. DEAN RABIN, 30, jumps up -- alert and vigilant,
as though he were the bodyguard of Justice herself.
Mr. Stipe, for how long have you
been a patient at the Riverhead
Veterans Psychiatric Hospital?
Overlapping, Eddie leaps up, ROARS:
Objection, your Honor! The fact that
the witness is currently a patient
Alright. Mr. Stipe, how long have
you resided at the Riverhead Veterans --
Mr. Rabin, you're out of line. The
question is stricken.
But so, unfortunately, is Stipe: his whole body twitches.
Now Rabin moves in for the kill.
Mr. Stipe: you're under oath to tell
the truth and nothing but the truth.
Who killed President Kennedy?
-- Objection! Irrelevant! The witness
is not an expert in --
Your Honor, the question relates
directly to the witness's bail-
I'd l-like to answer the question.
Mr. Rabin has no right to --
CLOSE - STIPE
He's answering. But, given the din of the lawyers' battle,
he can't be heard. Until the Judge POUNDS his gavel.
Lee... H-Harvey... Oswald.
To mouth this hideous lie has taxed all Stipe's strength and
In mid-argument, Eddie stops shouting. He sits.
Never mind, your Honor.
He's left sheepishly smiling at the Judge, who's wondering
what the hell that was about.
INT. PRISON CELL BLOCK - THAT AFTERNOON
Shu is escorted along the tier by TWO C.O.s.
INT. CONFERENCE ROOM
Enter the two C.O.s, with SHU. EDDIE and ROGER wait here.
Shu, the judge has ordered a retrial
in the Chinatown murder case.
Shu's lips move. No sound emerges.
If we can prove reasonable doubt on
your imprisonment eight years ago,
we feel sure the D.A. will reduce
the charge in Lindeman's death. You
may get out of here much sooner.
Now Shu is standing, breathing hard.
Do I -- have to be in the courtroom?
Eddie knows that Shu isn't eager to relive the last trial.
The State won't want to retry an
eight-year-old case... At the pre-
trial conference, an offer'll be
made. Odds are we'll cut some kinda
Roger is searching Shu's face for a ray of hope. Instead he
-- I can't pay you.
That's okay, Shu. We're not billing.
This makes Shu even more uncomfortable. His eyes bore into
Eddie's, searching for an answer.
Finally Eddie supplies it.
You've done enough time, Shu.
Shu holds Eddie's gaze for a beat. Then he nods. And then,
without expression, he backs out of the Conference Room.
CLOSE - X-RAY POSITIVE
As we contemplate a man's shattered skull we hear:
According to the evidence, the bullet,
the wound, the powder burns, Shu's
gun -- they're a perfect match.
INT. EDDIE'S INNER OFFICE
Eddie sits at his desk, across from Roger.
Hey. The cops tell the eyewitnesses,
"Don't doubt your ID, we got 'em
dead on the gun." Meantime they tell
their ballistics expert, "Hey, it's
cool -- three people saw the guy
fire the gun." It's a game, man. And
you know what?
As Eddie continues, Roger queasily flips through a stack of
forensic exhibits. We SEE x-ray positives of Jimmy Chin's
skull, prints of microscopic autopsy slides...
In the eight years since the first
trial, advances in forensic ballistics
analysis will enable us to piss on
The phone starts RINGING.
Now the door swings open -- it's KITTY. As she casually strips
off her overcoat:
Of the prosecution's three original
eyewitnesses, one's dead, one's moved
to Montreal and won't budge...
Kitty catches Roger watching her with a look of pleasant
surprise. With a little smile:
You getting this?
-- Every word.
But they've still got Laura Gordon --
and she was the closest, about 20
feet from the killer.
Eddie appears untroubled.
Gee, maybe she saw the gun.
He pulls a joint from the desk drawer and lights up.
Do you have to do that?
"Have to"? No...
He takes a hit. Then turns to Kitty.
Start looking into the Joe Boys --
who assigned the hits in 1980, what
rank generally did the hits...
Your extensive law enforcement
contacts should be of some use.
I was never politically correct enough
for Comrade Dowd.
The phone starts RINGING again. Shouting through the wall:
No result. So Eddie picks up, as Kitty and Roger continue
TALKING, in b.g.
Eddie grinds out his joint. Signals his colleagues to shut
up. His customary braggadocio giving way to bafflement:
Put him through.
Sure. Fine. See you then.
Eddie hangs up.
That was Donald Reynard.
Roger has heard of Reynard. With a trace of incredulity:
The Manhattan D.A.?
EXT. NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB
On Central Park South. Where Manhattan's oligarchs go to
stay hungry. Several generations of WASPs stride in and out,
attache cases in their left hands, racquets in their right.
EDDIE hurriedly enters this sanctum of health and wealth,
too self-conscious to notice the startled WASPs noticing
INT. CLUB BAR
With a Rare Book Room ambience. A MAITRE D' steers an edgy
Eddie past POWER BROKERS who stop brokering, briefly, to
gape at this bizarre interloper. Excepting one self-absorbed
MAGNATE who pontificates on the trade gap at FOUR REPORTERS.
Eddie is delivered to a table in the center of the room.
Settled here, sipping a scotch, is Manhattan D.A. DONALD
REYNARD: mid-40s, sharp-featured, soigne. At Reynard's elbow
sits Dean Rabin. Wearing a vindictive little grin.
Head bowed, Eddie awkwardly thrusts out a hand.
Edward T. Dowd.
He offers Eddie a seat. Indicates the human terrier at his
Of course you know Dean Rabin, one
of my Assistant D.A.s. Dean generally
handles nuisance cases like the...
what's the man's name?
Shu Kai Kim.
You won't remember this, but in '72
I was one of several prosecutors
assigned to the Black Panther-Police
We had a whole team, and you walked
into court by yourself and kicked
our collective butt.
So what've you been up to since then?
This and that.
My staff tells me it's been mostly
drug pushers... I said that can't be
the same Edward Dowd.
It's in the area of narcotics, Mr.
Reynard, that the government tramples
on the Fourth Amendment.
Let's not drag the Constitution into
Rabin can contain himself no longer.
Mr. Dowd, you used the testimony of
a paranoid schizophrenic to overturn
a murder conviction that had stood
unchallenged for eight years. Now we
don't intend to sit back and --
Reynard holds up a palm, silencing Rabin.
What you did was very cynical. I'm
annoyed with you, Ed.
Clearly a supreme understatement.
I'm sorry if I've ruined your day,
Mr. Reynard. But my client's had a
rough eight years behind bars and --
Your client is guilty. Don't dick
around with me.
Rabin glows. He's getting revenge, albeit vicariously.
Back in the Seventies I spent years
putting away gangsters in a Colombian
syndicate called "the Ochoa". These
guys are very dangerous, Ed. When I
hear that a small-time dope lawyer
is conniving to spring one of these
guys, I see red.
I'd have that checked, Mr. Reynard.
Reynard is not amused.
Now maybe you got this case reopened
because you see yourself as a thorn
in society's side, or you want to
walk into any restaurant in Chinatown
and get free dumplings...
Are you implying that my motives are
less than sincere?
Yes, but that's not the issue. What's
on your wish list, Ed? Pleading Kim
out to first degree man on both
homicides, with an agreed sentence
of 15 to life running concurrent?
Come on... What're you looking for
What am I looking for? You're the
one talking deal.
Friday's the drop-dead date on the
Please don't bullshit me, Mr. Reynard.
You've got witness problems, you've
got proof problems...
You're my only problem, Ed. What
does it take to make you go away?
Eddie doesn't have to ponder long.
8-1/3 on both counts to run
concurrent, and credit for time
Reynard pretends to do some calculations.
I see: He'd walk out next month.
We reconvict, your man's looking at
25 years on two counts, served
consecutively. So what I'd like to
ask, Ed, is: Are you joking?
I never joke about waiving a client's
Sixth Amendment right to trial.
You're pissing me off again, Ed.
You know you're very tense, Mr.
Reynard. Y'oughta take a week off,
fly the wife and kids to Oahu.
Eddie turns. As he lopes away --
Don't forget: after Friday, no deal.
ANGLE - A REPORTER
at the Trade Gap table sniffs a story.
Eddie waits for the elevator. And HEARS a confidential:
Excuse me... Len Davis.
Looks like you've wriggled up
Reynard's ass... What gives?
You're not a reporter...?
He reaches for his press card. The elevator arrives.
I can't talk to you.
Eddie boards. Slow enough that the Reporter has time to follow
him in. The door closes.
INT. LOBBY - ON THE ELEVATOR DOOR
as it opens; Eddie and the Reporter step out. The Reporter
madly scribbles notes as Eddie declaims.
...not saying there was a conspiracy.
Law enforcement is too disorganized
for that... No, I suspect sloth was
the culprit -- lassitude... My client
made a convenient patsy...
They stride past CAMERA, Eddie just warming up, as we:
INT. CAFFE REGGIO - NEXT NIGHT
At this hour, the espresso has given way to red wine. KITTY,
EDDIE, ROGER and assorted West Village characters have taken
over a table in the middle of the room.
"Edward C. Dowd, retained to defend
Mr. Kim, has disclosed that a witness
will corroborate Mr. Kim's alibi"?
Roger reads from the Daily News -- everyone at the table has
a copy. On an inner page is a file photo of Eddie under the
headline "Stunning Revelations in 'Wrong Man' Murder Case."
"Dowd also reports that his team of
"...are close to naming the man they
believe actually killed Jimmy Chin"?
Roger gives Eddie a thin smile.
Shoulda told the one about Shu being
the bastard child of Mother Theresa.
Saving it for the Sunday Times.
Eddie stands, stretches.
I'm heading home -- get some sleep...
EXT. MACDOUGAL STREET - NIGHT
As Eddie starts north, a STREET DEALER calls from the shadows:
Hey Eddie... Loose joints? Buy one,
get one free.
I get 'em all free.
ON SHERIDAN SQUARE
Eddie crosses Seventh Avenue. Pulls out his keys, to let
himself into his building. OS, hears:
A MAN stands, silhouetted, at the top of the subway stairs.
Spare a quarter?
reaches back into his pocket. And gets RAKED across the jaw
with a short length of PIPE.
is a muscular PUNK in a black sleeveless t-shirt. Two black
teardrops tattooed on his cheek. In a WHISPER:
Race traitor. Gook lover.
INT. SUBWAY STAIRS
The Punk flings a stunned Eddie halfway down the stairs, to
continue the beating out of plain sight. On the landing, the
men bob back and forth, drunken dance partners --
-- and then Eddie manages to grab the Punk's face, squeezing
it with his ebbing strength, SMUDGING the TEARDROPS.
puzzles, for an instant, at the smeared "tattoos".
senses something's awry. In his eyes, a flicker of panic.
Then the Punk's eyes go cold again as he smashes Eddie's
head against the tile. As Eddie collapses:
Enemy of the Aryan People.
Punctuated with a kick of his combat boots. Eddie curls up
to protect himself.
Commie. Faggot. Motherfucker. Jew.
-- Only half.
For this, Eddie gets another kick. Then the ultimatum, told
as a "Confucious say" joke:
Aryan Warriors say: If the Chink
goes to trial, you die.
