Ethical Issues In The Movie: A Time To Kill

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In the movie, A Time to Kill, the main character Jake Brigance who is an attorney in the state of Mississippi describes the danger he faces when he takes on a murder case. During this period, there was still racial tension between whites and African-Americans in the state of Mississippi. The murder case that Brigance takes on involves two Caucasian men who were murdered by an African-American named, Carl Lee Hailey. Hailey murders the two white men because they raped and assaulted his 10-year-old daughter, Tanya Hailey. In the movie, Brigance is threatened by community members to drop the murder case. For example, members of the local Ku Klux Klan chapter in Mississippi try to instill fear into Brigance’s family and employees by burning of …show more content…
Laws are rules that help society determine what is acceptable or not. In the film, multiple ethical issues are highlighted. Carl Lee Hailey is faced with an ethical dilemma after his 10-year-old daughter is raped by two white men. Hailey contemplates whether he should trust the legal system or take the law into his own hands. As Hailey decides how to deal with this matter he is reminded that the legal system favors whites over African-Americans. Yet, Hailey decides to take a rifle and hide in the court room until the morning when the two white men would face trial. The next morning as the two men are escorted by officers into the court room Hailey fires killing the two men and injuring an officer. Hailey believed that murdering the two men would “save other little girls from also being victimized” and punish the two men for their actions (Schumacher,1996). Another ethical issue is when Hailey decides to head to Jake Brigance’s office to discuss Tanya’s rape. While talking about the incident Brigance is put in a difficult position—should he sympathize with Hailey and let him plot a crime against the rapist or should he take the side of two white male rapists. Brigance brushes the situation at hand off his shoulders and fails to report Hailey to law enforcement resulting in the death of two men. After Hailey’s arrest for the murder of the two men, Brigance was put in a difficult …show more content…
Brigance’s first time of hearing about the obstacle African-Americans faced was with Carl Lee Hailey’s murder case. When discussing the murder case Brigance acknowledges Hailey as an individual who will be a “yard worker [who] lives in the hill” in front of the court. Hailey understood the implications he faced by the community due to the color of his skin and appearance. The community of Canton acknowledge the resentment they had for the people of color by living on “different sides of the line”. Children of both African-Americans and whites could “never play together” due to their differences. As Brigance discusses a plea deal that would get Hailey “life in prison because we are not going to win this case”, Hailey wants to be set free because he murdered two men to protect his daughter, Tanya. The legal system at the time did not favor the rights of African-Americans because there was a “war” based on race. The “secret weapon” in the case was Brigance, he was raised as the “bad guy” who looked down upon African-Americans. Brigance can think like the enemy, to help “convenience” the jurors understand the cause of the murder and set Hailey free. However, early on Brigance uses the murder case as an opportunity to show case his talent as an attorney instead of helping Hailey. In a television interview Brigance states “until we can see each

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