The Chamber (1996) Script

I think I'm gonna die.

You wanted a birthday party.

What's that old expression?

Never mix bourbon with champagne?


Jews can't drink.

Honey, how about I take the boys to school?

Bless you.

Where we going? Daddy's office! Daddy's office!

Who wants Daddy's briefcase? Me, me, me!

Run to the car. Run to the car.

Run to the car. Oh! Watch yourself.


Bye, Mommy. I love you!

Say bye to Mommy. Bye, Mommy!

Bye. Be good, boys.

Love you.

I love you, too.

Okay. Let's go to work.

Get in there.

Get in that car. Get in that car.

You get in that car.

Okay. Sit down, boys. Here we go.

Daddy's office!

Bye! See you home after this!


Hey, Mr. Kramer.

Daddy's office! Daddy's office! Daddy's office!

Everybody out.

Close that door. Attaboy.

Okay. Everybody in. Let's go.

Do we have to go in there?

You gotta go all the way.

All the way.

Hey, big stinky earplug! Hey, big stinky man!

Who is it?

So far, all that's been recovered are the bodies of two small children, their identity unknown.

The service is now completed.

Goddamn you! You're murderers!

You're filthy murderers! And you know it!

You're murderers, all of you! You're murderers!

Tell us why you did it.

You killed my boys!

You murderer! You filthy murderer!

You killed my boys, Cayhall!

Have you lost your mind?

No, I'm very serious. I want the Cayhall case.

What do you know about the death penalty, Mr. Hall?

I've read everything there is.

Then you know nothing.

I know that you took Sam Cayhall pro bono, and you've kept him alive all these years.

And I also know that he just won the right to fire you.

Do you mind telling me how you know that?

I made it my business.

And do you know the reason why he fired me?

He hates lawyers.

Then why in the world would he hire you?

Go back to your office, Mr. Hall.

We both have better things to do.

Sam Cayhall is my grandfather.


You have a relationship with Williams and Cook in Jackson.

I could work out of that office.

I also know you have great contacts at Parchman Prison.

A word from you wouldn't hurt there, either.

I take it Hall is not your real name, then.

My parents changed it from Cayhall after the murders.

Do you still have family down there?

I have an aunt in Jackson. I told her I might be down on business.

Does she know what this business is?

I'll tell her when I get there.

You Cayhalls are big on secrets.

Did you ever actually meet your grandfather?


Did they even tell you he existed?

I found out at my father's funeral.

When was that? 1980.

Same year Sam was sentenced to die.

Yes, sir.

Your father must have been a very young man.

Thirty-five years, four months, six days.

Perhaps I shouldn't have asked.

It's not a big deal.

I was 52 years old the first time I handled a death row case.

I didn't sleep for a week afterwards.

I don't sleep as it is.

You open up passions no one wants uncovered, and you are not welcomed.

For one brief terrible moment, Sam Cayhall is gonna be the most talked-about man in the country.

Mr. Goodman, I've been living with this case, one way or another, my whole life.

To do so officially might actually be a relief.

The odds of winning are a joke.

You don't have a chance in hell.

I'm going, Mr. Goodman, with or without your help.

Call me from Jackson. Don't thank me.

I have not done you a favor.

Did he do it?

Oh, he did it. There's no question that he did it.

Your attention please.

The Mississippi Scenic Cruiser for downtown Jackson is now boarding in the blue zone.

Good afternoon, sir. Good to see you, sir. Thanks.

You look like a mendicant Indian.

Where is your luggage? Jesse, help Mr. Hall with...

You know, actually, I'm gonna stay at a hotel near the courts.

I'm gonna be up all night, working long hours, so...

Uh-huh. Oh, well, honey. Whatever you like. I love you, you hear?

Now you go freshen up and hurry down.

I have the mothers of the only 12 remaining virgins in all of Jackson just panting to meet you.

I really don't think I'm gonna have too much time for socializing.

You must regale us all with tales of what it is that brings you here.

I'm guessing it's to use your lawyerly charms to separate our local fat cats from their ill-gotten fortunes.

You should start with my cranky old husband.

He deserves a good comeuppance.

Lee. Yes.

I'm here to defend your father.

Look, I understand that...

You understand nothing.

Don't you utter one word to anyone.

Lee. Not one word.

You hear?

Good night. Call me tomorrow.

I will. All right. Bye.

Lovely party, dear. Oh, thank you.

Don't forget we have the museum on Thursday.


Good night, Adam.

Good night.

Good luck.

Phelps lives in town. Oh, it's okay.

We have a very active romantic life.

Just not with each other.

Why stay married?

Good for a banker to have someone acceptable for social occasions.

And it's good for you to have a banker.

Done pretty well for poor white trash.

Don't you think?

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Of course, how acceptable I'm gonna be when the world finds out I'm Hitler's daughter is another question.

It's all right. It's under control.

Nobody knows?

Well, I was speaking of my drinking.

But, no. No one knows.

I left home when I was 18, changed my name, met Phelps, eloped.

We told his family my father was dead.

Soon that won't be a lie.

You talk about Sam like he means nothing to you.

Well, occasionally, if I'm having a good day and the sun is shining, I might think of him and remember some small, pleasant moment from my earliest days.

The way he'd call me sweet baby girl.

But mostly I remember how he destroyed absolutely everyone who made the mistake of getting close to him.

He'll do it to you, too, you know.

Be very careful dredging the past, Adam.

You might not like what comes up.

I'm here to see Sam Cayhall.



Spread your legs, please.

Sergeant Packer. Adam Hall.

This way, please.

Not a good day to see Sam. Why is that?

Prison attorney just called. Judge ruled. He dies in 28 days.

I'll get Sam.

This way.

Catch up.

I'm gonna lock this door. Sam'll be in in a minute.


Move on.

Get out.

Who the hell are you?

