In the pursuit of justice, the truth can be both their ally and their enemy.
The military is known for its unyielding discipline and strict codes of conduct. As an outsider, it’s difficult to understand the complex dynamics of the world of the armed forces. But when a routine murder case lands on the desks of two unlikely lawyers, they uncover a world of hazing rituals, cover-ups, and corruption.
Lt. Daniel Kaffee is a young lawyer with a reputation for taking shortcuts and settling cases before they even go to trial. His co-counsel, Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway, is a hard-nosed military lawyer with an unwavering commitment to justice.
When their boss assigns them to defend two Marines accused of murder, Kaffee and Galloway quickly realize that this case is not what it seems. As they dig deeper, they uncover a world of hazing rituals, power plays, and corruption that could implicate high-ranking officials, including the powerful Col. Nathan Jessep.
Kaffee and Galloway must navigate this treacherous terrain if they hope to uncover the truth and clear the names of their clients. But with so much at stake, they soon find themselves embroiled in a battle that could cost them everything.
Chapter 1 – A Routine Case
It was just another routine case for Lt. Daniel Kaffee. A young Marine had been accused of murder, and Kaffee’s job was to get him off the hook. Kaffee was a smart lawyer, but he had a reputation for taking shortcuts and settling cases outside of court. He was content to live his life on autopilot, never encountering a case that challenged him to do better. But this case would be different.
Kaffee’s boss, Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson, was frustrated with his cavalier approach to law. He knew that Kaffee had the potential to be a great lawyer, but he was too lazy to push himself. So when Markinson brought Kaffee a new case, he did so with a sense of purpose.
“Daniel,” Markinson said, his voice stern. “This is a big one. Two Marines are accused of murder, and we need you to represent them. It’s a high-profile case, and it could open some doors for you if you handle it well.”
Kaffee rolled his eyes. “Come on, sir. Murder cases are a dime a dozen.”
“Not this one,” Markinson said. “There’s something strange about it. There’s a hazing ritual involved, and it could implicate some high-ranking officials.”
That got Kaffee’s attention. Hazing rituals were prohibited in the military, but they were still prevalent in some units. If this case involved hazing, it could be a bigger deal than Kaffee realized.
“Alright, I’ll take the case,” Kaffee said, finally sitting up straight.
“Good,” Markinson said. “You’ll be working with Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway. She’s a seasoned military lawyer, and she’ll keep you on your toes. You start tomorrow.”
Kaffee left Markinson’s office feeling a sense of dread. He had never worked with Galloway before, and he knew she had a reputation for being tough. But he was also intrigued by the hazing angle. He wanted to know more.
The next day, Kaffee showed up to court and met Galloway for the first time. She was a serious-looking woman with short hair and a no-nonsense demeanor. Kaffee couldn’t help but feel intimidated by her.
“Kaffee?” Galloway asked, arching an eyebrow.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Kaffee said, trying to sound confident.
Galloway didn’t say anything else. She just handed him a thick file and walked away. Kaffee opened the file and began reading. As he did, he realized that this case was far from routine. It was going to be the most challenging case of his career.
Chapter 2: The Hazing Ritual
Galloway’s initial investigation leads her to uncover a dark and hidden practice among the Marines. For years, a clandestine and abusive hazing ritual known as “Code Red” has been taking place, resulting in the death of a young Marine, Santiago. Galloway realizes that the Code Red could be the motive for the murder, and the defense team decides to find evidence that proves its existence and impact in the case.
Galloway arranges a meeting with one of the Marines, Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson, who was present during the events leading up to Santiago’s death. At first, Dawson seems resentful and uncooperative, but Galloway’s persistence eventually pays off. She gets him to open up about the Code Red practice and its prevalence in Guantanamo Bay.
Dawson describes the Code Red as a disciplinary measure used to punish those who violate the Marines’ code of conduct. It involves covering the victim’s head with a cloth, tying them to a bed, and subjecting them to physical and emotional abuse. Dawson explains that the practice is very secretive, and only a select few know about it.
Galloway realizes that the Code Red could be a significant factor in the case, and they need to find evidence to support their theory. She suggests talking to other Marines to see if they’ve witnessed any instances of the Code Red. Kaffee is skeptical, thinking that it would be difficult to get the Marines to reveal anything incriminating.