Eddie groans, his eyes roll back. FADE to BLACK. While the
SCREEN stays BLACK, we HEAR:
DETECTIVE 1'S VOICE
In my humble opinion, Mr. Dowd, you
opened a Pandora's box of ugly shit.
INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT - LATER
EDDIE, in the Detective Bullpen -- ice pack pressed to his
bruised jaw -- leafs through a mugbook. ROGER, beside him,
addresses a DETECTIVE, across the desk.
Oh, Eddie deserved this. I guess
rape victims want to get laid at
But Eddie could care less. Indicating the mugbook:
These are all the known Aryan Warriors
in New York?
IN THE BOOK
Mugshots and descriptions, four to a page. Several subjects
sport the teardrop tattoos.
Every last delightful one.
Eddie stops paging. Squints.
CLOSE - A MUGSHOT
of the Punk. Sure enough, no teardrops on his face. His name:
Eddie's HANDS enter FRAME. His fingertips still smudged with
black ink, from Roeder's cheeks.
BACK TO SCENE
Eddie studies the photo, his fingertips. Abruptly shuts the
Y'don't mind, I'll look some more
tomorrow. Starting to see double.
EXT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS
As they emerge, Roger grips Eddie's upper arm, to steady
His name is Chuckie Roeder. But
something's very weird.
-- You found his mugshot?
They round the corner. In b.g. is the County Coroner's Office;
official AMBULANCES are double-parked in front.
The tears... they weren't real.
Roger gives Eddie a questioning look.
EXT. EXPRESSWAY - LATE NIGHT
As we TIGHTEN on Eddie's wheezing RIVIERA we HEAR, OVER:
I don't believe we're going to talk
to a bunch of Nazis. At night.
They only think they're Nazis.
INT. RIVIERA - MOVING
Roger drives. Eddie, in the passenger seat, massages his
swollen jaw. In his free hand are scribbled directions.
They're just frightened, fucked-up
losers that prison fucked up worse.
I didn't ask for a closing argument.
There's no one else to talk to. The
tattoos were phony!
So an upstanding member of the Aryan
Warriors wouldn't paint them on.
They take those teardrops seriously --
they're badges of courage, of honor.
Only their most vicious killer elite
get to wear them...!
I feel much better now.
Hey, Clyde Gruner sold these guys a
pound of crystal meth at cost. We're
Clyde's buddies, it's cool.
(checks the directions)
EXT. ROW HOUSES - LATE NIGHT
A desolate, sub-working-class-outpost on Staten Island.
Eddie KNOCKS on a door. Roger waits with trepidation. The
door is answered by:
Towheaded, in pajamas. No more than eight years old.
Hi there. Is your daddy home?
INT. ARYAN WARRIOR HOUSE
The little boy GIGGLES, then leads Eddie and Roger through a
nightmare LIVING ROOM strewn with pizza cartons, shotgun
shells and dogshit. A MAC-10 submachine gun is propped in a
corner. In another corner, an old b&w TV. Flickering across
the screen: a rerun of "Love, American Style." TWO ARYAN
WARRIORS were slumped in front of it, swigging generic beer
while ogling the '60s bikini queens. Now they sit up straight
and reach for the guns as the lawyers pass, into:
The little boy wraps his arms around a pair of legs. ANGLE
UP on a young man whose face is marred by a single teardrop
I'm a friend of Clyde Gruner's...
The walls are decorated with white power posters, portraits
of Hitler and Jesus.
We know who you are. You're the race
traitor who's defending the gook.
O.S. we hear:
You've got balls coming here.
Eddie and Roger turn. Behind them another Aryan Warrior has
materialized. Chewing a Slim Jim.
We respect balls.
Who's Chuckie Roeder?
Chuck? Rhymes with suck?
Chuckie Roeder is no longer a comrade
in the resurrection of our nation.
We expelled that faggot junkie last
Eddie and Roger trade glances.
Do you know where he can be found?
Hanging with his tongue out and a
sign around his neck says "I Betrayed
My Race" along with the rest of
society's scum, on the Great Day of
Um... prior to the Great Day of the
Rope, where can Chuckie be found?
Mixing with mongrel races.
-- A job? An address?
Teardrop doesn't answer. Hoping to help him out:
Art supplies, right?
Teardrop shoots a look at Slim Jim. If looks could kill,
Slim Jim's brains would be decorating the walls.
Teardrop turns back to Eddie and Roger.
Now get the fuck out of here.
Instead Eddie steps forward, in Teardrop's face.
A man jumped me tonight. He said he
was an Aryan Warrior, and you're
saying he wasn't. I have to hear it
really clear: You guys weren't behind
Very slowly, so Eddie gets it straight:
If we were, you wouldn't be standing
INT. RIVIERA - MOVING - EARLY MORNING
Route 9, North. An excited Roger drives, a little wildly, on
the empty road. Eddie stares out into the night.
EXT. OSSINING CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - DAYBREAK
ROGER is asleep, in the back seat of the Riviera. PAN TO:
At the main gate, that isn't open
yet. Eddie stands still, head bowed,
hands clasped behind his back. A
supplicant. Waiting to get in.
INT. VISITORS ROOM - MORNING - LATER
Eddie and Shu are separated by a plexiglass pane. They talk
over telephones. Shu strives to remain impassive as he HEARS:
Shu, the D.A.'s offered us a deal. I
can make a counter-offer I know he'd
accept. You'd be free in four years.
Who did that to you?
Eddie worries his discolored jaw.
An Aryan Warrior with black teardrops
painted on his face.
That wasn't an Aryan Warrior.
But why would a guy would do that?
Paint black teardrops on his face?
I guess he... wanted you to think he
was... somebody he wasn't.
Maybe... because someone's afraid.
Afraid of what?
I don't know. The truth, maybe.
-- About what?
About Chinatown. What went down.
What went down?
You tell me, man.
No. You tell me, Shu.
How can I tell you what I don't know!
You can't. So tell me what you do
know -- say it!
I don't know shit, man! Goddammit --
Well I know that you're innocent,
Shu -- even if you forgot.
Shu sucks in a breath. The curses are like stifled sobs.
Shit... fucking... bitch bastard...
Tears are spilling down Shu's rock-hard cheeks.
Eddie brings his palm up against the plexiglass divider.
He's breathing hard too.
Shu. We take this deal, that's the
end. I don't look for the scumbag
that jumped me, don't get him on the
stand to tell the court who put him
up to it, don't go after the fuck
who put him up to it -- the fuck who
did the crime and let you do the
time... We take this deal, we walk
away without knowing what really
went down, never get a shot at nailing
some guilty bastard's balls to the
Shu swipes at his face, roughly wiping it dry.
Now Shu raises his palm. Presses it against the plexiglass,
where Eddie's palm is. Slowly, emphatically:
Fuck the D.A.'s deal.
EXT. CHINATOWN STREET - DUSK - VARIOUS SHOTS
Hungry tourists, hyper street vendors, harried locals...
Roasting chicken carcasses, counterfeit merchandise
aggressively hawked, tiny old ladies bent over bins, squeezing
strange fruits... The air a shivaree of piped-in flutes and
drums, dissonant mercantile chatter, clogged honking
On Pell Street we FIND Eddie striding down the sidewalk,
nose in trial transcript. To himself:
Jimmy came east on Pell. He stopped
on the corner to a let a car go by.
At the last instant he must've sensed
something. He turned --
Eddie looks up from the text, turns his head. There's:
About twenty feet away. He looks up from his transcript.
Laura Gordon stood here. No bus stop,
phone booth, stop sign in the way...
She had a perfect view of the killer's
Eddie adamantly shakes his head as he moves to Roger.
But she couldn't have, could she,
because she thinks she saw Shu and
now we know she didn't see Shu...
Roger looks dubious. Eddie grabs his shoulders, marching him
east on Pell, the way Jimmy Chin came...
You're cruising along without a care
but now I'm stalking you, I'm right
behind you, there's rage in the air.
You feel the rage, like an electrical
charge -- you turn --
He yanks Roger's head around.
I pull out a loaded gun --
Eddie shapes the fingers of his right hand like a gun.
-- Time contracts, space explodes,
perceptions can't be trusted when I --
Eddie violently whips his finger-gun into Roger's face. Roger
flinches -- we HEAR a shattering GUNSHOT -- and we're in:
INT. FORENSIC BALLISTICS LAB - A FEW DAYS LATER
A forensic ballistics expert (GEORGE) has just test-fired
Shu's gun into a long wooden box. He and Roger remove their
ear-protectors. (Eddie hadn't bothered wearing one.) To Roger,
as he opens the box's lid:
Some guys in the field, they'll try
to bullshit you that comparison
microscopy's an exact science.
I'm saying, we need to finesse a
little, we'll finesse.
Eddie adamantly shakes his head.
George -- I told ya -- ! We don't
need to finesse this one!
Jesus! Jump back...
He recovers the bullet with a pair of sterile forceps.
You wanna hang out, Eddie, I'll have
something preliminary in an hour.
My associate'll wait, George. I've
got good news of my own to deliver.
EXT. CRIMINAL COURTS BUILDING - DAY - LATER
The D.A.'s office is on the south side of the building.
Is Mr. Reynard expecting you?
INT. REYNARD'S RECEPTION AREA
Reynard's Receptionist is politely but terminally skeptical.
This'll only take a minute.
I'm sorry but Mr. Reynard is running
about an hour behind schedule.
Then just leave word: Mr. Dowd and
Mr. Kim plan to proceed with trial.
Grand, marbled. Eddie's footfalls ECHO as he lopes to the
stairs. And now he hears a deep, sepulchral:
ANGLE - ROBERT REYNARD stands at the far end of the corridor,
shirt-sleeves rolled up, arms akimbo.
Did my girl hear your message
Eddie ambles toward Reynard.
I guess so, or you wouldn't be
standing there, am I right?
The D.A. shakes his head, disappointed in himself.
Why did I think I could deal
reasonably with a man who defends
coke pushers for free?
The lawyers face off, salvos reverberating.
Coke pushers pay cash. That subsidizes
the pot possession cases.
D.A.s slip past, careful to stay out of the line of fire.
But now you've strayed from your
area of expertise -- dope -- into
street assassins. A subject on which
you're dangerously ignorant.
But I'm a quick study. Tell your
Deputy D.A. -- Rabin? -- that I'll
see him in court.
No, Mr. Dowd, you'll see me in court.
I'm prosecuting this case.
Eddie takes a beat to absorb the news. Then:
Why am I surprised? It's consistent.
Reynard nods in solemn accord.
You seem to have a talent for putting
non-whites behind bars...
A frost settles on the District Attorney's face.
I'll prosecute anyone who fucks up.
If that makes me look racist, it's a
trade-off I'll live with, Ed.
That's big of you, Bob.
He gives Reynard a farewell-for-now salute.
I'll see vou in court.
He does a little pirouette. Reynard's words, swelling out,
follow him as he dances down the hall.
I'll beat you, Ed. You can hide behind
the whole Bill of Rights...
Eddie hurriedly descends the stairs.
EXT. WEST VILLAGE - THAT NIGHT
As we PAN the quaint townhouses and tenements we HEAR, OVER:
You guys shoulda been there.
FIND a WINDOW in which THREE SILHOUETTES are seen. In the
context of the cityscape, there's a poignant -- even fearful --
sense of their smallness and isolation.
