In Jackson, Mississippi, 1963, civil rights activist Medgar Evans is shot dead by racist Byron De La Beckwith (James Woods). Although brought to trial twice, Beckwith is not found guilty by the all-white juries. In 1989, new evidence of jury tampering results in DA Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin) reopening the case and bringing Beckwith to trial again. During the course of the legal proceedings, DeLaughter's wife leaves him (her father having been the judge at Beckwith's first trial) and his children suffer from racist bullying. He finds an ally in Evers' widow (Whoopi Goldberg), who it transpires is the only person with a copy of the original court transcripts.