When Carl Lee Hailey guns down the hoodlums who have raped his ten-year-old child, the people of Clanton see it as a crime of blood and call for his acquittal. But when extremists outside Clanton hear that a black man has killed two white men, they invade the town, determined to destroy anything and anyone that opposes their sense of justice. Jake Brigance has been hired to defend Hailey. It's the kind of case that can make or break a young lawyer. But in the maelstrom of Clanton, it is also the kind of case that could get a young lawyer killed.