The fuckin' D.A. himself.
INT. OUTER OFFICE
Eddie paces, gesticulates.
Dude was quaking.
Finally Roger feels compelled to deliver bad news.
Uh, Eddie? The, um, ballistics guy,
George...? He called, and...
His tests show that Shu's gun fired
the bullet that killed Jimmy Chin.
George is a fucking burnout case. I
didn't want him on the stand anyway.
Get more names from Billy.
Eddie turns to Kitty.
Did you find me an expert witness on
the Joe Boys?
Kitty is nearly as reluctant as Roger.
The best expert in New York is a Soc
professor at Columbia...
Apparently doing a hit was the way
to get into the Joe Boys.
Eddie levels a "So what are you telling me?" look at Kitty.
So there goes your theory about the
Joes giving up Shu to protect their
But I like that theory. And since
I'm not putting Twerp Professor on
the stand, and since I don't have a
better theory, I'm sticking with
that theory. Meantime I want pictures
of the Joes. What'll you bet there
was a guy in the gang looked enough
like Shu to fool the eyewitnesses!
Kitty and Roger halfheartedly nod. Eddie tries a pep-talk.
Our guy is innocent. We prod in enough
places, I don't care how solid this
case against Shu looks -- there's a
weak spot somewhere and when we hit
it the whole hideous thing collapses.
Better yet, we get our hands on
Chuckie Roeder, we don't have to
grope in the dark. Chuckie is the
Kitty snakes her head.
I've phoned every art supply retailer
and wholesaler in the Tri-state area.
No one's heard of Chuckie Roeder.
Have you considered that Chuckie
Roeder's not calling himself Chuckie
Roeder these days? Get his mugshot
from one of the many law officers
who've got hotpants for you... then
canvass those art supplies places.
We're gonna win this one, Kitty, but
ya gotta believe...
Uneasy with Eddie's optimism, he stands, wanders back toward
the bathroom. Then notices that the door leading to Eddie's
living quarters is slightly a jar.
THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR
Roger sees a single bed in one corner, plain wooden bureau
opposite. But on the walls, something strange and beckoning.
As Eddie exhorts in b.g., Roger slips into:
INT. EDDIE'S BEDROOM
Hung on a hundred hooks and nails are as many TIES. The wide,
thrift-shop kind that Eddie wears to court. From a distance
we can't distinguish the prints; the room is lit only by a
blinking neon across the street. As Roger sifts through the
ties, we go in CLOSE on the big amoebas, the zaftig mermaids,
the oddball, dated patterns and paintings. It's as though
each tie stands for a case won or lost, but fought. As though
each loud, shameless tie is a piece of Eddie himself.
Now, as he pulls the ties from their hooks to examine them,
Roger exposes old PHOTOS tacked to the wall and forgotten.
are mostly yellow, cracked, faded. Here is EDDIE twenty-five
years ago, hair cropped, a Princeton undergrad. Five years
later he's sprouted a beard and is posed with his graduating
class at Yale Law School.
Now it's the glory days of the mid-sixties and Eddie's in
his prime, a longhaired defense attorney in denim and
leather... At a press conference, flanked by Abbie Hoffman
and Jerry Rubin. In Washington Square Park, igniting an anti-
At a Sheep Meadow Be-in, arm around a lovely young woman,
toddler balanced on his shoulders, infant cradled in her
lap. Eddie's family on a long-ago spring day.
And here is Eddie, about 30, in a swarm of student activists
outside a Federal courthouse, clearly after winning an
acquittal, held high above the crowd like a conquering hero.
Now we BRING UP an excited BUZZ of VOICES -- as though the
crowd, in the photo, were somehow coming to life. OVER:
Matter of People vs. Shu Kai Kim.
INT. SUPERIOR COURT - MORNING
We've hit the big time; it's clean, spacious, echoic. The
previous courtrooms were, by comparison, mere vestibules.
JUDGE QUEALY BANGS his GAVEL.
This case has been tried before, but
you the jurors must make no...
Now the Judge notices something amiss. He squints --
AT THE DEFENSE TABLE
There's SHU. With his new bristly growth of head-hair and
oversized suit, he appears thin and mild-mannered, almost
bookish. At Shu's left sits ROGER, looking around, bemused.
The chair at Shu's right is empty.
-- Where is Mr. Dowd?
INT. MEN'S ROOM
Eddie is alone in here, at the sink. He's just doused his
face. He examines his reflection in the dirty mirror, trying
hard to like what he sees. HOLD for several silent BEATS as
Eddie gathers his strength and courage. Then:
You will hear from the detectives
who arrested Shu Kai Kim and found
the murder weapon in his apartment.
INT. COURTROOM - A FEW MINUTES LATER
Eddie has now taken his seat beside Shu. Reynard is in the
midst of his opening statement.
An eyewitness will testify that she
saw Mr. Kim shoot Jimmy Chin in cold
blood. An expert who examined Kim's
gun, and the bullet that tore through
Jimmy Chin's brain, will testify
that Shu Kai Kim was the killer.
He strides over to the jury box.
But this trial is about much more
than Mr. Kim's guilt. It's a test of
our legal system -- the fairest,
most liberal in the world, in world
history... So fair and liberal that
lawyers like Mr. Dowd can manipulate
it on a whim to re-try convicted
killers. Well that's a trade-off we
can live with, provided we have the
courage to meet our civic obligations.
You twelve are all that stand between
society and every Shu Kai Kim itching
to get free. Quite a responsibility.
But one I know that each of you can
EDDIE paces off a large circle -- a territorial act in which
he is claiming the courtroom as his.
Picture this. In a part of town that
thrives on its spirit of
celebration... good food, friendly
faces... one young man walked up to
another, out on the street, in front
of the tourists, and committed murder.
As Eddie pivots, we see that his hair is pulled back with a
bright blue ribbon. The Jurors see this, too. If he didn't
have it before, Eddie's now got their full attention.
I wonder if Chinatown's shopkeepers
and restaurant owners pleaded with
the Mayor... I wonder if the Mayor
put pressure on the Police
Eddie jigs over to the jury box.
What do you think the Mayor said to
the Police Commissioner? I think the
Mayor said, "Arrest somebody...
He's trailed off; the last word is whispered. As he opens
his mouth again --
-- TWELVE JURORS crane forward to hear.
An older woman GASPS. The others merely flinch.
The homicide detectives lead off. First up is MONTELL. Early
40s, beefy, black, with a tough-but-fair persona.
Reynard concluding his direct.
And so, having brought Mr. Kim in
for booking, you arranged a line-up
with six other Asian males.
And the results of the line-up?
All the eyewitnesses picked Kim.
Eddie smiles broadly at Montell, who smiles back. Then:
Isn't it a fact that the "six other
Asian men" in the line-up were all
of the classic Mongoloid type, whereas
Shu has the distinct facial bone
structure of a Korean?
Objection. The witness is not an
expert in racial classification.
Isn't it a standard trick to pack a
line-up with men who resemble each
other but look different than the
suspect, so the suspect will stand
out for the eyewitnesses?
Eddie takes a beat, flashes another smile. Montell
reciprocates. Now Eddie shifts into his empathetic mode.
You had to use less than scrupulous
methods, true? The Mayor was pushing
you hard for an arrest, wasn't he?
Montell sadly shakes his head. As empathetic as Eddie:
I don't want to disappoint you. But
the Mayor and I have never spoken.
A few TITTERS in the GALLERY.
I was being metaphorical, Detective
Is that a fancy way of being wrong?
The half-dozen REPORTERS can barely suppress their snickers.
INT. COURTROOM - NEXT DAY
Next up is SKLAROFF, a coiled, rangy cop in his late 30s.
Exactly what information led you to
arrest my client just two-and-a-half
hours after the shooting took place?
We had a description of the suspect.
A "description"? What, Asian male 18
to 30, black hair, brown eyes?
From the prosecution table --
We had intelligence.
You had intelligence...?
Phrased to sound as likely as peace in Beirut. Sklaroff
struggles to contain his resentment. Carefully:
We had information bearing on Mr.
Kim's desire to gain admission into
the Joe Boys by assassinating a member
of a rival gang.
Didn't this "information" come from
the Joe Boys themselves -- did they
not all but hand you Shu Kai Kim, a
Korean, an outsider?
Objection! Your Honor, this isn't
cross-examination, it's Mr. Dowd's
opening argument again -- and again,
it's pure fabrication.
Eddie essays another line of attack.
Isn't it unusual for a man who's
just committed a murder in plain
sight to bring the weapon back to
Calls for speculation.
But Sklaroff has weathered enough abuse. Indignantly:
You're implying that I planted a
Not at all --
Kim's prints were all over it -- He
admitted it was his gun, f'r godsake!
Your Honor, the witness' response
was non-responsive... I ask you to
strike it from the record...!
As Judge Quealy does just that, OS, Eddie backs away from
the excitable detective.
No more questions.
As he drifts back to the defense table, Reynard stands.
The People call retired Detective
Eddie sits. Wearing a confident grin for the benefit of any
jurors who may be watching. Only Roger and Shu can HEAR:
...I'm dying out there.
It's okay, Eddie.
The Bailiff escorts the last homicide detective into court.
You've got another shot.
ANGLE - DETECTIVE BADALATO
enters. In a wheelchair, pushed by his sister CONNIE. He's
overweight and droopy-eyed, probably on pain pills. She's
got the gait, physique and complexion of a spinster alcoholic.
ANGLE - THE DEFENSE TABLE
(sotto, to Roger)
A fucking wheelchair?
A spinal injury, in the line of duty.
It was in Kitty's report...
Reynard concluding his direct. Mellifluous and caring, a
pediatrician to a kid with mumps.
And you left the murder scene...?
Badalato clutches his original report. His eyes rake the
page, find the relevant section. He adjusts his glasses. His
voice is a whisper thickened by painkillers.
At, un, ten-thirty, sir.
And then what did you do, Officer?
As Badalato replies we FLASH BACK TO:
EXT. CHINATOWN STREET - NIGHT, NOVEMBER 2, 1980
The scene has been secured, photos and statements taken.
Police tape holds back GAWKERS. Jimmy Chin's shrouded BODY
is loaded, on a stretcher, into the rear of the paddywagon.
FIND BADALATO -- young, fit -- at the driver's side door of
the paddywagon, discreetly conferring with the DRIVER. Now
the DRIVER steps out, and Badalato climbs in, in his place.
As he pulls the paddywagon away we HEAR, OVER:
I proceeded with Decedent's body to
the office of the County Coroner.
Thank you. No further questions.
INT. COURTROOM - EDDIE
questions the disabled detective, careful to be cordial.
Detective Badalato. You reached the
County Coroner's and signed over the
Badalato finds the relevant section of the report. Focuses.
Fusses with the pages. Starts to answer -- then succumbs to
a terrible coughing fit. COMPASSIONATE MURMURS from the JURY.
The Bailiff hurries over, gently pats Badalato's back, pours
him a cup of water. Badalato downs it with effort. Then:
Eddie opens his mouth, to continue his cross. But now his
eyes dart to the jury box, and what comes out is:
No more questions, your Honor.