Adam Hall. I'm a lawyer with Kravitz and Bane, Chicago.

You Jew boys never quit, do you?

I'm not Jewish.

How can you work for Kravitz and Bane?

Well, we're an equal opportunity employer.


I know you got about 150 partners up there.

How many of them are women?

I don't really know. Maybe a dozen.

Oh, so you got less than 10% women.

How many nigger partners you got?

We have four African-American partners.

Well, that's nice.

How many Jewish-American partners you got?

About 80%?

You know, I don't really know. It doesn't make a difference to me.

Well, it makes a big difference to me.

I was always embarrassed to be represented by such blatant bigots.

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people would probably find it appropriate.

Why are you so nervous?

I'm not nervous.

You afraid I'm gonna come through that screen and get you?

How many death penalty cases have you handled?

This is my first.

Oh, great. The Jew bastards sent a greenhorn to save me.

I killed some of their people, and now they wanna kill me.

I always expected it.

So you admit that you killed the Kramer kids?

Who the hell are you to ask me a question like that?

The jury said I did it.

The appeals court said the jury was right. That's all that matters.

How old are you, there, Mr. Hall?


I'd like to go over your legal position...

Born in '69. That's correct.

Looking at your legal position, I've come up with...

Where? In Memphis.

Listen, I'd prefer to stick to the...

You grew up there, did you?

I grew up in a lot of places, mainly southern California.

Mmm-hmm. Your family still there?

My mom's remarried, and she lives in Portland.

And your sister.

I believe her name would be Carmen.

College. Berkeley.

How did you know?

The voice. You sound just like your daddy.

Why'd you come here?

He sent me.

I don't have a choice.

But I am gonna save you.

Save me? Yeah.

This from the son of a man that blew his own brains out?

Go to hell, you little piece of shit.

You know who you're talking to? Save me?

Why, shit. You don't look like you could save a turkey from Thanksgiving.

Go on, get the hell out of here.

Try to save your own sorry ass.

I am the only person on this earth that gives a damn whether you live or die.

Now, you are gonna sign this contract agreeing to be my client, or you will be dead in 28 days.

We're all a bit taken aback at how huge this case has suddenly become.

Uh... What's so huge about it?

Oh, I know the Clarion-Ledger is not the Chicago Tribune, but in our small pond, it's everything.

Uh... I'm lost.

Certainly you've seen today's paper.

Thanks very much. This'll be just fine.

You let us know if we can do anything more for you.

Why do you want the right to terminate my representation without a fight?

It took me a long time to fire those Jew bastards last time.

I won't go through that again.

All right, that's reasonable.

I don't care if you think it's reasonable or not.

It's in the agreement, and it's nonnegotiable.

Moving right along.

Well, this is ridiculous. "No clemency."

Okay. If the appeals process fails, we're gonna have to go to Governor McAllister as a last resort, so to preclude clemency at that point would be suicidal.

If I could take David McAllister into the chamber with me, I'd die with a smile.

I was tried. I was retried. I got a hung jury both times.

I was free. I was a free man for 12 years.

And then that sleazy son of a bitch McAllister used me to get hisself elected.

No deals with the Governor.


All right. Why did you become a Klansman?

Because my daddy was in the Klan.

Why did your daddy become a Klansman?

His daddy was in the Klan.

Great. We got three generations, huh?

No. Four.

Colonel Jacob Cayhall fought with Nathan Bedford Forrest in the war.

And family legend has it that he was one of the first members of the Klan.

So let me see. I guess that'd make him your great-great- great-granddaddy.

Do you expect me to feel proud about that?

I don't give a damn how you feel.

I'm just telling you who you are.

Isn't that why you're here?

All right, the Kramer twins was the fifth bombing.

What about the real estate office in Jackson?

Well, I lost my virginity on that one.

It was a crude little thing with just some sticks and a fuse.

The newspaper office?

A real fireball.

The Hirsch Temple? Best one yet.

The Kramer office?

It was a good bomb. But I never meant to kill anybody.


You bombed the Pinder house at 4:00 in the morning and there were six people sleeping there.

But nobody got hurt, 'cause I planted the bomb in the garage.

I don't make fancy bombs. They're just simple little things.

But I know where to put them.

Like I told you, I never meant to kill anybody.

And the twins?

Casualties of war.

The father losing his legs? Killing himself?

I don't wanna talk about this.

Are you hiding something from me? I wouldn't advise it.

I got nothing to hide.

I did what I had to do. The Klan was at war.

We would've won, too, but we started bombing the Jews, and with all their money, they got the FBI, and they beat us.

We should've just stayed to whipping up on the niggers.

The world would've been a different place.

Yeah, you can pretend you're all offended by this.

But deep down inside, we both know that there's a part of you agrees with me.

That's bullshit.

Why you getting so touchy? What're you hiding?

I'm not hiding a thing.

Like hell you're not.

You're driving your car and some drunk jungle bunny cuts you off, his ghetto music blasting.

What do you think?

"Why you darn African-American." No.

You think, "Nigger."

If you had any guts, you'd say so.

I'm gonna come back tomorrow.

I hurt your little feelings, have I? Huh?

What'd you expect to find here? Ol' Grandpa Do-Good?

Expect me to go all blubbery and kiss your behind and sing psalms of forgiveness?

I don't know what I expected.

Sure, you did, Grandson.

Hi. I'm Nora Stark, Attorney Hall.

I kind of clean up after Governor McAllister.

Adam, please.

Well, Adam it shall be.

I'm very curious, Adam.

Are you aware that the identical points raised in the pending ineffective counsel petition were turned down by Texas just last month?

Actually, I am. It's my opinion, though, that Texas is miles ahead of Mississippi in many things, including stupidity.

I'm optimistic. Morning, counsel.

Good morning, Your Honor. Good morning.

This is serious business.

Ultimate, irreversible punishment of a fellow human.

