Summary: The scene is the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, six miles southwest of downtown Chicago. Courtroom 302 is run by Judge Daniel Locallo, the son of a police captain; he's industrious, ambitious, and up for reelection. This is normally a cinch for a judge, but Locallo is presiding over a racial-beating case that could explode on him. The victim, a 13-year-old black boy, was beaten nearly to death after he biked into a white neighborhood; the lead defendant is a mobste ...show morer's son. Judge Locallo--who still cries at the climactic scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird--wants to show African-Americans that the system isn't really racist. But when a key witness disappears and another one is murdered, it becomes doubtful that anyone will be convicted. A ruling Locallo makes results in bedlam in his courtroom and a campaign by the angered party to dump him off the bench.
But Bogira also reveals the daily grind, the cases and people that never make it into the newspapers. He shows the tricks of the trade employed to dispose of most cases as fast as possible. Everyone here works hard, but no one has the time or inclination to give a second thought to the defendants being marched past the bench. "Everybody just makes deals, like it's a garage sale or something," the courtroom deputy says. "They locking up people every day they don't know nothing about," a defendant says.
In the midst of the stream of fast-paced drama, profound issues of American justice are raised, and Bogira brings them brilliantly to life. ...show less