INT. COURTHOUSE - AFTERNOON
Eddie hurries past Reynard, in the rotunda, surrounded by
REPORTERS. Looking well pleased with himself, the D.A. is
engaged in a spontaneous, genial Q & A.
Roger and Kitty catch up with Eddie, making for the exit.
A fucking wheelchair?
I didn't put him in a wheelchair.
Reynard did. He can get around without
one -- it's all in my report.
I don't have time to read every word
in every report, I'm too busy getting
killed in court... Meantime my
crackerjack investigator can't find
the goddam art supplies store where
EXT. 100 CENTRE STREET - AFTERNOON
As the trio descends the steps:
I'd love to chat but I'm meeting a
cop for drinks. He'll be bringing
the Joe Boys' mugbook, circa 1980.
Eddie tries not to look overly impressed.
And I need an expert on the Joes I
can put on the goddam stand!
Kitty pulls a BAG from her pocketbook.
Eddie? Stick this up your ass.
She hops into an idling CAB.
Eddie pulls a length of PIPE from the bag. He and Roger trade
baffled looks. Then Roger notices the PRINTING on the BAG.
CLOSE - BAG
As Roger reads.
Suppressing a smile, Eddie reads the rest.
"Everything For The Plumber".
ESTABLISHING - LONG ISLAND CITY - EARLY EVENING
Light manufacturing and loft-dwelling refugees from SoHo,
separated from Manhattan by the East River. TIGHTEN ON:
as Eddie and Roger enter the warehouse.
Roger notes the PLAQUES that line the walls, from the Chamber
of Commerce, Urban League, etc., naming Arturo Esparza "Equal
Opportunity Employer of the Year". At the front desks are
three tough-looking SECRETARIES.
Is "Art" around?
SECRETARY 1 squints at this bizarre interloper.
He expecting you-all?
No, but this won't take long.
A coffee-colored YOUNG WOMAN gets up from her desk in the
far corner. She hurries over to rescue the Receptionist.
I'm Mariquilla Esparza -- Art's wife.
Eddie is abashed at her fine, radiant features. Roger tries
not to stare.
"Mariquilla"? It's a lovely name.
Marquilla turns her face, to hide her blush.
Thank you, Mister...
And then a compact, powerful-looking LATINO (bald, bearded,
bespectacled) charges INTO FRAME.
Art Esparza. How can I help you?
He nods at Mariquilla -- she makes herself scarce.
They wander past Esparza, and into:
A multi-tiered space crowded with sinks, toilets, tubs...
Black, white and brown MEN load skids, ride forklifts.
You can't come back here... Anything
happens to you I'm liable.
I'm a lawyer. The firm is thinking
about renovating. Everything dates
back to the Sixties.
Do you see a toilet here you think
is really me?
Roger joins in the snowing of Esparza.
We're considering one of those high
tech designs, what do you call it, a
Excuse me but we're not a store and
we're not a showroom...
Eddie has slipped away. Hoping to distract Esparza:
Didn't I read it's healthier? To sit
lower on a toilet? Y'know, with your
knees up, and --
Esparza is suddenly -- angrily -- aware he's been had.
-- Where's your friend?
Striding down a long AISLE bounded by tall walls of piping.
He ducks around a SKID stacked with industrial sinks... Runs
into a waist-high CONVEYOR BELT loaded with large cartons.
Starts to back away -- then sees, below the conveyor belt --
PAIR OF BOOTS
The combat boots that he last saw aimed at his eye.
Freezes, for a beat -- then takes off down the length of the
conveyor belt... But the belt goes on and on, and so Eddie
drops down and scuttles under it. As he gets to the other
side and leaps up, he sees --
Who sees Eddie, lets out a startled cry and drops the carton
he was checking, then spins on his heels and sprints away...
gives chase, slipping on the contents of the spilled carton...
scores of loose spigots... Then he finds his footing, and
races after Roeder down another:
AISLE OF PIPES
This one about thirty yards long. Now from the other end,
moving quite fast, comes a FORKLIFT. Roeder dives out of its
way, climbing up the wall of pipes.
Eddie clambers after him as the forklift DRIVER frantically
downshifts -- and the point of a prong catches Eddie's
pantleg, tearing it, as --
scurries over the now-collapsing wall of pipe, onto a double
skid of horizontally stacked HOT WATER HEATERS...
Eddie stumbles after him... Both men struggling to stay
balanced... Now, just as Eddie is about to seize him, Roeder
reaches a steep ladder -- he breathlessly climbs up to:
Eddie claws his way up the ladder, right behind... He takes
a flying leap at Roeder, grabbing hold of his belt...
But the catwalk sways, sickeningly, and Roeder kicks free,
nearly sending Eddie over the side. Now Roeder bolts to the
far end of the catwalk, fairly flying down the ladder there...
Meantime, Eddie takes a breath and drops off the catwalk...
twenty feet down, and just an arm's length from Roeder. But
as he thrusts out his hand, a HUGE MAN intercedes, hurling
Eddie to the concrete.
dashes across a sea of TUBS, his boots CRACKING several...
Then OUT a BACK DOOR, disappearing into the night.
Eddie -- winded and disoriented -- is yanked to his feet by
a flushed Art Esparza.
Muscular EMPLOYEES, brandishing pipe-wrenches, etc., have
formed a menacing ring around Eddie.
Everything's cool! Back off... take
He starts briskly walking Eddie back to the front office.
Look, I'm a lawyer and --
-- I don't care who you are. You
could've been killed. Every man and
woman in here has done hard prison
time. And we look out for each other.
I did five years in Attica. Lot of
cons helped me in the joint. But I
never got help from any lawyer... I
built this business for guys like me
who couldn't get a break anywhere
else. "Art's Supplies" is for ex-
cons. Not lawyers.
THE FRONT OFFICE
Roger is waiting here.
Chuckie Roeder's a material witness
in a murder case, Mr. Esparza.
Esparza is pained to hear it.
Chuckie... Never learn...
Then remembers he's with civilians. Collects himself.
"Art's Supplies" is founded on trust,
Dowd. Eddie Dowd.
If you'd had the sense to ask for my
help, I might've helped you. But
you've probably scared Chuckie Roeder
off for good, I have a whole bunch
of jumpy employees to handle and
you're both going to be on your way.
As Eddie and Roger cross to the Riviera:
Goddam it... the little punk bests
me again, I get thrown down and
lectured at and where the hell were
1530 Rivington Street.
Chuckie's address. I sneaked a peek
at the Rolodex.
You sneaked a peek at the Rolodex.
EXT. RIVINGTON STREET - EARLY EVENING
Eddie parks at a hydrant, the lawyers hop out. Eddie goes to
the trunk, forces it open, finds what he was looking for.
Tucks the tire iron into his pants.
Roger was already checking the addresses on this stretch of
lower East Side transient hotels and pawn shops.
...Eddie? 1530 Rivington...
ANGLE - 1530 RIVINGTON
A hole in the ground, surrounded by a fence that's decorated
with a fanciful sketch of a luxury condominium that'll never
be built and some pretty words about urban renewal signed by
His Honor Edward I. Koch.
on the corner pay phone.
Kitty, when they demolish a
residential hotel, the city has to
relocate the tenants! Housing
Authority'll have records of --
You taught me that? So why'm I wasting
INT. LIVING ROOM - EVENING
Pleasant, middle-class decor. We haven't been here before.
We HEAR a persistent KNOCKING.
KITTY crosses to the door, squints through the peephole and
sighs. Then opens the door. ENTER:
-- Find him?
Eddie, these things take time.
Particularly at this hour...
Eddie's all over the room, edgily picking up odds and ends.
My guy at Housing's waiting at home
for a pass to get back in his office.
Meantime Eddie has found a BINDER on Kitty's coffee table.
The Joe Boys in 1980...!
A number of them are dead, three are
in prison, one's a waiter... Two --
you'll enjoy this -- two are actually
members of the Chamber of Commerce.
ON THE MUGBOOK
Like the one the cops showed Eddie. But instead of sneering
tattooed whites, here are sneering tattooed Asians.
Eddie looks up from the book.
Doesn't do me much good unless I
know what Shu looked like back th--
Kitty hands him a photocopy of Shu's 1980 mugshot.
An ornery-looking Shu Kai Kim wearing a greasy shag haircut.
A far cry from Mrs. Kim's "Small, Small World" photo.
Boy, I was right about the distinctive
facial bone structure of a Korean. I
thought I was bullshitting.
He's all over the room, waving Shu's photo, fulminating:
The odd man out always takes the
fall! Haven't I been saying all along
Suddenly aware that Kitty's watching him play Edward C. Dowd,
Legendary Hell-For-Leather-Lawyer, he falters, embarrassed.
But Kitty's expression is affectionate, approving -- this is
just the spirit that drew her to Eddie years ago.
Sensing this, Eddie relaxes. His voice softens.
I haven't thanked you for your work,
Kitty. You're doing good work.
I'm a professional, Eddie. Getting
paid is all the thanks I require.
I haven't paid you.
A beat passes between them that's both intimate and awkward.
Got any booze in the house?
You don't drink "booze".
Eddie, if I wanted to make love with
you again, I'd do it sober.
Eddie gently places his big hands on Kitty's slim shoulders.
Eddie this is silly... are we supposed
to pretend nothing's happened in the
last ten years and --
Nothing has. But that's all changing.
Touched by Eddie's optimism, Kitty kisses him. It's meant to
be quick and light but he embraces her and the kiss continues.
BLACK. A phone RINGS. It's answered. Groggily:
EXT. DELANCEY STREET - LATE NIGHT
Kitty repeats Roeder's current address, in VO.
As Eddie's Riviera pulls up to a Bowery flophouse. He goes
to his trunk, for that tire iron.
The ancient NIGHT CLERK is asleep, his head resting on the
Front Desk. Gimlet-eyed, Eddie peers at the NAMES taped to
the mailboxes behind him.
Musty, narrow, dimly lit. Muffled, debauched LAUGHTER...
Eddie squints at one door, then another, then: Room 2D.
He takes a breath, pulls out the tire iron, KNOCKS with it.
No answer. Eddie tries the door. It's unlocked.
CHUCKIE ROEDER sits quietly at a plain wooden desk in the
darkened, unadorned room. Scattered across the floor are
well-thumbed copies of Guns & Ammo and Blueboy.
CLOSER - ROEDER
Waxy and still -- like a Duane Hanson sculpture. Right hand
suspended over the left forearm.
sharply inhales as he ventures closer.
A SYRINGE in Roeder's right hand, needle jammed in a vein.
The left arm is dotted with track marks.
Eddie slowly backs away from the upright corpse. Gripped not
by horror, but the strangest sort of pity.
INT. MORGUE - MORNING
Chuckie Roeder is laid out in a locker drawer. On one side
stands a MORGUE TECH; on the other, Detective 1 (from the
police headquarters scene).
Roger is off in a corner, giving a statement to Detective 2.
Eddie stands nearby, moodily contemplating the demise of his
last, best hope. OS, he HEARS:
-- I guess you found him.
ART ESPARZA has entered. His face is flushed with emotion.
He had no family. I have to I.D.
him. I'm his family.
Eddie nods, not sure what to say. Esparza grimly regards
Roeder's corpse, then nods at Detective 1. A tear slides
down his cheek as the MORGUE TECH slams shut the drawer.