And time is the purest gold. When do you plan to file an appeal?

Oddly, I had planned on waiting for the court to issue a ruling before appealing it, Your Honor.

However, if, as expected, Thursday.

And the state's response? We agree.

Assuming young counsel opposite will not be introducing additional issues on this appeal. Obviously not.

Friday morning.

You'll have my decision Friday.

Can the court expect additional filings?

Are you asking me my legal strategy, Your Honor?

Not at all, sir.

But I'm thrilled to know you have one.

You're all dismissed. Now.

Adam. Clemency?

I'm contractually bound not to ask. You haven't.

But you will. You see, the Governor's a very open minded man.

He's not precluding anything.

You becoming a lawyer must've made Sam proud.

Well, Governor, you of all people should be familiar with his view of the profession.

However, I'd just as soon keep this discussion on the issue and, as agreed, off the record.

I understand you're reconsidering the state-sanctioned murder of my client.

Adam, would you mind?

No, sir.

Adam, I obviously worked very hard and am extremely proud to have won a conviction where two previous prosecutors have failed.

However, while I have no doubt Sam Cayhall is guilty as charged, I have always found it very difficult to believe he acted alone.

And as you know, he's never been inclined to help himself in that regard.

What exactly are you saying? Is there something specific you know about?

No. Certainly not.

I just wanna make sure justice is served.

I see.

So if I should somehow learn...

Adam, I take my power to decide whether a fellow human should live or die very seriously.

Now, if I could somehow be convinced your client felt the same way...

I'm sorry to rush. Nora, please help out Mr. Hall in every way we can.

It was lovely to meet you.

Nice to meet you.

Let me guess. You're not convinced he's sincere.

Allow me a touch of healthy skepticism.

But of course.

However, off the record and on the issue, you've been given the opportunity to provide the Governor with cover.

Love politics.

Because if he stays the execution without a reason, he looks to the left like a friend of the old guard.

He looks to the right like he's soft on crime.

And given it was he who personally won the conviction in the first place, he looks to the world like a big flip-flop.

But if I come up with new information, it gives him an excuse to follow his conscience.

Let's just say it expands his options.

So to facilitate that, you've been assigned my new best friend.

Something like that.

Well, pal, I plan on winning this one in the courts.

Even better. It's not getting to the Governor.

Now you're talking. If you need any help at all, that's home, that's office.

Call me.

I found this in my motel room last night.

"Welcome to Dixie. Please try and leave everything as you found it."

Sounds like good manners to me.

It was attached to the timer of a fake bomb.


What do you think I should do about it?

I don't give a damn what you do about it.

Right now I'm thinking about how that gas they're gonna force me to sniff makes your lungs explode and come flying out your mouth.

What motions you planning to file?

We're gonna pursue cruel and unusual.

Three years at Michigan Law, and that sorry idea's the best you got?

In 1984, the Mississippi legislature passed a law changing the method of execution from the gas chamber to lethal injection.

And that law only applies to folks sentenced after 1984.

I was sent up here in 1980.

Now, what the hell's your point?

I see that you're up on the law, aren't you?

I read all the decisions by all the dead judges. Same as you.

I write some writs for guys on the row.

You gotten any stays yet?

Then I ask you to keep your matchbook law school advice to yourself, and let me do my job.

By changing to lethal injection, a more humane method, the state admitted de facto that the gas chamber is a cruel method of execution.

May I remind counsel, speaking as the gasee, I'll be just as dead one way as the other?

Sooner or later, yeah. But I'll take later as a win.

I'm bursting with confidence! I been losing better appeals than this for 16 years.

I feel like those white guys who always lose to the nigger Globetrotters.

You know, why didn't my dad get infected with this crap?

We're gonna have our Eddie talk now, huh? Is that it? I'd be careful.

Well, you destroyed him. I mean, you must feel pretty good about that.

I destroyed nothing. He never tried to understand the Klan.

We were right.

Oh, you still think you were right?

Look what you got now: AIDS and drugs and bastard children.

Killer bees?

Well, they come from Africa, don't they?

South America. But that's probably close enough for you.

Why're you doing this?

'Cause my life would be a lot easier if I could just hate you.

But you can't, can you? 'Cause I'm just too lovable.

Well, I'm working on it.

Christ, your father kills himself in front of you when you're 10 years old, and then you go to the funeral and find out Grandpa's still alive.

Great! Except for the fact that he's a racist, scumbag baby-killer!

Why is that not comforting?

Oh, stop. You're breaking my heart.

It was your hate that drove him away, wasn't it?

Eddie was weak.

I never laid a hand on him.

Never got after him.

Never cared who his friends were. Not even Quince.


Quince Lincoln, a nigger kid Eddie used to play with.

Wait a second. I've heard that name before.

It don't mean nothing.

No, no. Quince Lincoln. He used to mention that name.

He'd have these spells.

He'd be in his room for two, three days at a time...

Sergeant Packer!...He'd start mumbling some story, and it was about Quince Lincoln.

I just thought he made it up. It don't mean nothing. Shut up about it.

No. Who's Quince...

It don't mean nothing! Shut up about it!

Let's go, Sam.

Come on.

Yeah. Were you asleep?

No, I'm up.

Don't ask me how I know, but the court's going to reject ineffective counsel.

Yeah, I expected that.

Well, I'll be ready to file the appeal in New Orleans the minute the court here rules.

I'll expect your first draft in the morning. Good night.




Does the offer to help still stand?


I need to track down the FBI agent who was in charge of Sam's case.

Sam was of no concern to us, you understand?

He wasn't active in the really nasty stuff, so we weren't keeping close track of him.

When did that change?

When the civil rights workers disappeared, Hoover sent us in with a fury.

We spread money all over the place.

Those people were basically just ignorant rednecks, you know. Didn't have a dime.

So we preyed on their craving for money.


