Entertainment has always consisted of law related movies. Legal movies are successful because of public interest in different types of legal cases and scenarios. An example of a successful legal movie is Presumed Innocent. The movie Presumed Innocent was produced in 1990. The movie stars Harrison Ford who plays Rusty Sabich, a prosecutor and right hand man of the district attorney Raymond Horgan. Rusty’s colleague Carolyn Polhemus is found dead in her apartment. She was said to be raped and murdered. Raymond puts Rusty in charge of her investigation.
It is later exposed that Rusty has a previous affair with Carolyn Polhemus but made up with his wife. Polhemus dumped Rusty. At this time of the investigation, Horgan is undergoing a political campaign in order to keep his job. It turns out that Horgan loses the election to Nico Della Guardia. Along with Della Guardia comes his deputy, Tommy Molto. Della Guardia and Molto prosecute Rusty for Carolyn’s murder because of his former affair with her. Sandy Stern becomes Rusty’s defense lawyer in the murder trial. The investigation by the defense team leads to the idea that Rusty was framed for Carolyn’s murder.
The person of interest for the framing is Molto who wanted Rusty’s job (O’Cain). Della Guardia and Molto immediately gather evidence against Rusty. They find a beer glass with Rusty’s fingerprints on it in Polhemus’ apartment. This piece of evidence causes a lot of controversy throughout the trial. It is revealed that the beer glass is missing from the evidence room. Rusty discovers that Polhemus acquired a bribery file (B file) from Horgan. There was a case involving a man named Leon who paid $1,500 to get his case thrown out of court. It turns out that Polhemus was the one who set up the bribe.
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Rusty and Stern’s defense is that Della Guardia and Molto set up Rusty as part of a cover-up of a bribery case involving Molto. Stern never allows Rusty to testify throughout the trial because it might lead the jury to think he is guilty. The trial ends with Judge Lyttle dismissing the case because of a lack of physical evidence. Rusty is not guilty for the rape and murder of Polhemus. At the end of the movie, Rusty finds a hammer in the basement with blood on it. His wife confesses to killing Polhemus. The legal issues in Presumed Innocent include conflict of interests.
Rusty faces a conflict of interest because he had an affair with Polhemus. They were once lovers and very intimate with each other. Then he becomes part of the case that is investigating her death. It was suspenseful while watching the trial knowing that Rusty and Polhemus had a secret affair that only Rusty and his wife knew about. If the news of this affair was brought out into the open the trial might not have been dismissed so easily. Because of the intimacy that Rusty and Polhemus shared at one point, there would be more suspicion towards him being charged for the rape and death.
When a defendant has this type of relationship with a victim usually there is more questioning of the ex-lover due to shared intimacy and possible attachment. Although it turns out that Rusty is not guilty of her death, it seems like he dodged some bullets as the previous affair was never taken into account. There could have been a lot more accusations if the affair was made public. Dismissing the case because of lack of physical evidence seems to be very realistic. It is understandable that without physical proof, Judge Lyttle is not able to make accurate rulings.
A part of the movie that was very impressive was basically the last hour when the trial began. The trial felt very serious and real. It was easy to follow the cross examinations and the lawyers were acted out very well. Another aspect of the movie that was impressive was the flashbacks to Rusty and Polhemus’ relationship. It was very interesting to see how their relationship was and how they acted in front of each other. At some points I had emotional connections to Polhemus and I genuinely felt bad about her death.
She seemed to be a hard worker and the way she treated the young boy testifying against his mother in the beginning of the movie was touching. She seemed to be very caring and she wanted what was best for the young boy. Watching her interact with him was the first time that I felt very sorry for her vicious death. Another impressive part about the movie is that there was constant suspense as to whether Rusty would be found guilty or not guilty. The trial keeps you curious and anxious to find out the results.
The relationships between all of the characters were also impressive especially Polhemus, Judge Lyttle, and Leon. It was shocking to find out that Polhemus set up the bribe for Leon and that Judge who took the money was actually the same Judge in Polhemus’ murder trial. The least impressive part of the movie was the way that it ended. It was clever to end the movie with Rusty’s wife confessing to the murder but personally, it seems that justice is not served for Polhemus. Polhemus’ murder went down as an unsolved case but now the viewer knows how it could be solved.
It is understandable that the movie ends with a twist but there is no justice for Polhemus. Rusty’s wife gets to be a free woman and bears no legal consequences for murdering Polhemus. His wife would always nag Rusty about his ongoing obsession with Polhemus even though she was dead. Although it is terrible to cheat on a partner, it is not acceptable for Rusty’s wife to kill Polhemus in response to the affair. Any sympathy that I had for Rusty’s wife was dismissed at the end of the movie. There are many positive and negative aspects of the legal system in this movie.
An example of a positive aspect acted out by the legal system illustrated in the movie is Judge Lyttle dismissing the case due to lack of clear evidence. It is common knowledge that there needs to be evident information to make a judgment but in the movie, Judge Lyttle may have dismissed the case very easily due to other factors. He was influenced by his participation in the missing B-file case. The B-file illustrated that he accepted bribes from Leon and he was probably nervous that the B-file might turn up somewhere. If the file was to show up, his career would be negatively impacted especially because he is a Judge.
This example illustrates the corruption that could exist in the legal system that no one would find out about. It seems that Judge Lyttle used his powers to his own advantage to protect himself from being caught. Also, Stern and Horgan knew that Judge Lyttle was accepting bribes from Leon but Horgan was the one who gave the Judge a second chance. Average people may never be aware of this type of corruption that may occur in the legal system. In the beginning of the movie there is also political corruption within the legal system.
Horgan puts Rusty in charge of the Polhemus case but then turns against him. Horgan claims that Rusty insisted on handling the case which makes it seem like Rusty might be covering up something. Watching law related movies can teach the public a lot about the legal system. Presumed Innocent illustrates the controversy of conflict of interests and some of the corruption that may take place within an investigation. Work Cited 1. O'Cain, Derek. "Presumed Innocent (1990) - Plot Summary. " The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 18 Feb. 2012. ;http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0100404/plotsummary;
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