Esparza turns to Eddie. His voice thick:
You won't be able to use him now,
Roger wraps an arm around Eddie's shoulder.
C'mon, Eddie, let's go.
-- That's goddam tragic, isn't it?
He starts for Eddie, who doesn't speak or even move to defend
himself. Detective 1 grabs Esparza in time, holds him back.
C'mon, get outta here, Dowd.
EXT. MORGUE - MORNING
Eddie and Roger exit with Detective 2. They're in the City
Hall district, not far from the Criminal Courts Building.
As the Detective crosses, returning to Police Headquarters,
You're in over your head, Dowd...
Don't you defend pot smokers?
Eddie ignores. He and Roger keep walking, the other way.
So what're we gonna do?
...What do you mean?
Well, I mean, Roeder's gone, now...
A dead end. Believe me, I'm sorry
(breaks the news)
I've heard from the last ballistics
expert on the list. It's an even ten
who say Shu's gun killed Jimmy Chin!
That's why I hate experts.
Eddie... it's one thing to compare
Clyde Gruner to Jesus Christ. It's
even okay to claim that Shu Kai Kim
is just slightly holier than the
Pope... as long as you don't really
Hey -- you believe what you want.
Shu Kai Kim is innocent.
You know how I know? 'Cause Reynard
says he's guilty, and Reynard's full
of shit! Look --
Intoxicated by his illogic, Eddie yanks out his battered
wallet. Tugs out one of his two photos of Shu -- the "Small,
Small World" snapshot from Mrs. Kim.
It's not the face of a killer!
He hands it to Roger, who hands it right back.
You're carrying that around like it
was a picture of your girlfriend!
I don't want to see your heart broken
when this case crashes and burns!
That's not gonna happen. I'm gonna
create reasonable doubt. Buckle your
seatbelt and watch me work.
Eddie steps into the street, into traffic. Cars wildly swerve
around him, drivers HONKING in outrage. Roger looks both
ways, dashes out. Catching up:
But Roeder's dead. Ballistics says
it's Shu! We don't have one witness --
unless we put Cecil Stipe on the
I'm not that desperate.
I am. Eddie -- we've got nothing.
I've got a meeting in Chinatown.
Let's get a cab.
-- Roger -- ?
Indicating with a gesture that they're only blocks from
Chinatown. Puzzled, Roger peers back the way they came.
That's weird -- I pictured the morgue
being way across town.
After two beats he turns around to find Eddie gone.
INT. CHINESE RESTAURANT - LATE MORNING
Empty but for a banquet table Eddie shares with SIX PILLARS
(ranging in age from 30 to 80) of the Asian community. The
table is laden with delectable dim sum dishes. Eddie is the
only one not eating -- he's too busy sucking up to his hosts.
We need you in court. The jury'll be
swayed by your support. You men are
the backbone -- the conscience -- of
The Pillars are unmoved. Eddie lightens up.
Only people who've sat on my side of
the courtroom so far are a wino trying
to stay warm and a bail bondsman I
owe money to.
C'mon, guys -- the dignity of your
race is being threatened here!
Finally he gets a reaction.
If the dignity of our race is
threatened, it is threatened by your
reopening of this ugly case.
When a violent thug is taken off the
street, our quality of life -- and
commerce -- immeasurably improves.
The other Pillars nod. Eddie's gorge rises as they resume
eating, sipping tea, quietly conversing in Cantonese.
"A violent thug"? I happen to know
that two of you were once Joe Boys.
This gets the table's full attention.
But I'm not here to point the finger.
I did dumb things when I was 19 too --
we all did. Wrong time, wrong place,
everybody here could've made a perfect
fall guy instead of our lives turning
out how they did. This case is about
all of us. And you're gonna feel
like a bunch of goats when the truth
Clearly, one wouldn't try to bully such a venerable bunch
unless one were desperate, unhinged, or a bit of both.
You'll kick yourselves for standing
on the sidelines while the D.A. made
you out to be fungible!
Now PILLAR 1 whispers to PILLAR 2, who whispers to PILLAR 3.
Excuse me. But what is "fungible"?
Interchangeable. As in, "Hey, maybe
we got the wrong guy but what the
hell, one slanty-eyed sonovobitch is
the same as the next"!
Enjoy your dumplings, gentlemen.
He lopes out of the restaurant.
INT. COURTROOM - A FEW DAYS LATER
Reynard concludes his direct examination of the Police Gang
Expert, a florid, 50ish Irish Detective.
So according to your information,
Detective, the Joe Boys normally
used aspiring members -- like Shu
Kai Kim -- to do the "hits"?
That's how you got into the gang.
Thank you. Your witness, Mr. Dowd.
In the GALLERY, on Eddie's side of the room, sit the SIX
PILLARS. Some have brought their equally dignified WIVES.
And several sweet-looking CHILDREN.
EDDIE rises INTO FRAME as he stands at the defense table,
newly energized. he straightens his mermaid tie and assumes
a look of collosal incredulity.
You're the police expert in Chinatown
...For ten years, now.
Do you speak Cantonese, Mandarin, or
-- Me? Neither.
Eddie cups his ear.
Pardon... Which dialect do you speak?
Eddie turns to the gallery.
The hoped-for HUBBUB among the Pillars et al. SHU cranes to
see, heartened and slightly amazed at the support.
Turning back to the government witness:
You don't speak any Chinese dialects?
Then you get your intelligence from
(between gritted teeth)
They're Chinamen who speak English.
We call them informants.
And I call your testimony hearsay. I
have no more questions for you.
On the wall opposite the jury hang TWO POSTERS. Apparently
identical photos of a spent BULLET, deformed by impact. In
front of them, wielding a pointer, stands Reynard's venerable
Bearing in mind that every gun barrel
leaves a distinctive mark on the
bullet it fires, we must conclude
that the bullet that killed Jimmy
Chin was fired from Mr. Kim's .38.
And the powder burns at the site of
the victim's entrance wound...?
...Can also be linked to the bullet.
Thank you. Your witness.
as he jigs over to the wall and grabs the pointer.
The photo on the left shows the bullet
that killed Jimmy Chin, true?
And the one on the right is the bullet
you test-fired from Shu's gun?
Eddie contemplates these apparently identical photos. And
manages to sound a note of outraged disbelief.
You would have the court believe
that these two bullets were fired
from the same gun?
Eddie presses the tip of the pointer to a thin smudge along
the lower edge of the right bullet.
I see a groove here. I don't see a
Pointing, now, to the lower edge of the left bullet.
It's not a significant difference.
Eddie's pointer finds another mark on the rear of the right
bullet. Or maybe it's the shadow cast by the pointer.
And what about this? I don't see
this on the other bullet.
He points to something else on one of the enlargements --
but so quickly, we're not even sure what he was pointing at.
Or this -- is this a significant
No it is not, Mr. Dowd.
As though baffled by the Expert's criteria, Eddie sets down
To the best of your recollection,
were you sober when you performed
A GIGGLE from the Jury Box.
Forensic ballistics isn't an exact
science, is it?
It most certainly is.
Isn't there a ten to fifteen-percent
margin of error?
Absolutely not. No more than seven
In other words, seven times out of a
hundred, you're wrong!
The EXPERT stews.
The PILLARS nod.
INT. COURTROOM - NEXT DAY
On the stand: LAURA GORDON, the young white eyewitness.
Would you tell the court exactly
what you remember seeing on that
I'll never forget it. I was walking
east on Pell Street...
As she continues, we FLASH BACK TO:
EXT. PELL STREET - EVENING, NOVEMBER 2, 1980
MS. GORDON (V.O.)
A man walked past me. I noticed him
for two reasons.
The KILLER hurries by. ONSCREEN for only a second -- but
long enough for us to see he looks a lot like Shu.
MS. GORDON (V.O.)
He was walking very fast and his
hand was shoved inside his jacket. I
was in front of a restaurant called
Andy Lee's... Something told me to
We watch the Killer's back as he races to an intersection
where several PEDESTRIANS wait for the Walk signal. We glimpse
his face again as he pulls a gun... The YOUNG MAN in front
of him whirls, there's a sharp CRACK and then the YOUNG MAN
is lying in the street, blood welling around his head.
The Killer takes off running.
BACK TO COURTROOM
And the man whom you saw murder Jimmy
Chin. Is he in this courtroom?
Ms. Gordon nods at Shu.
That's him sitting right there.
EDDIE stands before the witness box.
Ms. Gordon. I have studied the
diagrams and the photographs and I
have visited the murder scene and
the conclusion I keep reaching is...
and I hate to have to say this...
You weren't even close enough to see
the killer's gun.
Ms. Gordon is shocked by the rawness of Eddie's accusation.
Does Mr. Dowd have a question?
His eyes boring into Ms. Gordon's:
Come now. Did you see the gun?
I can describe it.
It was silver, with a stubby barrel...
snub-nosed, I think they call it...
It wasn't automatic, it had one of
You can't remember that -- !
I can see the hammer still, it was
(as though pained)
How can you remember that?
I didn't take my eyes off it!
Eddie is facing the JURY -- only they can see the smile that's
sprouted on his face.
Thank you, Ms. Gordon.
A HUSH in the COURTROOM. And now Ms. Gordon realizes she's
been tricked. As Eddie returns to the defense table:
Not the whole time, of course. I --
No further questions.
SHU turns to Eddie. The look on his face says "Hell, we're
actually holding our own."
As the frustrated eyewitness is led off the stand we HEAR a
calm, resonant --
Your Honor... The People wish to
call a witness whose name does not
appear on the witness list. He --
Eddie's smile evaporates. He leaps up.
Your Honor, that's trial by ambush!
We just discovered him, your Honor!
His appearance is critical to a fair
presentation of our case! He is an
inmate at Ossining Correctional and --
-- Objection, your Honor! This case
has no connection with any subsequent
act my client may be charged with!
The witness will substantiate Mr.
Kim's modus operandi. It's
circumstantial evidence in the case
As Judge Quealy ponders, the D.A. keeps up the pressure.
The witness is recalcitrant, your
Honor -- I had to personally make a
body attachment this morning -- it
took two Marshalls to drag him here!
The great personal sacrifices endured
by Mr. Reynard have no bearing on
the legal issues, your Honor -- !
Your Honor, I know as much about
these gangs as anyone; I'm well aware
of the secrecy in which their
machinations are cloaked... I assure
you this witness offers the court a
rare opportunity to place the
defendant's crime --
-- alleged crime --
-- in a context.
The lawyers anxiously wait as Judge Quealy considers. Now:
I will allow the witness to testify.
With the understanding that your
questions are confined to the area
of Mr. Kim's modus operandi.
-- With objection!
Eddie skulks back to the defense table.
As their final witness, the People
call Richard Ortega.
The Bailiff swings open the rear door. Escorted by the a
forementioned MARSHALLS, enter ORTEGA, from the opening scene.
He looks resentful and scared.
Reynard begins his direct examination.
Mr. Ortega, you've known the defendant
at Ossining Correctional for how
I would tend to plead the Fifth.
Invalid invocation, Mr. Ortega. What
I call "name, rank and serial number"
questions are not covered by the 5th
Amendment. You must answer counsel.
REYNARD looks pleased; ORTEGA, grim.
Mr. Ortega... What is "La Compania"?
A Cubano army, basically... inside
and outside prisons.