Go on.

Hey. There's some things I can talk about and there's some things I can't talk about.

And there's some things I won't talk about, because I don't like you lawyers twisting the truth, getting killers off on some legal technicality.

That's bullshit.

Besides, it's too late for new information, kid.

The courts won't hear it. You know that.

The courts don't have the final say in this case.

Besides, you say he wasn't involved in the really nasty stuff.

I mean, there's no way he meant to kill.

Of course he meant to kill.

Marvin Kramer was a creature of habit.

He was in that office every morning before 8:00.

The bomb went off straight up at 8:00.

The timer was set for 8:00.

That was never introduced at trial.

Hey, I can't help it if the damn lawyers didn't make use of it.

It was in our report.

Well, I'd like to see that report.

Well, I can't help you there, pal. I'm just a fisherman now, who'd just as soon see him gassed.

I've been around those violent assholes all my life.

Let them taste the other end of violence.

See how brave they are without their hoods.

You know what I'm talking about.

Why would our FBI friend not want to tell us something about a 30-year-old case?

'Cause you're in Mississippi now. Land of the secrets.

There are bodies buried everywhere.

But no one's trying to hide anything about Sam.

They don't have to. He did it.

They just don't want you sifting through the ashes, 'cause they're not sure what else you might turn up.

Who is "they"?


No one. What difference does it make?

Well, maybe a lot.

I mean, take you, for instance.

Are you really here to help me?

Or did they assign you to spy on me?

You ever heard of the Sovereignty Commission?


Well, it doesn't exist anymore.

They started it in the '50s.

It was an official state agency dedicated to states' rights, i.e. fighting civil rights.

Some people think it was actually coordinating all of the white citizens' councils.

What were those?

Every town had one.

A local group of respectable white people.

Professional types, pillars of their community, who told the Klan what to do.

So somebody like Sam wasn't even making decisions.

Like our FBI friend said, they were poor, uneducated bigots who couldn't find their butts with a map.

The citizens' councils used them to do their dirty work.

And the Sovereignty Commission?

They kept the records.

Sam, please sign this.

I ain't signing nothing.

The files are sealed by the state legislature.

Now, as a defendant on death row, you and only you can apply to have your files opened.

You're set to die in 20 days, all right. This might help.

Help him, maybe. Not me. Help who?

The Governor, you dumb ass. Can't you see it?

He can't open the files hisself, so he gets you to do it for him.

Why? To help me?

He put me here.

Nah. He's just fishing for what every politician wants, dirt on their enemies.

What's in those files, Sam?

Nothing for you. No, it's just stuff they'd use to twist around and hurt my people.

I'm your people.

Don't you get it? I am.

You ain't my real people. You ain't never met my real people.

I don't know how they got the story.

It's only a matter of time before they get around to me.

Well, I am sorry. But, listen, I think I might be onto something.

I'm following some leads from way back.

For God's sake, Adam, leave it alone.

Lee, I really think I can save him.

Ever occur to you he might not be worth saving?

You can't mean that. All right, Adam.

You wanna know about the past?

I'll tell you about the past.

This was my tree.

My own laurel tree.

I was up there.

Your father was there, with Quince.

They were eight. Maybe they were nine.

And they were best friends.

They were fighting and kicking, and they made so much noise Daddy heard and come out to see what all the ruckus was.

You hear me? Go on. Go on.

Get on home!

Quince's father did day work for Daddy.

His name was Joe.

Daddy never was very handy, you know, with mechanical things, so Joe fixed things for us. He made things.

He was here all the time.

So then Quince came back with his father.

My boy, Quince, said you been beating on him.

They fought so hard. Like animals.

At one point, Daddy grabbed the rake.

And things got out of hand.

He knocked Joe over. Joe fell to the ground.

And he yelled for Quince to run and get his shotgun.

Quince, go get my shotgun!

Sam told Eddie to go get his. Eddie froze.

But Daddy made him go.

Joe was here.

Daddy was there.

Get in the house. Go on.

Joe waited for his gun.

He kept looking around.

Sam had his.

And then my dear, sweet father...

This was Mississippi in the early '50s.

Daddy said self-defense.

He was never even so much as arrested.

What were my dad and Quince fighting about?

A toy soldier.

Eddie thought Quince had stolen it.

That night he found it under his bed.

He took the weight of the world on his shoulders.

And then he said.

I had killed Joe Lincoln, too.

He said if I had cried out for Daddy to stop, no way would he have fired.

Not with his sweet baby girl watching.

Of course, he was right.

It was my fault, too.

It's mine!

Making so much noise Daddy heard.

Get on home!

Quince! Quince!

Help me, Quince.

Get my shotgun!

Daddy never was very handy, you know, with mechanical things.


The superintendent asked if you've been thinking about your last meal.

Special requests can take time.

Yeah, I want a bowl of Eskimo Pies and French Market coffee.

It shall be done.

There's been five executions since you been here, Sam.

You know anything about any problems with any of them?

Come on.

They all died within 50 feet of me.

Everybody on the row knows everything about every killing.

Tell me about Teddy Meeks, then.

I want to hear every detail.

They didn't know what they were doing.

Everything went wrong.

Have you seen the chamber?

Not yet.

Well, there's a little room off to one side where the executioner goes to mix up his solution of sulfuric acid.

With Meeks, the executioner was drunk.

Come on.

He was drunk.


His first batch of brew didn't work.

And Meeks held his breath for as long as he could.

Then he inhaled and nothing happened.

So they waited.

Meeks waited. The witnesses waited.

And slowly, they turned toward the executioner, who's waiting and cussing.

He finally goes back to his little room and he mixes up another batch of sulfuric acid and pulls the lever.

This time the sulfuric acid drops down where it's supposed to.

Pulls the second lever, dropping the cyanide pellets.

Sure enough, this gas starts drifting upward to where old Teddy is holding his breath again.