Undeterred, Galloway sets out to talk to more witnesses. She approaches Private First Class Louden Downey and tries to get him to open up about the Code Red practice. Downey seems to have a lot of misgivings, and Galloway senses that he is hiding something. She appeals to his conscience, pleading with him to speak up if he knows anything that could help their case.
As she continues to investigate, Galloway begins to realize how deeply ingrained the Code Red practice is in the Marine culture. She learns that many Marines have experienced it, but they are too afraid to come forward and reveal the truth. Galloway decides to reach out to the Marine’s wives and families to see if they have any information.
Meanwhile, Kaffee begins to feel the pressure of the case. He knows that they need strong evidence to prove their case, but he also wants to win. He is constantly butting heads with Galloway, who is laser-focused on getting justice for Santiago.
Galloway’s efforts lead her to Corporal Jeffrey Barnes, who was present during Santiago’s Code Red. Barnes is reluctant to come forward, knowing the risks associated with speaking out against the Marines’ culture. He reveals that he was ordered by his superior, Lance Corporal Dawson, to carry out the Code Red.
Kaffee’s skepticism about the Code Red begins to wane as the evidence piles up. Galloway’s persistence in uncovering the truth is beginning to pay off. They now have witnesses and evidence that could implicate high-ranking officials, including Col. Jessep.
As the trial date approaches, the defense team is slowly piecing together the truth behind Santiago’s death. However, they know that they are up against some powerful individuals, and the truth could be dangerous.
Galloway’s investigation into the Code Red practice not only uncovers a hidden and abusive practice but also exposes the lengths to which some Marines are willing to go to maintain their status quo. The team’s efforts to bring justice to Santiago’s family result in an unexpected twist that could change the course of the trial.
Chapter 3: Meeting Dawson & Downey
Lieutenant Kaffee and Lieutenant Commander Galloway meet with their clients, Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey. Dawson is a well-built man with a buzz cut, and Downey is small in stature, with a bewildered look on his face. Kaffee takes the lead in the conversation and tries to set the tone, but it’s JoAnne who seems to connect with Dawson and Downey on a more personal level.
The meeting takes place in a bare, white room with a table, four chairs, and a door leading to a small bathroom. Kaffee sits at the head of the table, with Galloway to his right. Dawson and Downey sit across from them. The air is thick with tension.
Kaffee starts by asking Dawson and Downey about their arrest and their version of events leading up to the murder. Dawson is terse and to the point. He’s clearly not interested in small talk. Downey, on the other hand, is nervous and fidgety, looking around the room, avoiding eye contact.
As Kaffee and Galloway delve deeper into the case, they realize that Dawson and Downey come from completely different backgrounds. Dawson is a third-generation Marine, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. He’s proud of his service and sees the Marines as a family. Downey, on the other hand, is a Marine because his father was one. He’s never been sure if he really wants to be there. He’s timid and introverted and seems to be hiding something.
Kaffee begins to lose patience with Downey’s evasiveness. “Why did you agree to do the Code Red?” he asks, irritably. Downey looks down, then up, then down again. “I didn’t have a choice,” he mumbles. “Dawson made me do it.” Dawson’s face darkens, and he starts to speak, but Galloway intervenes. “It’s okay, Louden,” she says. “Just tell us the truth. We’re here to help you.”
Downey looks at her, and for a moment, there’s a flicker of trust in his eyes. “I didn’t want to do it,” he says. “But I was afraid. Dawson was my squad leader, and he said if I didn’t do it, I’d be letting the team down. I didn’t want to let anyone down.”
Dawson glares at him. “That’s not what happened,” he growls. “He knew what he was doing. He knew the consequences.”
“What consequences?” asks Galloway.
Dawson hesitates, then speaks slowly and deliberately. “The Code Red is a training tool,” he says. “It’s used to discipline Marines who aren’t pulling their weight. We’re supposed to give them a wake-up call, show them what it means to be a Marine. But it’s not supposed to be serious. It’s not supposed to hurt anyone.”
Kaffee, who has been quiet up until this point, leans forward. “But you say this time was different?” he asks.
Dawson nods. “PFC Santiago was a screw-up,” he says. “He couldn’t get anything right. He wasn’t fit to wear the uniform. We had to do something.”
“Something?” echoes Galloway. “You mean you had to kill him?”
Dawson’s face hardens. “We didn’t mean to kill him,” he says. “We just wanted to make him toughen up.”