And its purpose?
Fighting the Aryan Warriors and the
Black Guerrillas, basically.
For control of the prison drug trade?
I would tend to plead the Fifth.
Mr. Ortega, you've already answered
questions about La Compania. You
cannot now selectively invoke the
Reynard glows with satisfaction.
Your Honor, that's not fair -- !
Complain to the Bar Commission.
Judge Quealy turns back to the witness.
Answer the question, Mr. Ortega.
Your unserved time can double...
The prospect of an extra day in prison fills Ortega with
Do the rival gangs compete for control
of the prison drug trade?
Yeah, we do some of that.
What is your rank within La Compania?
Ortega hesitates. With a tight smile, Reynard reminds him:
"Name, rank and serial," Mr. Ortega.
Let's not hide behind the Fifth.
I'm a soldado in the G-Wing Regiment.
And what does a soldado -- a soldier --
A soldado, he runs messages and
materiel between the regiments...
"Materiel"? What do you mean by that?
Cigarettes, candy bars...
If a member of the Aryan Brothers
tries to cut in on your distribution?
...A soldado, he takes care of it.
By "takes care of," you mean "kills".
(a beat, then)
At the Defense Table, Shu stiffens. So does Eddie.
Mr. Ortega, what is Shu Kai Kim's
rank within La Compania?
Isn't it unusual for an Asian to be
accepted into a Cuban prison gang?
Shu's the only one I know of...
And why was an exception made?
Chinatown. Sounded pretty cold...
You mean to say Mr. Kim told you
that he murdered Jimmy Chin?
His tone is stern. But for once he doesn't stand.
Ortega looks past Reynard, at Shu. Mournfully:
Man, they got me all fucked up here.
Judge Quealy POUNDS his GAVEL.
Mr. Ortega! I warn you...
-- Did Mr. Kim confess to you that
he killed Jimmy Chin?
...I think he mentioned it, yeah.
Reynard turns to face the jury.
In other words Shu Kai Kim is, and
always has been, a killer for hire.
Reynard's epithet reverberates in the courtroom.
Withdrawn. The People rest.
AT THE DEFENSE TABLE
Shu stares down at his penny-loafers. Eddie rises. Dully:
I move that the witness's testimony
be stricken. He has clearly been
terrorized by the prosecution, he's --
The testimony will remain in the
record. Do you wish to cross-examine?
Before Eddie can answer, Ortega jumps up and SHOUTS, at Shu:
I'm sorry, man -- ! Motherfuckers...
The Bailiff rushes to the witness box as Judge Quealy POUNDS
his GAVEL. And suddenly SHU leaps to his feet.
Take me outta here! I never wanted
this -- !
The Marshalls obligingly drag Shu toward the prisoners'
entrance, behind the bench.
The JURORS appear shocked and alarmed. The SPECTATORS stare,
Court is hereby adjourned until ten
Eddie just stands there. The sky has fallen on him. Now
Reynard rises at his desk. He catches Eddie's eye.
I hope you've learned something, Mr.
Then he and Rabin briskly exit the courtroom together.
INT. COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR - LATER
The spectators -- including KITTY -- emerge. The PILLARS and
their FAMILIES disperse quickly, silently.
Here comes EDDIE. What has seemed a merry jig in court now
looks like a limp.
ROGER behind Eddie. He moves to catch up, but sees that Eddie
is moving toward Kitty, waiting at the exit door. So Roger
But without even slowing down or giving a sign, Eddie moves
right past Kitty, and out of the building.
Shocked, Roger goes to Kitty. Gently touches her arm.
It's okay. It was always like that.
Shouldn't one of us...?
No -- leave him be. It's better for
Roger nods, resigned -- and then someone else in the departing
CROWD catches his eye.
Furtive and alone, hurrying away.
Roger turns to Kitty, an odd look on his face.
...Would you excuse me?
Kitty shrugs: sure.
INT. PRISON VISITORS ROOM - EVENING - LATER
The lawyer and his client face each other through a pane of
bulletproof plastic. Each has a telephone in front of him;
both fretfully finger their receivers. Eddie picks up first.
Quite a bit you didn't tell me.
When I joined up I took an oath of
secrecy. I told you what you needed
Eddie's words hiss, like steam escaping.
I didn't need to know that a man I'm
defending on a gang-murder rap is a
prison soldier who kills over drugs?
It was self-defense.
Jimmy Chin? Was that self-defense
In response Shu hangs up. Eddie POUNDS on the plastic, to
get him to pick up again. Shu does, provisionally.
I'm sorry, it's just -- You'll laugh
but there was awhile when I thought,
Hey, we're two sorry assholes who
need each other. Who can help each
As though he couldn't possibly have heard this right:
-- How could I help you?
By trusting me. Shit, man...
He trails off, momentarily defeated by the magnitude of what's
been lost. Now:
I got my face kicked 'cause I trusted
you. I couldn't find an expert to
say it wasn't your gun killed Jimmy
Chin but it didn't matter... I went
up against the goddam D.A. himself
but I didn't care because I trusted
you, because I believed in you,
because I thought there was a bond
Like a spurned lover who can't let go, Eddie implores Shu,
through the plastic:
Didn't you feel that?
Shu looks at Eddie is though he were an alien life form.
You're out there and I'm in here. My
bond -- my trust -- is with the dudes
in here that watch my ass. I took an
oath of loyalty to them. You're out
there. Who are you to me?
As he continues, a simmering resentment heats up his words.
When you leave this place you're
going out to dinner or a movie or
get laid. Where's our bond? I'm going
back to my cell and wait to die. So
tell me: Where's our bond?
For awhile we had this dream we were
innocent. That was our bond... but
then we woke up. And now I'd like to
Shu's eyes narrow.
What do you mean, "everything"?
With exaggerated calm, to cover the rage:
Tell me about Chinatown, Shu. Tell
me the tr--
Shu hangs up. Rocks to his shackled feet. And shuffles out
of the room, to return to his cell.
EXT. ART'S SUPPLIES - EVENING - LATER
Through the gated window, a WOMAN and MAN -- surely Art and
Mariquilla Esparza -- are seen in silhouette. Business hours
are over; the couple is alone in the front office. Mariquilla
sits at her desk, Art paces the office. Now, as he passes
her chair, Art leans down and kisses the top of his wife's
head. She involuntarily stiffens.
Art takes umbrage. MUFFLED WORDS. Mariquilla rises, grabs
her raincoat. Art touches her shoulder, entreating. Mariquilla
shakes her head.
EXT. STREET - ROGER
Watching this shadow play from the opposite curb. In b.g.,
the shimmering lights of the 59th Street Bridge and
Manhattan's skyscrapers seem worlds away from this misery.
BACK TO "ART'S SUPPLIES"
As Mariquilla exits the building.
EXT. STREET - EVENING - WITH MARIQUILLA
As she hurries along, lost in her thoughts. Now Roger falls
into step beside her.
She startles slightly, then quickly recovers her composure.
What do you want?
I'm Roger Baron. I work with Edward
Mariquilla gives no sign that this means anything to her.
What were you... Why were you at
Shu's trial this afternoon?
-- What trial?
Her pace quickens.
I followed you here from court.
I knew Jimmy Chin. The boy who was
(trying to make sense)
...And you were at the trial to...
to see that justice was done?
She briskly rounds a corner. Roger stays on her.
Then it was your idea to have Chuckie
Roeder scare Eddie off the case?
-- Why don't you ask Chuckie?
Chuckie OD'd, Mrs. Esparza. He's
Mariquilla seems to flinch.
Art didn't tell you...?
Mariquilla abruptly stops and turns to him. Imploring.
Look. Mister --
-- Roger --
You mustn't talk to Art. You mustn't
tell Art that I was at the trial. Do
you hear me?
There is animal fear behind Mariquilla's eyes.
But you lost a friend... You've got
a right to...
A realization forms.
Wait... Were you and Jimmy Chin...?
Mariquilla gazes into Roger's open, questing eyes. They're
the same age, but one has lived much longer than the other.
I can't talk to you anymore. Go away,
please... Never come back.
With that, she crosses the street. Slipping into darkness.
watches her disappear. And then, after two beats, he resumes
walking, back the way he came, toward the subway station.
A figure, lurking in the shadows, lights a cigarette. As the
match flares we make out the face of ART ESPARZA.
INT. HALLWAY - LATE NIGHT
A glassy-eyed Eddie KNOCKS and KNOCKS. Finally the door,
still chained, opens a crack. An eye peers out.
...Do you realize I haven't gotten
stoned since the trial started?
The door closes. Then reopens, unchained. Kitty stands there
in a robe she's thrown on.
Eddie... A guilty client's not the
end of the world...
He slams his fist against the wall. OS, NEIGHBORS SHOUT for
him to shut up.
It's liberating! I feel free!
More COMPLAINTS, OS. Shouting back at the neighbors:
Go fuck yourselves.
Kitty turns back to Eddie. Tenderly:
Eddie... go home. Get some sleep.
I don't need sleep!
I need sleep. Some of us are mere
Screw you too, Kitty.
He turns, and skulks back down her hallway into:
EXT. KITTY'S BUILDING - EARLY MORNING
A converted brownstone in Chelsea. Eddie sinks down on the
stoop, head in hands. Presently KITTY emerges, and sits down
next to him. Several silent BEATS. Then Eddie speaks., looking
straight ahead, not at Kitty.
For years I've defended scumbags.
Dealers. Hitters... And somehow it
seemed fine until this kid came along
who knew me as a true believer who'd
fought the good fight and... but...
he seemed so damned disappointed in
who he found... and then, out of
nowhere, here we were fighting to
free an innocent man -- an innocent
man, I don't see many of those in my
line anymore and I thought, Wow, the
kid brought me good luck, y'know?
For one minute I was a true believer
again. Well, my minute is up, Kitty.
I'm going back to defending
scumbags... But not just dope dealers
anymore. From now on: Child molesters.
Porno merchants. Repeat drunk drivers,
and I'm gonna get 'em all off. Hit
men... Send me every contract
killer... None of 'em does time ever
He rises, faltering a little. Kitty stands, steadies him.
Eddie. We can discuss this... after
you get some sleep.
Eddie shakes his head. As he stumbles down the steps:
I told you, Kitty -- no more sleep
EXT. GROVE STREET - NIGHT - LATER
Eddie wanders up to his funky building.
There's a SLEEPING BUM curled up in front of the door. Eddie
wearily leans down, to nudge the Bum aside. But it's ROGER.
The hell're you doing here?
Roger awakens very fast. He jumps to his feet.
Eddie -- it's Art Esparza!
What's Art Esparza?
I think he hired Shu to kill Jimmy
Chin... It wasn't a Chinatown gang
hit -- Jimmy Chin and Art's wife
were lovers! She just about told
You phoned up Art Esparza's wife?
I followed her from the courthouse.
Esparza's wife was at Shu's trial?
And you spotted her in the crowd?
Roger nods. Eddie takes a breath.
What're you, trying to show me up
INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS - LATE NIGHT
DOLLY PAST the odd HOOKER and VAGRANT being led from booking
to the bullpen. The unnatural quiet bespeaks the late hour.