So finally he sucks in a whole nose full of it and starts shaking and jerking.

Well, for some reason or other there's a metal pole that runs from the top of the chamber down to the bottom, and it's right directly behind the chair.


And just about the time Meeks got real still and everybody thought he was dead, his head starts banging back and forth against that pole.

Just beating the hell out of it like that.

His eyes rolled up in his head, and his lips opened up real wide.

And he was foaming at the mouth.

And there he was, just banging the back of his head against that pole.

It was sick.

How long did it take them to kill him?

According to the prison doctor, death was instant and painless.

Packer told me it was the longest five minutes of his life.

The guy convulsed and heaved and pounded his skull for so long that pieces of his brain was flying out the top of his head.

How does this lever they pull activate the cyanide canister?


The lever. Does it work with hinges or springs? How does it work?

I don't know.

Well, is it just gravity that's forcing it down?

Well, how in the hell would I know that?

Just thought you had an aptitude for this sort of thing.

Well, sue me. I'm not mechanical.

That's what Lee said.

But you were handy enough to build a bomb to kill the Kramer twins.

Son of a bitch. Is that what this is all about?

You must've stayed up all night thinking of this one.

Sorry, bubba. I hate to disappoint you, but bombs ain't that complicated.

Well, they couldn't be that easy.

I wouldn't know how to do it.

That's 'cause you're not motivated.

By the time I did Kramer, I had it down real simple.

So you expect me to believe that just because you're an anti-Semite, you know how to build a bomb, strategically place it on the second story of a building, light a fuse and then get out of there without any risk to yourself?

Plenty of risk. Not much glory.

And it was the first floor. The bomb went off below them. Check the FBI report.

I did. What did it say?

Bomb went off below them.

Thank you very much. Anything else I can help you with?

How long was the fuse?

For Pete's sake.

You know, it happened a long time ago. I'm an old man.

My memory isn't that perfect. Get off my back, here. Will you?

Oh, I'm sure you can remember killing two little children.

Long enough for me to get the hell out of there. Okay?

Except for one thing. The bomb didn't have a fuse. It had a timer.

What are you saying?

I'm saying you weren't alone. There was somebody else.

There's not a chance in hell you could have built a timing device by yourself.

The FBI, they searched your house, your garage, your premises.

They didn't find a single trace of explosives anywhere.

Well, maybe they're stupid.

Maybe I was just real careful and didn't leave a trail.

Yeah. And maybe someone else planted the bomb.

You have no idea what you're doing.

Just hear me out.

Sam couldn't construct a timer if he wanted to.

His bombs were simple, crude little things. They had fuses.

This one was different. It was complex for back then.

It was timed. It was timed to kill.

Okay. Wait a minute.

Sam did not plant that bomb. He did not kill those kids.


If the Sovereignty Commission has a file on Sam, it might also tell us who else was involved, who was pulling the strings, making decisions!

Adam, just stop this. Okay?

Those files are sealed by the state legislature.

If your client won't sign, you cannot move the court to unseal them.

I bet you know a way we could take a peek at them.


You said you wanted to help me. I am helping you.

Well, maybe you need to do more.

Well, maybe I can't do more.

Nora, if there's others, and you're involved in protecting them...

Are you threatening me?

I am pursuing the truth by any means necessary!

Which includes politely asking for your help.

In addition to appealing cruel and unusual, I wanna file a new motion.

About time you focused on the law, bubba.

I never stopped focusing on the law, bubba!

But there is nothing that I will not pursue in order to get a stay, including proving that you're insane.

I'm insane? That's right.

I'm gonna argue that as a product of three generations of Klan mentality, your preconscious indoctrination into a world of hate and distortion born of irrational fear has resulted in diminished mental capacity to determine right from wrong.

Oh. You're gonna argue I'm insane because I held different political beliefs than you and your father and this naive, nigger-loving, bleeding-heart bullshit!

Well, I probably won't use those exact words in my brief.

I'll just wait and see the psychiatrist's report.

Oh, I'm gonna see a psychiatrist, am I?

That's right.

Hmm. That's insane.

Killing two 5-year-olds 'cause their father was working for civil rights is insane.

Never meant to kill those kids.

Well, that's fine. But it just happens to be the crime which you're scheduled to be executed for in exactly 14 days.



I need to go over some more family background with you.

I got some stuff from Lee, but there's a lot of holes in it.

She's going through a tough time right now.

I tried to call her when I saw this, but she didn't answer.

I think she's drinking again.

Did you know she's an alcoholic?

Have you ever felt feelings of remorse for any of your crimes?


Have you ever apologized to your victims' family?

No, what would be the point?

What do you think would be the point?

No point.


I want you to know that when I talk about your people, I...


I hear you, Sam.

In your professional opinion, then, does Sam Cayhall have anything that might even remotely be called a conscience?

I found no evidence of one.

Dr. Biddows, in your opinion, is Sam Cayhall in touch with reality?

No, he is not.

Thank you, Dr. Biddows.

No further questions, Your Honor.

What saith the state?

The state calls Sergeant Clyde Packer.

Sergeant Packer, would you inform this court how long you have held your present position, please?

Been running the row for 15 years, sir, and Sam's been with me the whole time.

And during this time, have you ever observed Mr. Cayhall demonstrate he might have a conscience?

Cared about other people's feelings?

Oh, yes, sir.

Everybody knows that Sam has a real bad attitude toward black folk.

But just the other night he told me to my face, when he says stuff like that...

Let's just say he tried to apologize.

And he didn't even get it all out.

And it sure don't make him no saint, but for Sam, that's a big deal.

He most certainly do has a conscience. Yes, sir.

And during all this time that you been observing Mr. Cayhall so closely, would you say he knows what's going on around him?

Would you say he's out of touch with reality?

A couple of nights back, I was walking past, and he said, "Clyde."

