A Time to Kill, directed by Joel Schumacher is a film that presents the high racial tensions in Canton Mississippi in the early 1990's. The film opens with two young men, James Lewis Willard and Billy Ray Cobb joy riding in their beat up yellow pick up truck decked out with Confederate flags. They speed though black neighborhoods throwing full beer bottles at people and houses, until they come across ten-year-old Tonya Hailey walking home from the grocery store. The men pull over, trap her, rape her repeatedly, beat her, hang her, throw her off a bridge and leave her for dead. .
Her siblings find Tonya later that day, barely alive, her father, Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) and the black community is outraged. Tonya's missing shoe is found in the back of the yellow pick up truck and both men are arrested for rape and attempted murder. Carl Lee confronts his lawyer, Jake Brigance (Mathew McConaughey) about similar cases where the white criminals were let off or given light sentences for similar charges, which enrages Carl Lee further. Carl Lee asks if Jake will stand by him in a jam, Jake promises he will. .
The next morning Carl Lee shoots the two men on the way to their arraignment, both men die and a cop is shot and loses his leg. Carl Lee is immediately arrested for the murder of the two men, as promised Jake stands by his side. Carl Lee confesses to the murders and admits he never had anything against the two men until they messed with his baby, he feels sorry for the men's families, but not for what he has done. Jake and Carl Lee begin to discuss every aspect of the case immediately, they decide that Carl Lee with plea not guilty by reason of insanity. .
The District Attorney, Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey) begins to discuss the importance of keeping the case in this county in order to have a better chance of an all white jury, Jake files a change of venue for the opposite reason.