CAMERA PUSHES into Records, closed for the night... Pacing
here is TOMMY, the cop who'd opened up the Exhibit Warehouse
for Eddie, earlier. Tommy appears to have been dragged out
of bed. Under his car coat is a flannel pajama top. Between
tense puffs on his cigarette:
Dowd... We're even now...
PUSH PAST Tommy, to TWO FIGURES huddled at a desk in the
corner. ROGER looks on as EDDIE rifles through a DOSSIER.
Esparza's security clearance to go
inside the jails for parole hearings.
CLOSE - PHOTO
A passport-type snapshot of the chubby, bald, bearded,
bespectacled ART ESPARZA.
Wonderful work Esparza does...
INTERCUT EDDIE AND ESPARZA'S FILE
Pictures, warrants, complaints. We can't make out the fine
print, only the PHOTOS as Eddie flips through them.
Skipping back two years.
THE NEXT PHOTO - A grainy telephoto shot of Esparza emerging
from Art's Supplies. His hair was thicker, he was thinner.
Wore a walrus moustache.
Esparza was being watched by Narco.
Suspected of using his warehouse as
a drug drop... Surveillance
NEXT PHOTO - A set of mugshots. Esparza is dramatically
thinner here. Lots more hair. Aviator glasses.
Four years ago. Esparza charged with
NEXT PHOTO - More mugshots. Esparza even thinner. Hair
Accessory to extortion. Dismissed.
Eddie flips, faster, through the file.
Dismissed for lack of evidence.
Roger looks questioningly at Eddie.
This little prick is protected.
He glances, suddenly skittish, at Tommy -- who picks up on
Eddie's paranoia and promptly reciprocates.
That's it -- I'm outta here. You owe
me one, Dowd.
Frowning, Eddie returns his attention to the file.
CLOSE ON ESPARZA'S FACE
As he gets younger, the moustache shrinks. Seven years back,
and it disappears.
Eight years ago: Esparza's black hair is cut in a shag, and
the glasses are gone.
Something new in Eddie's voice commands Roger's attention.
I've seen this picture before.
He reaches into his wallet, pulls out Shu's old mugshot.
Holds the two mugshots next to each other. Hushed:
They could've been brothers. It's
why the eyewitnesses picked Shu.
Christ... Shu is innocent.
INSERT - THE PHOTOS
Given that they're of different races, the resemblance between
Art Esparza and Shu Kai Kim, in 1980, is startling.
"The killer wasn't Chinese"... Cecil
Stipe was right. .!
Everyone else was wrong and the one
fucking lunatic was right!
Roger wears a tense smile.
Does this mean Kennedy was killed by
the phone company?
INT. HEADQUARTERS CORRIDOR
The two lawyers hurry out. Roger smiles at the DESK SERGEANT
with exaggerated amiability.
But Shu's gun is an absolute match...!
How could that be, goddammit?
EXT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS - LATE NIGHT
The lawyers bound down the steps, dart into the street--
-- and are nearly run down by an AMBULANCE that whizzes past,
pulling into the garage of the County Coroner's Office.
Least we'd already be at the Morgue.
Briskly shaking off their brush with eternity, Eddie and
Roger proceed down the block.
Let's make a citizen's arrest of
Esparza! We'll need back-up... Who's
the meanest motherfucker you ever
As Roger ducks into a phone booth:
Fuck that, Rog. Esparza's nobody.
This goes higher than him...
Roger feeds the phone.
Gotta start somewhere. Gimme a name --
any client who owns a Magnum.
Eddie's staring at the PHONE BOOTH. It's pagoda-style, with
Chinese-red pent roof.
Wait a second.
Eddie squints down the street...
Even at this late hour we see enough decoration and signage
to recognize Chinatown, not seven blocks uptown.
How long did it take Badalato to
drive Jimmy Chin's body from Chinatown
to the morgue?
... An hour.
That's why I thought the morgue was
on the other side of town.
Eddie fairly pushes Roger out of the phone booth. Thumbs
through the White Pages, finds the page he's looking for,
tears it out and stuffs it into his pocket.
As he races for his Riviera, parked in a towaway zone:
Roger... I may be late for court
He hops in, revs the old heap.
Fill in for me, huh?
And Eddie peels out.
EXT. STUYVESANT TOWN - LATE NIGHT
A mammoth '50s housing project by the East River. The
monolithic buildings are like giant tombstones jutting into
the night sky.
Dark. The front door buzzer BUZZES. We HEAR a groggy:
-- Who the hell...?
A frowzy CONNIE BADALATO snaps ON a LIGHT. Reflexively reaches
for the bottle of Seagrams on her night-table.
AT THE DOOR
stands the long-haired creep from last week's murder trial.
Hope I didn't wake you. I'm Edward
C. Dowd. You're Mrs. Badalato?
Connie waves her bottle of scotch like a weapon.
Ms. Vin's sister.
I have to talk to your brother.
The hell you do. At this hour?
As he brushes past her, Connie grabs his ponytail. Eddie
whirls and grabs Connie's bottle -- waves it over her head.
Gimme back my bottle.
Let go of my hair.
Connie lets go, Eddie relinquishes her bottle. As he backs
up, toward Badalato's bedroom, he points a finger.
Like a good dog, Connie hangs back. Whimpering, slightly.
INT. BADALATO'S BEDROOM
Eddie gasps -- stops short.
Badalato lies propped up in his robe and socks. He's staring
at the test pattern of a TV on his bureau. He's dead.
No he's not... Expressionless, still staring ahead:
Do I know you?
Eddie crosses to the inert ex-cop.
I'm Eddie Dowd. I cross-examined
But not very well.
Badalato's eyes are shiny as marbles. On his night-table we
notice a half-dozen prescription vials.
What did you do with Jimmy Chin's
Badalato's lips part, but there's no sound. Eddie shakes
What did you do with Jimmy Chin's
Badalato's lids flutter.
I brought it... to the coroner.
An hour after you picked it up!
Badalato reaches for a vial, casually fishes out two pills.
An hour later...
He pops the pills.
From Chinatown... Which is right up
the street from the morgue! Where
did you go with the body? What did
you do with it?
Please... I need to sleep...
Eddie slams Badalato up against the headboard.
You're fishing. You don't know shit.
I know about Esparza.
A cloud crosses Badalato's face. OS, we HEAR:
-- It wasn't Vin's idea.
Connie has advanced to the doorway.
Whose idea was it?
Badalato tries to focus on his sister.
Connie get outta here... this is
You were pressured... Tell the man!
Dammit Connie -- go back to bed!
As she backs out of the room, to Eddie:
The little guys always take the rap
for the big shots.
Connie leaves. Eddie turns back to Badalato. Before he can
resume his inquisition:
Montell... one of my partners... he
said it'd work if it was a thru-and
Eddie inhales sharply. Lets go of the ex-cop. His voice
shrinking to a near-whisper:
What's a "thru-and-thru"?
Badalato reaches for another pill.
I have this chronic pain...
He pops the pill, leans back.
Eight years I'm waiting for some
genius to notice it took me an hour
to drive seven blocks.
He lets his eyes close. One, two, three beats. Then:
I drove Chin's body to The Firing
Line. Pistol range, near the Battery.
Lotta cops used to go there...
FLASH BACK to NOVEMBER 2, 1980:
BADALATO'S POV - MOVING - MIDNIGHT
As he pulls the paddywagon into an alley, marked by a sign
overhead: "THE FIRING LINE". The SHOT has the floating quality
and irresistible forward motion of a dream.
Sklaroff brought Shu Kai Kim's gun.
Montell was already there...
Badalato (younger, fit) lifts his end of the stretcher bearing
the sheet-covered corpse. Slides it out, to Montell.
He said we'd only have three hours.
After that, with the body cooling,
and the clotting... it wouldn't look
right to the pathologist.
INT. PISTOL RANGE
The cops squat beside the stretcher. Badalato strips the
bloody sheet down to the corpse's waist. Sklaroff grips Jimmy
Chin's shoulders and carefully hoists his torso upright.
Chin's head lolls, empty eyes staring.
Chin was hit once in the forehead by
Esparza's .32. The bullet exited
That's a thru-and-thru.
Badalato gingerly tugs on a hank of Chin's hair, to raise up
the corpse's head.
All Montell had to worry about was
firing Kim's .38 at the same angle.
Montell, with gloved hand, brings Shu's gun to Jimmy Chin's
forehead. Tilts it, just so. And FIRES.
INT. BEDROOM - BADALATO
The ROAR of the GUN-BLAST, no less loud as it echoes in his
head eight years later, has startled open Badalato's eyes.
We recovered the bullet and that was
it -- an airtight case...
Eddie is trying to wrap his mind around this awful thing.
But why? All to protect Esparza?
Badalato reaches, unsteadily, for another pill. His lids
have drooped again.
Nasty little bastard. He stepped in
Badalato's head slumps. The impact of his chin striking his
chest surprises him awake again.
...we had to lick his boots clean.
He was your snitch.
Our own Colombian Connection... For
three years... Three years of ball
breaking detective work. And we put
a lotta bad guys behind bars.
And one good guy.
Badalato reaches for the vial again. Eddie grabs it first.
Reads the label.
Demerol? What the fuck is your
problem, man? You wanna die?
I'm dead. We're both dead.
Eddie hurls the open vial across the room: the pills scatter.
Nobody dies till I hear the truth!
Who ordered the frame on Shu?
Badalato stubbornly shakes his heavy head.
It was wrong, Vinnie -- you know
that! But we can make it right... if
you'll fucking stand up!
Badalato looks up at Eddie. His eyes fill with tears. Still
he doesn't move. Eddie grabs the ex-cop's pudgy hands.
Get up, godammit!
And Eddie hauls Badalato off the bed.
Eddie drags Badalato past Connie, chewing her cuticles.
Don't hurt him.
Where's the nearest hospital?
Bellevue. Straight up First --
Badalato is slumped in the corner. The car descends with
painful slowness. Eddie nudges Badalato's shoulder.
Stay awake, Badalato. Vinnie... Come
on, man, talk to me!
Badalato's response: A faint SNORTING sound.
Did I say snort? No, I said talk.
Please... I need you to live...
Hey: When was the first time you got
(no answer, then)
Okay, I sympathize, I blocked mine
out myself. She had a moustache...
Finally the car stops. The door creakily slides open. As
Eddie pulls the hulking ex-cop upright:
...Where're we goin'?
I don' need a hospital... I feel
Too fine, Badalato. The bad news is,
you're gonna live.
In response Badalato GURGLES -- it sounds, disconcertingly,
like a death rattle.
Make y'a deal. You clean up, I clean
up. No more dope.
No more dope for a year.
For the rest of the year.
He hauls Badalato OUT of the elevator, and right into --
SKLAROFF AND MONTELL Montell, the burlier of the two, flings
Eddie against the wall. With an odd, brutal melancholy:
Why'd you have to come here, you
Meantime Sklaroff helps Badalato down the access stairs as
he murmurs soothing assurances in the ex-cop's ear.
As Montell roughly pat-searches Eddie:
Montell... listen to me: Vinnie took
a buncha pills. He needs a hospital.
Makes two of ya.
He knees Eddie in the groin, then tosses him into:
INT. ACCESS STAIRS
Eddie tumbles down the short flight. Then picks himself up
as Montell hurtles after him. Eddie makes a break, into:
INT. UNDERGROUND GARAGE
but ESPARZA's waiting here. He hauls off, smashing Eddie's
head against the concrete wall.