He never called me that before, so I knew it was important.

Could I help? "With what, Sam?"

And he said, "I wanna die alone."

"And I wanna die in decent clothes."

"I wanna eat an Eskimo Pie."

"And could I see a sunrise?"

I said, "Last one's on me, Sam."

So I snuck him out, gave him a hour alone.

I watched through the inside.

I thought he might lose it once the sun started coming.

See, it's been 15 or 16 years since Sam last saw dawn break.

But he held together just fine.

In your opinion, based on your observations, is Sam Cayhall in touch with reality?

Sam? You betcha.

Thank you, Sergeant Packer.

Thank you.

Tender the witness, Your Honor.

What's happening in the Fifth Circuit?

Thumbs down on insanity later today. Hi.

Hi. There you are.

What's young Mr. Hall been up to?

No change.

Try again. What has he been working on?

He's looking everywhere for new information.

What kind of information?



You're not sleeping with him, are you?


Then what kind of information?

Anything, everything. He's desperate.

Where is he looking?

I don't know. Well, find out.

Desperate people are dangerous.

Maybe you ought to be sleeping with him.


Can we talk?



The Sovereignty Commission files, the originals, under lock and key in the Hall of Records.

Why can't zoning reports wait for tomorrow?

You ask the Governor. I like my job. Nora.

Nora, Nora.

It's you that I'm scared of.

Bink, please. I've gotta get this done tonight.

I'll lock up for you.

Our little secret.

You and me.

Have a good evening.


This way.

Sovereignty Commissions.

"White Citizen's Council, Indianola."

Go back.

"M.K. situation should be followed through."

Marvin Kramer.

Or Martin King.

"Law office, March 18." It's Marvin Kramer.

When was the bombing?

April 28.

"Action agreed September 2." I thought you said it was in April.

That's not a date. That's nine to two.

Jesus Christ, they took a vote. Oh, my God.

"Commission assigned S.C."

Sam Cayhall. What's R.W.?

You mean, who's R.W.

Hi. Thanks.

Truth time, Sam. Five days.

We're firing everything we have up to the Supreme Court, but.

I need to know who R.W. is.

Sam, I saw the Commission's files.

You were with someone named R.W.

The two of you were assigned to bomb the Kramer office.

Assigned by the same people who took no responsibility for the death of those kids and, as far as I can see, are gonna take no responsibility for what's about to happen to you.

I believe you call these people cowards.

Why in God's name you feel compelled to protect them is beyond me.

First of all, you sniveling little son of a bitch, if you ever speak to me like this again, I'll rip your heart out and shove it up your butt.

Second, if you spent half as much time learning to be a lawyer instead of playing Dick Tracy, I might stand a chance of not being dead in five days.

As it stands right now, everything you tried has failed.

You've failed!

Now I have to pay the price.

You're a failure! Just like your pathetic father was.

That son of a bitch didn't have the balls to live.

He was a loser and a quitter.

And he just gave his life away.

How dare he?

What right did he have to do that?

It wasn't his to give! I gave it to him! Hey, hey, Sam!

His mama gave it to him! It was God's!

He had no right! He just gave it away, God damn it!

He gave it away! You hear me? He gave it away!

Why'd he do that? Come on.

He gave it away!

Hi. Is she home?

Miss Lee's upstairs resting. She can't see you now.


Where are you, Lee?




Oh, Jesus.

Lucky little nephew.

Did I ever show you my favorite old family picture?

Come on.

I'm coming.

I never kept an actual photo album.

Mostly because I never kept any actual photos.

Here. Come here.

Here. Now, there.


He was a cute little thing, wasn't he?

The problem is he was raised to be a monster.

Trained from birth.

We come from a long line of hate, Adam.

That's why I drink.

Make it all go away.

Now you're here, and it won't go away anymore.

Go home.

I've got three things to say to you.

Number one. I'm your lawyer until you fire me.

I'm not quitting. Number two.

The day you killed Joe Lincoln, your sweet little 7-year-old daughter was in the laurel tree.

She watched her daddy murder a defenseless man in cold blood.

And three. Quince Lincoln never stole a thing.

My father found that toy soldier underneath his bed, but he was too terrified to tell you.

He had to live with that for the rest of his sad life.

Maybe you didn't have the balls to put a stop to this, Sam. But I do.

It ends with me. We got four days left.

This is our last appeal, and it's called mitigating circumstances.

Talk to me.

Talk to me, Sam!

I'm tired of talking.

I'm tired of waking up every morning knowing I'm one day closer to dying.

I'm tired of living in a cage, tired of these crappy cigarettes, just praying I'll die of cancer before they gas me.

But mostly I'm just tired of waiting.

Just let me rest.

I'm really touched you feel close enough to share your feelings with me, Sam.

But at the moment, I don't really give a damn.

I'm too busy trying to win my case.

Now, start talking!

Here are some synonyms for "mitigating."

"Glossing over, sugarcoating,"


There's nothing pretty about twin boys being blown to bits.

There's no glossing over the suicide of their father.

And there's no sugarcoating this fact.

My client is guilty, and he deserves to be punished.

"Mens rea, to do the thing."

Sam Cayhall did the thing.

But he does not deserve to be murdered, because he was taught from birth that he had to do the thing.

That is what this court must come to understand.

He never knew he had any other recourse but hatred and bigotry and violence.

His uncles were Klansmen, his brothers were Klansmen, his father was a Klansman, even his grandfather.

His great-grandfather was one of the cofounding members of that hateful organization.

I recently saw a photograph of him at a lynching.

He was 10, and it was his third.

Of course this is awful. It's evil.

But blood and death were served with Sunday breakfast.

His father was murdered at a funeral. My client saw it.

As the court is no doubt aware, my client is also my grandfather.

I'd like now to tell you some warm and wonderful stories about our family.

Except I don't know any.

