Carl Travers: I was your first, you know that, Arthur? I was your first client, you broke cherry on me.
Arthur Kirkland: Now is not the time to go down memory lane, Carl.
If everybody agrees I'm innocent, how come I'm going back to jail?
Arthur Kirkland: [Arthur is visiting his client Jeff McCullaugh in jail, and sees that he has been assaulted] Jeff, what happened?
Jeff McCullaugh: Some... somebody beat me up...
Arthur Kirkland: Why?
Jeff McCullaugh: I dunno, I didn't ask.
[After he fires a gun in his courtroom, to stop an argument] Gentlemen, need I remind you we are in a court of law? [long pause] Now, let's proceed in an orderly fashion.
—Judge Francis Rayford
At this point, I would just like to say that what this committee is doing in theory is highly commendable. However, in practice, it sucks... and I'm not going to answer any more questions.
Arthur Kirkland: When asked what you were doing you said, 'I don't know nothing about that taxi cab robbery'.
Ralph Agee: Now that's true, because I don't.
Arthur Kirkland: How did you know there was one, Ralph?
Ralph Agee: Mr. Kirkland, there's ALWAYS one.
Arthur Kirkland: Why do we have to use microphones? Why can't we just talk to each other? We're close enough.
Assistant D.A. Keene: This is a hearing, Mr. Kirkland.
Sam Kirkland: Are you a good lawyer? Honest?
Arthur Kirkland: Being honest doesn't have much to do with being a lawyer.
Sam Kirkland: If you're not honest, you've got nothing.
Arthur Kirkland: Where are we going?
Judge Francis Rayford: [in a helicopter] Would you like to go anywhere in particular?
Arthur Kirkland: No! Down! I'd prefer to go down!
Judge Francis Rayford: [Yelling over the noise of the helicopter he is piloting] Did you ever skydive? ... Skydive? Did you ever skydive?
Arthur Kirkland: No, why?
Judge Francis Rayford: You ought to try it. You might learn something. You know, I was skydiving once and my main chute didn't open. I pulled my reserve which didn't open either. There I was, plunging to the Earth. Just as I hit the tree tops, I discovered the meaning of life.
Arthur Kirkland: Which is?
Judge Francis Rayford: It sucks, Arthur! It really sucks!
Prison should be a frightening place. Let those criminals create their own hellhole....I tell you, Arthur, the idea of punishment to fit the crime doesn't work. We need unjust punishment. Hang somebody for armed robbery. Try it! We've got nothin' to lose. Do you understand what I'm sayin' to you, for God's sake? You don't, do you? Oh! You fellas with your fancy ideas of rehabilitation. I tell you that the concept of rehabilitation is a farce. Do you honestly think that, that bringing Johnny Cash into prisons to sing railroad songs is gonna rehabilitate anyone? Most people are sick and tired of mugging and crime in the streets... [Arthur leaves] Arthur? Arthur?
—Judge Henry T. Fleming
[after a client hangs himself due to Warren's incompetence] Don't you care, Warren?... don't you even care?... [tearful] They're people, they're just people.
Your Honor, Mr. Foreman, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my name is Arthur Kirkland, and I am the defense counsel for the defendant, Judge Henry T. Fleming. Now, that man over there hes the prosecuting attorney, and he couldnt be happier today. He is a happy man today, because today hes going after a judge, and if he gets him, if he gets him, hes going to be a star. Hes going to have his name in this months Law Review . Centerfold. Lawyer of the Month. Now, in order to win this case, he needs you, naturally. Youre all hes got, believe me. So hes counting on tapping that emotion in you that says Lets get somebody in power. Lets get a judge. However, these proceedings are not about that. These proceedings are here to see that justice is done. And justice, as any reasonable person will tell you, is the finding of the truth. And what is the truth today? One truth, a tragic one, is that that girl has been beaten and raped. Another truth is that the prosecution doesnt have a witness, does not have one piece of substantiating evidence other than the testimony of the victim herself. Another truth is that my client voluntarily, and the prosecution is well aware of this fact, voluntarily took a lie detector test and told the truth. [prosecution objects, which the Judge sustains]
Sorry, Your Honor. Lets get back to justice. What is justice? What is the intention of justice? The intention of justice is to see that the guilty people are punished and the innocent are freed. Simple, isnt it? Only its not that simple. However, it is the defense counsels duty to protect the rights of the individual, as it is the prosecutions duty to uphold and defend the laws of the state. Justice for all. Only we have a problem here. And you know what it is? Both sides want to win. We want to win. We want to win regardless of the truth. And we want to win regardless of justice. Regardless of whos guilty or innocent. Winning is everything! That man there wants a win so badly today, it means so much to him, he is so carried away with the prospect of winning, the idea, that he forgot something absolutely essential to todays proceeding. He forgot his case. He forgot to bring it. I dont know, I dont see it, do you? The prosecutions case. Hes got to have one. Not a witness, not one piece of substantiating evidence other than the testimony of the victim herself. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a case to end all cases. I have witnesses for my client, I have character references, testimonials that are backed up from here to Washington DC!
The one thing that bothered me, the one thing that stayed in my mind and I couldnt get rid of it, that haunted me was why? Why would she lie? What was her motive for lying? If my client is innocent, shes lying. Why? Was it blackmail? No. Was it jealousy? No. Yesterday, I found out why. She doesnt have a motive. You know why? Because shes not lying. And ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, the prosecution is not going to get that man today. No! Because Im going to get him! My client, the Honorable Henry T. Fleming, should go right to FUCKING JAIL! The son of a bitch is GUILTY! That man is guilty! That man there, that man. That man is a slime! He is a slime! If hes allowed to go free, something really wrong is going on here!
[Judge says Arthur is out of order] YOURE out of order! Youre out of order! The whole trial is out of order! THEYRE out of order! That man, that sick, crazy depraved man raped and beat that woman there, and hed like to do it again! He TOLD me so! Its just a show! Its a show! Its Lets Make a Deal! Lets make a deal! Hey, Frank, you want to make a deal? I got an insane judge who likes to beat the shit out of women! What do you want to give me, Frank? Three weeks probation? You son of a bitch, you! Youre supposed to stand for something! Youre supposed to protect people! But instead you fucking murder them! You killed McCullough!! [Arthur is dragged out of court] You killed him! Hold it! Hold it! I just completed my opening statement!