John Grisham was born in 1955 and became a lawyer after he graduated from college. He was also involved in politic and now lives in Virginia with his wife and 2 children. He has sold over 55 million books and is one of the world´s most popular writers.


Carl Lee Hailey:           black worker, who kills the white rapers of his daughter

Tonya Hailey   :       Carl Lee´s daughter

Jake Brigance  :      a young white lawer, who takes the defense of Carl Lee

Ozzi Walls         :          black sheriff of Clanton

Rufus Buckley:             the prosecutor

Ellen Roark        :        a young law student  

Sgt. Looney    :              the deputy, who gets injured by a confused bullet

Mister Noose  :             the judge 

Billy Ray Cobb

and Pete Willard:     white men, rapers of Tonya Hailey

KU KLUX KLAN:      a secret organization that began in 1865 in the southern

                                 states of the US and has a long history of violent attacs

                                 against black people and their supporters.                  



At the beginning of the story, Tonya Hailey, a ten year old black girl, is raped by Billy Ray Cobb and his friend Pete Willard on the way home. They injure her badly and they also want to hang her but the bough brakes and so they throw her over a bridge into a dried up river-bed.

The girl is found by a member of her family who tells her mother what had happened. Carl Lee Hailey and his wife lay an information against the two white men and later they are arrested by sheriff Walls.

In the meantime, Carl Lee Hailey makes inquiries of Jake Brigance about consequences of murdering a person. Jake tells him, that if the same had have happened to his daughter, he would kill the raper. Carl Lee also askes Jake if he would defend him in case of emergency. As he affirms, Carl Lee decides to buy himself a gun and to kill the rapers of his daughter.

When Sgt Looney takes Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard to the court for their hearing, Carl Lee jumps out and shoots them down. A confused bullet hits Looney in his right knee. The two rapers are dead at the moment and Carl Lee is arrested by sheriff Walls.

In prison Carl Lee begs Jake Brigance to take his defense and he promises. But it is a very difficult intention because the inhabitants of Clanton are mostly white and also the members of the jury will be white. Jake aspires to conduct the trial in another federal state, where more black inhabitants will be in the jury and maybe judge fairer. But this petition is turned down by judge Noose.

So Jake Brigance and his assistants Ellen Roark, a brilliant law student, and Harry Rex Vonner, a friend of Jake, search for irksome material to expose the prosecutors´ witnesses. Rufus Buckley and his helpers do the same on the other side. For example both psychatrists, one of each side get blamed by Rufus an Jake. During the investigations Jake and his colleges are attacked several times by members of the KU KLUX KLAN. They burn down Jake´s house, attack the husband of his secretary and at last Ellen.

In the opinion of the reverend of Clanton and other members of the church a black lawyer should defend Carl Lee. They think that there is not the least chance to get him free if he is defended by a white lawyer.

At the final trail the prosecutor demands death penalty for Carl Lee and tries to convince the jury of his guilt. In his pleading Jake Brigance begs the witnesses to close their eyes and tells again the whole story of what had happened to little Tonya. He doesn´t leave out anything, he describes the whole act of violence.
At the end, he demands the witnesses to imagine that all this had happened to a WHITE girl.  

The jury is very affected of this pleading and they find Carl Lee for not guilty.



rape, raper:                             Vergewaltigung, Vergewaltiger

lawyer:                                  Anwalt

prosecutor:                             Staatsanwalt

dried up river bed:     ausgetocknetes Flussbett                  

bough:                        Ast

lay an information:    anzeigen

to make inquiries:                  sich erkundigen                     guilt:              Schuld

in case of emergency:            im Ernstfall                      guilty:            schuldig

to affirm:                               bejahen                           to beg:          bitten

hearing:                                  Anhörung                        investigation:  Recherchen

intention:                               Vorhaben                        to demand:    fordern

to aspire:                                anstreben

to conduct:                             durchführen

federal state:              Bundesstaat

turn down:                              ablehnen

pleading:                                Schlussrede, Plädoyer

petition:                                 Antrag

irksome:                                 belastend

expose:                                   bloßstellen

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