In fact, I don't find my grandfather even remotely wonderful.

But I know this.

The very things that make him so monstrous are the very reasons that mitigate against this state murdering him.

He was raised by his family and by this state to become the man that he became.

By the time he was old enough to choose, he didn't have a choice.

This is the tragedy of Sam Cayhall.

It's a tragedy that has destroyed three lives already.

In the name of mercy, let it not murder what little is left of his life.

Thank you for seeing me like this.

Why are you here?

I'm hoping you'll ask the Governor to show some mercy.

Tell him that you don't want my client to die.

I don't want him to die.

I don't want him to. But I fear he must.

See, that's not true. It isn't.

Your word would carry a lot of weight with the Governor, and no one knows more than you that there's already been enough suffering.

It could all end right here. Right now.

I didn't take them to nursery school that morning because I was sick.

So I waved goodbye from my bedroom window and watched them leapfrog off to their death.

Bye, Mommy! I love you!

You see, the whole thing was my fault.

Be good!

Adam. Ma'am?

Why are you really here?

I came home one day and found my father on the floor in my bedroom with a gun in his hand.

And I remember wondering, "What are all those towels doing there?"

And then I realized that he had arranged the towels in a circle and then very carefully laid down in the center of them so that he wouldn't make a mess.

In his note, he said that he loved me, and he was sorry, and he hoped that one day I'd understand.

He told me I'd have to take care of my mom and my sister.

There was a plastic garbage bag that was also on the floor next to him, and I was supposed to put the towels in the bag, clean up the mess and call the police.

"Don't touch the gun," he said.

"Hurry up before the girls get home."

See, he had picked a day when he knew I'd be the first one home.

I was 10.

I would dearly love to help you, Adam.

Please know this.

Sam Cayhall destroyed both our families.

Mine just died first.

And I'm sorry, but he has to die.


He has to die because I had champagne at my birthday party.

He has to die because a story needs an ending.

He has to die because I don't care if he had no choice.

He chose to bomb that building.

And my family died.

You know, they were your age then.

And they would've been your age now.

Haven't given up, have you?

Sometimes I just like to see if I still have what it takes.

Jesus. What are you doing here?

I've been watching you, kid.

You deserve the facts.

Back in '67, I found an old drunk. He was a dishwasher.

Claimed the night before the Kramer bombing, he saw Sam in a diner with another guy.

I need a name.

The description matched a guy that we always suspected, but...


Hey! Rollie Wedge.

He was a real hater. But smart.

And we could never tie him to anything.

Where is he now?

They've gathered.

You know, sort of like a reunion.

The night before the big execution and all that.

I figure, if he's here, he's there.

Slapped the hell out of him.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass...


He wasn't able to make it.

Outside! Get off of me! Shut up!

Come on. Get him out of here.

Go on, fucker!

Get out of here! Yeah!


Get away from that boy.

Let's git!

Thank you. Oh, God.

Thank you.

I appreciate it.

You do?

Rollie Wedge.

One of the many names I've been called.

What do you think you're doing here?

You planted the bomb that killed those kids.

Were you planning a citizen's arrest?

I just want to hear you admit it.

Delusion, Mr. Hall. You're looking for a clean yes, so you can identify, quantify, organize the concept of evil.

If I did it, then I'm the evil, and I can be culled from the flock.

Removed, separated, destroyed.

Evil can be destroyed.

And all you good people can feel safe in the cocoon of your denial.

Sam says you're his people.

We are one.

Is this how you treat your people?


Let them take the fall for you?

What about loyalty? Huh? What about the truth?

The truth, based on your laws, Attorney Hall, is that Sam Cayhall is guilty and has been sentenced to death.

Perhaps it's time for you to show some loyalty, and let justice be served.

And after it is, always look behind you.


He's probably still there. Uh-huh.


Look, if Sam were being tried as an accomplice right now the most he would get is 20 years.

Now, you said you wanted new information.

With all due respect, this is hardly compelling evidence of anything.

Grant a stay. Give me more time.

All right, men. Listen up. It's now 0800 hours.

I'm hereby activating the emergency operations center and placing this institution on lockdown status.

And I expect each of you to discharge your duty accordingly.

No second-guessing, no improvising.

This execution will take place in 16 hours.

What you did to those babies

no one could ever forgive you for.

But what you did to me

and Eddie,

I've got to.

Not for you, old man.

For me.

Eddie said

you'd never have shot Joe Lincoln

if I'd have cried out for you not to.

Is that why you came here?


Would you still have shot him?

Yeah. Yeah.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Sam Cayhall's last appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court will rule later today on his fate.

If they deny, Governor David McAllister will be his last chance.

The execution is set for 12:01 tomorrow morning.

Stephanie Bell Flynt, WLBT News.

You got a light, yeah?


Met some of your real people last night.

Real interesting group, your real people.

Especially Rollie Wedge.

Rollie Wedge.

He was real interesting.

I have to talk to the guards.

Rack out Sam.

You look a lot like your brother, Mr. Cayhall.

I came to pay my respects, Sam.

Say goodbye.

Make sure you're still strong.

I saw those two little kids.

They was in the window.

That was a mistake.

We kept two little Jews from growing up into big Jews.

When their nigger-loving father killed hisself, it was like dropping a little hook-nosed pebble in a pond.

The ripples went out with a message for all the world to see.

A Jew is weak.

How do you figure that for a mistake?

Wasn't supposed to be no killing.

Don't go soft, Sam.

The day is coming.

I wish you could stick around to see it, buddy. It's coming.

Every day more and more people are opening their eyes to see the only thing wrong with this country is we've gone against the laws of nature.

God's law.

Only the strong have a right to survive.

And now, finally, those not worthy, the Jew, the African, he who lies with another man, they're all digging their own graves.

And when we pile them in there, I'll drink a toast to you, Sam.