Goddammit Art, get back in the car!
Meantime Sklaroff walks Badalato past a row of dark sedans
huddled like hearses... Past a mesh gate that guards the
building's ancient furnaces, crackling with flame, spewing
steam... To an UNMARKED CAR parked at the far end of the
garage. Softly, suppressing his unbearable tension:
Vin... What'd you tell the lawyer?
He opens the back door, maneuvers Badalato onto the seat.
With infinite kindness, infinite patience:
I'm here, Vin. So's Dave. We need to
know what you told the lawyer.
Badalato nods, slowly. A stoned, beatific smile forms.
I came clean...
Pain stabs Sklaroff's face. He pats Badalato's knee.
Good, Vinnie... You wait here.
As he starts back to where Montell and Esparza stand over
Eddie, Sklaroff draws the gun from his shoulder-holster.
His face, in the dirty yellow flourescent light down here,
is a taut, shiny death mask. Quietly:
Vinnie told 'im everything.
Woozily, as he mops the blood from his brow with a sleeve:
What, "everything"? You shot a corpse.
I don't give a shit about that -- !
Let's snuff this lowlife!
Hey -- the fact you popped Jimmy
Chin in broad daylight proves it
wasn't premeditated. Jury'll
sympathize -- dude was banging your
Shut your sewer mouth!
He lunges at Eddie. Montell pulls him back.
Killing me in the middle of the trial
would cause quite a stink...
It won't be clean like with Chuckie.
What, y'treat him to a match-head of
Esparza shakes Montell loose.
That's right -- I'm a generous guy!
Montell gazes with loathing at Esparza.
-- Who'd y'waste now, Art?
Meantime Sklaroff levels the gun at Eddie's face.
Do it. So we can go home.
Sklaroff's finger twitches, on the trigger.
Still letting your snitch run you?
Sklaroff's eyes flash. Eddie's touched a nerve.
Lou... We have to.
Waste him, y'little worm!
Sklaroff's gaze flies from Esparza to Eddie to Montell. All
four men's faces are slick with sweat.
(draws his .32)
Okay then I'll put this filthy lawyer
freak out of his mis--
Abruptly Sklaroff swivels, jams his gun against Esparza's
ear and FIRES. As Esparza topples backward, eyes and mouth
Shut up, Art.
Eddie jumps up in horror. Montell blinks at Sklaroff.
Shoulda done that eight years ago.
Waving his gun at Esparza's ruined head, Sklaroff hoarsely
shouts at Eddie:
You see that? You wanna be like that?
You fucking swear to shut up!
Montell registers shock at his partner's offer.
...We can't trust this fuck...
You gonna keep quiet -- ?
Eddie considers for a moment that feels like forever. Then:
I can't do that... Keep quiet? You
can't ask me to do that!
Shoot 'im, f'r Chrissakes!
Desperate, Sklaroff kicks Esparza's corpse.
That's the motherfucker killed Jimmy
Chin. It's justice...!
Eddie nods... he agrees...
But I have a client eight years in
prison didn't do it...
Montell grabs the gun from Sklaroff.
You sorry bastard.
Eyes fixed on the gun, Eddie takes a step back.
My guy's gotta walk. You hear me?
Montell swallows hard, then raises the gun.
You hear what I'm saying? It's over --
all the bullshit. Your bullshit, my
bullshit -- all the lies -- that's
it, party's over, enough's enough...
Y'live a lie, you die inside -- don't
you know that?
I have to go now. I have to be in
Pointed at Eddie's back. His finger tightens on the trigger.
crosses the oil-stained concrete... past the row of black
sedans, the clanking furnaces... barely able to breathe...
waiting for the bullet.
starts to shake, just slightly. He brings up his other arm,
to steady the gun.
has traversed this humid half-acre of hell... he reaches the
unmarked car. A bleary Badalato looks up at him, Eddie holds
out a hand. His voice catching:
Vinnie... You coming?
Badalato reaches up. And takes Eddie's hand.
MONTELL AND SKLAROFF
Sklaroff places his hand on Montell's wrist. He helps his
partner slowly lower the gun. Party's over.
EDDIE AND BADALATO
awkwardly walk up the ramp. The sun is just rising over New
York City. The two men squint as they come into the light.
INT. COURTOOM - NEXT MORNING
The Pillars have bailed out. Shu sits at the Defense Table.
Not happy to be here. Roger stands.
Your Honor, Mr. Dowd indicated that
he may be detained this morning...
He asked me to fill in for him...
This doesn't amuse me, Mr. B--
The door opens. It's EDDIE. Tattered, bruised and tired.
AT THE PROSECUTION TABLE
Rabin nudges Reynard. It appears that the defense has been
on a titanic bender.
The Judge puts on a sarcastic smile.
Good morning, Mr. Dowd. Do you think
you might be up to cross-examining
Mr. Ortega this morning?
Your Honor: I imagine that, no matter
how careful my questioning, Mr. Ortega
would, in his well-intentioned way,
dig my client's hole even deeper.
Judge Quealy nods. Not without a trace of compassion.
Well then, does the defense have any
I suppose I could find an inmate
who'd say that Shu boasted about
Chinatown just to survive in the
joint -- though he didn't really do
AT THE DEFENSE TABLE
Shu looks up. Interested, again, in the proceedings.
I guess I could find witnesses to
dispute every point made by the D.A.
But in the end, would we be any closer
to understanding what really happened
eight years ago? As Mr. Reynard has
said, these matters are cloaked in
secrecy... How can we, here in the
safety and sanctity of this court,
presume to pass judgment on Shu Kai
Kim, a refugee...
AT THE DEFENSE TABLE
Reynard trades smug looks with Rabin and starts packing his
...who has spent his young adulthood
like a caged animal in a prison where
kill or be killed was the code...
His impatience tinged with pity:
-- Then you don't wish to call any
witnesses, Mr. Dowd?
I would like to put Shu's alleged
crime in a context, your Honor. And
we do have the foremost expert on
prison and street gangs right here
in this room... If it please the
court, I'd like to call Mr. Reynard.
AT THE DEFENSE TABLE
DEAN RABIN looks outraged. REYNARD is merely annoyed.
I would ask opposing counsel to make
an offer of proof that this is
anything more than a desperate tactic.
Will you both approach the bench...?
Reynard strides up. As Eddie joins him:
-- Can't Mr. Dowd find his own expert
witness, your Honor?
I'd need a continuance. Three weeks
Judge Quealy sighs. He doesn't have three weeks to waste.
Your questions would of course be
restricted to Mr. Reynard's area of
It's a last-ditch ploy, your Honor...
The Defense clearly hopes that my
presence on the stand will create
the opportunity to call for a
He flashes Eddie a grim smile.
But the Defense is mistaken.
Reynard proceeds to the witness box. Though it's clearly a
formality, the D.A. must be sworn in.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth,
so help you God?
Eddie ambles over to the witness box.
Let's start by establishing your
credentials as an expert witness,
Mr. Reynard. In the late '70s you
led an investigation into a Colombian
crime syndicate called "the Ochoa"?
As though indulging a child:
Yes, Mr. Dowd.
Didn't this investigation, with its
attendant publicity, catapult you
into the office you now hold?
If I were sitting where I normally
sit, I would say "Calls for
THE JURORS are charmed by Reynard's ironic bonhomie.
Did you do any hands-on work or did
you just supervise, from on high?
Mr. Dowd, I was personally involved
with all phases -- and principals --
of the investigation.
And who were the detectives who
assisted you, Mr. Reynard?
glances into Eddie's eyes, to read what's behind them.
His expression gives away nothing.
Reynard, as he answers, manages to sound perfectly casual.
Lou Sklaroff, Vin Badalato, Dave
The same three detectives on the
Jimmy Chin case.
Judge Quealy perks up considerably.
In those days, they often worked as
And who was Arturo Esparza?
Reynard hesitates. Then:
I don't think I know that name.
-- But you just said you were
personally involved with all the
principals of the investigation.
I can't be expected to remember the
name of every informant eight years
after the fact.
I didn't say he was an informant.
But since you mentioned it, wasn't
Esparza your primary informant?
You're trespassing into the area of
witness protection, Mr. Dowd. Such
showboating puts lives at risk.
Heedless, Eddie hammers at him.
Isn't it true that without Esparza,
you had no investigation?
I think you're a dangerous man, Mr.
I hope so, Mr. Reynard.
Eddie moves in closer.
On the night of November 2, 1980,
did Art Esparza phone you at home to
say, "I just killed a man in Chinatown --
people saw me do it"?
The REPORTERS trade looks, then start to madly scribble.
No? Then what did he say?
has no idea what's going on. All he knows is that he must do
something. He stands.
Objection. Badgering the witness.
Judge Quealy's withering glance causes the Deputy D.A. to
sink back down and stay down.
You'd worked too hard to let Esparza's
crime of passion spoil everything.
You ordered your team to comb through
the mugbooks. Find a patsy. Frame
Protect your case.
Protect your career. Isn't that so?
The COURTROOM sucks in a collective breath.
That's an outrageous accus...
Reynard trails off as, in the back of the courtroom:
is helped into the courtroom by CONNIE. Who pointedly sits
her brother behind the defense, with Kitty and Mrs. Kim.
A cornered animal. His gaze flicks from Badalato to Eddie.
This time Eddie returns Reynard's gaze.
Putting away one punk enabled you to
keep your informant out of prison
and in place.
SHU has gone pale. Tears stream down MRS. KIM's face. KITTY
reaches an arm around her shoulders, to comfort her.
By keeping your informant out of
prison and in place, you were able
to complete your work. Ultimately
you saved scores of lives, didn't
No answer. Now Eddie invokes the D.A.'s pet principle:
It was a trade-off, wasn't it?
Quietly, with a kind of tragic dignity:
A trade-off, yes...
I'd do it again.
Eddie nods. Then returns to the defense table and sits,
between Roger and Shu. Eddie looks drained but exalted. He
can sleep now.
The defense rests.
INT. PRISON CELL - MORNING
Shu Kai Kim sits on the edge of his cot. Listens to the ECHO
of FOOTSTEPS that grow LOUDER. In eight years of waiting, a
man learns patience.
The FOOTSTEPS STOP, tumblers TURN. Still, Shu doesn't move;
moving might break the spell. The cell DOOR slides OPEN.
C'mon, Kim. Time to go.
EXT. PARKING LOT
Shu emerges from the Main Gate, toting a sad little vinyl
valise. Blinking, as though he hasn't seen daylight in years.
He heads toward the concrete depot where a bus will take him
south, to New York City. How strange to walk without shackles,
handcuffs, armed guards. OS he HEARS:
Need a lift?
Edward C. Dowd lounges against his Riviera.
Shu cocks his head, stares at the lawyer.
Eddie shrugs, stares down. Three beats. When he looks up --
Shu is standing before him. Searching for words. Failing to
find them. At last:
Shit, man -- let's get out of here.
Now ROGER steps out of the car, holds open the door for Shu.
Spewing clouds of pollution, Eddie's car pulls away.
RISE over the turrets and towers and electrified fences as
Eddie, Roger and Shu drive away from the prison, to freedom.
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