Cracked lists “The 5 Most Wildly Illegal Court Rulings in Movie History.” Number five: The Untouchables.
When Ness discovers mid-trial that the jury has been bribed, he confronts the judge, who is also in Capone’s pocket, and threatens to expose him if he doesn’t do something. Instead of declaring a mistrial, the judge switches the entire jury with the jury from the trial next door, after the trial has already begun.
In a moment of panic, Capone’s lawyer changes the plea to guilty, and the courtroom erupts as though all crime has just been wiped off the face of the Earth.
Ever had to go in for jury duty? And the lengthy selection process? All that stuff happens for a reason. Juries are specially selected to avoid a conflict in the case being tried — hell, Capone’s second cousin could have been in the jury next door for all they knew. That’s why a judge doesn’t have the power to place a jury that the lawyers haven’t selected or interviewed, let alone do so mid-trial.
But this point becomes moot minutes later, when, seeing that the evidence is stacked against them, Capone’s lawyer switches his plea to guilty. The court erupts, cheering, while Capone punches out his lawyer and is then seen in the background being led off to jail screaming, “Is this justice?”
Well, no, actually.
The whole point of the scene seems to be that Capone’s lawyer switches sides and pulls the rug out from under Capone. But in real life, a court can’t accept a plea without a defendant’s verbal consent, no matter what the lawyer suddenly announces.
I thought A Time to Kill would have been the worst, but it only placed third. As for their number-one pick, this Christmas you won’t watch it the same way.