And I'll piss it out on their dead faces.


You've been a good and loyal soldier, Sam.

Go with the dignity that is yours.

Don't be confused by that little boy!

He's got his daddy's weak blood in him.

He ain't pure. He ain't us.

No. You son of a bitch, you. You son of a bitch.

I ain't you. I ain't you!

You touch my kid, and I'm gonna kill you!

Rip your head off! I'll kill you, you goddamn son of a bitch.

You know who this is?

Your brother.

Oh, no, he ain't my brother! You ain't my brother!

Better get out of here.

I'll be praying for you, Sam.

You go to hell, you son of a bitch, you! Go to hell!

I'll be praying for you.

Rack Sam.

No word from the courts.

I'd like you to mail these for me, if you would.

I don't have the addresses.

Don't give up, Sam.


There is one other thing.

Take that.

Rack Sam.

It's the Supreme Court.

Coffee's French Market, just like you asked.

Thank you.

Rack back.

Adam Hall.

Yeah. Okay.

It ain't over, Sam.

It ain't over.

The United States Supreme Court has denied a flurry of last-minute appeals on behalf of Sam Cayhall.

Gas his ass! Gas his ass!

Gas his ass! Gas his ass!

Hurry, hurry. Let's go. Here.

Go! Come on.

Cayhall signed the request.

Goodman's in court right now, asking to open up the Sovereignty Commission files.

What should we do? Do?

I don't recall being asked to do anything. Let's just see what's in there.

It suggests an accomplice to the Kramer bombing, for one.

Some far-right crazy named Rollie Wedge.

How the hell do you know that?

We'll discuss it later. Now, if you'll excuse us.

What were you saying?

I'm just saying I don't think it's gonna work, that's all.

There are other names. Some familiar.

Knowing in advance might be very useful.

It's the Governor, sir.

Hello, Governor. Senator.

Sam Cayhall's attorneys are trying to get some Sovereignty files released that you and some of your colleagues might not appreciate.

I got a proposition for y'all, but you have to act fast.

Can't go home if you're going by the mill

'Cause the bridge washed out at the bottom of the hill.

The big creek's up and the little creek's level.

Plow my corn with the double shovel.

Stay all night Stay a little longer.

Dance all night Dance a little longer.

These are for you, Cayhall.

I can offer you a sedative if you'd like.

All right.

Then you'd best start changing. I'll be back in 30 minutes.

Don't be late.

Pull off your coat Throw it in the corner.

Don't see why you don't stay a little longer.

Oh, the mule and the grasshopper eating ice cream.

Gas his ass! Gas his ass! Gas his ass! Gas his ass!

Rack up Cayhall.

It's all right.

Appeal's on the 28th, now, don't forget.

I left your papers with Barry in the law library.

Thanks, Sam.

Ladies and gentlemen, the governor of the great state of Mississippi, the honorable David Allen McAllister.

Tonight, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected all appeals filed on behalf of Sam Cayhall.

So at this moment of truth, I must face the terrible burden of this office that is mine and mine alone.

The question for me tonight is, who is David Allen McAllister to imagine in his finest hour... See you, J.B. he could ever prove wiser than the jury... See you soon, Sam.

And the 47 judges... Spit in their eye, Sam. Spit in their eye.

Who have reviewed this case... Praying for you, Sam.

Over the last 16 years? Hey, Sam.

The answer is clear. Remember, the Lord is with you.

In the matter of life and death, none among us are more knowing than our system of justice.

Tonight, however, information has come to us suggesting.

Mr. Cayhall may not have acted alone in this heinous crime.

Now, if these allegations prove to be true, rest assured, anyone found to be involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

However... Freeze! Hands up!

No matter how many additional people may be implicated in the future, it does not change a fundamental fact.

Sam Cayhall is guilty as charged, and Sam Cayhall must pay the price.

So it...

It is with the greatest humility that I bow in deference to that great lady, Justice.

At one minute past midnight, Sam Cayhall will meet his maker.

The final judgment will truly be his.

To the family of the victims, we say nothing can replace your great and terrible loss.

Revenge will never lessen the unfillable void left by those now gone.

We pray with you that God may grant us the strength and the courage to prevent crimes like this from ever again darkening our soil with the blood of the innocent.

Good night.

And God bless America.

Kid, don't. Don't try to save me anymore.

I know someplace inside of you, you're trying to stir up some kind of miracle.

We can't forget who Sam Cayhall is or the kind of thinking he represents.

I'm sure you haven't.

And the other names?

Very useful information.

It'll help us effect some real change next session.

Isn't that why we're doing this job?

All progress is a negotiation, Nora.

Of all the people and things I hated my whole life, the one I hated most was me.

I was given free entry into this world to make of it whatever I could.

Been sitting here for 16 years.

I was thinking I never did anybody any good.

Till you came down.

You see, if I'm gonna be proud of you, I gotta be proud of your daddy.

He wasn't weak. He was strong.

Strong enough to get away.

Strong enough to give you whatever it is that you got.

If he was able to give that to you, I reckon this old man must've passed on something good to him.

I didn't know that.

I'm ready.

You come on in. We been waiting for you.

You know where you're going?

Moving right along.

Come on, man!

What the fuck's going on?

Sam, this is your death warrant.

You know I'm required by law to read it to you.

"We, the jury, find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt

"the following aggravating circumstances.

"The capital murder was committed while the defendant was engaged

"in the commission of a felony.

"The capital murder was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.

"We, the jury, find unanimously, from the evidence

"and beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant,"

"Sam Cayhall, should be put to death"

"by lethal gas at the Mississippi State Penitentiary,."

"Parchman, Mississippi, the 13th day of April, 1996."

And no stays.

Is there any reason why this execution should not proceed?


Any final words, Mr. Cayhall?

Maybe the ghosts are gone, Lee.


Thank you, Adam