Galloway looks from Dawson to Downey, her expression one of disgust. “You both are in serious trouble,” she says. “But if you’re honest with us, we’ll do everything we can to help you.”
Dawson and Downey exchange a look, and for a moment, Kaffee wonders if they’re going to tell the truth. Then Dawson speaks. “We’ll tell you everything,” he says. “But you have to promise us one thing.”
“What’s that?” asks Kaffee.
Dawson leans forward, his eyes fixed on Kaffee’s. “You have to get us out of the Marine Corps. We can’t go back there. Not after this.”
Kaffee and Galloway exchange a look. They know that may be a tall order, but they also know they need Dawson and Downey’s cooperation to win the case.
“We’ll do our best,” says Kaffee. “But first, we need to know everything. Every detail of what happened that night.”
Chapter 4: The Trial Begins
The courtroom was packed as the trial of Dawson and Downey began. Kaffee was visibly nervous as he shuffled his papers, looking over at Galloway for reassurance. She gave him an encouraging nod, and he began his opening statement.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he began. “You have heard the prosecution’s case, and you have heard their evidence. But I am here to tell you that there is more to this story. My clients are not murderers. They are Marines who were following orders.”
Kaffee was speaking with confidence, but his lack of experience was starting to show. His tone was condescending, and he seemed to be talking down to the jury. Galloway could see that he was losing them.
She stepped in and took over, delivering a powerful and emotional opening statement. She spoke of duty, honor, and the importance of following the law. She appealed to the jury’s sense of justice and asked them to keep an open mind.
The prosecution called their first witness, a young Marine who had served with Dawson and Downey. He testified that he had witnessed the two accused Marines carrying out the murder. Kaffee’s cross-examination was sloppy, and he failed to poke holes in the Marine’s testimony.
The mood in the courtroom was tense, and it seemed like the defense was losing ground. Kaffee was starting to panic, and his arrogance was rubbing the judge and the prosecutor the wrong way.
Things took a turn for the worse when Col. Jessep was called to the stand. Kaffee had been looking forward to this moment, thinking that he could finally trap the shady Colonel and get his clients off the hook.
But Jessep was too smart for that. He was calm and calculated, answering Kaffee’s questions with ease. Kaffee was getting frustrated, and it showed. He raised his voice, accusing Jessep of lying, but the Colonel remained unfazed.
The judge reprimanded Kaffee for his behavior and warned him to get his act together. Galloway could see that her co-counsel was sabotaging their case, and she knew that she had to step in.
She took over the cross-examination of Jessep, using her skills as a Navy lawyer to catch him in a lie. The courtroom was stunned as she exposed Jessep’s wrongdoing, and Kaffee looked on in awe.
Galloway had taken control of the trial, and Kaffee realized that he needed to step back. He couldn’t let his ego ruin their chances of winning. He took a deep breath and apologized to the judge and the prosecutor, vowing to do better in the future.
The trial continued, and the defense called their own witnesses. Dawson and Downey took the stand, telling their version of events. They spoke of the pressure they felt to carry out the “Code Red” hazing ritual and the fear they had of disobeying orders.
Their testimony was powerful, and the courtroom was moved. The jury was starting to see the accused Marines in a different light, and it seemed like the defense had a chance to win.
But just when things were looking up, the prosecution called a surprise witness. It was someone who wasn’t on Kaffee’s radar, and their testimony threatened to blow the defense’s case wide open.
Kaffee and Galloway were caught off guard, and they realized that they needed to act fast if they wanted to save their clients from a guilty verdict.
Chapter 5: Col. Jessep Testifies
Kaffee leaned forward in his seat, gripping his pen tightly as Col. Nathan Jessep took the stand. This was the moment they had been waiting for, the moment where they could finally catch the colonel in a lie and turn the trial around. But as Jessep began to speak, Kaffee quickly realized that things weren’t going to be as easy as he had hoped.
Jessep was sharp, and his answers were precise and calculated. He had clearly been preparing for this moment for a long time, and he wasn’t about to let Kaffee and Galloway catch him off guard.
Kaffee started with a simple question, trying to establish a timeline of events leading up to the murder. But Jessep’s response was guarded, and he quickly began to evade Kaffee’s questions.
It was clear to Galloway that Kaffee wasn’t making any headway, and she took over, drilling Jessep with more direct questions. But Jessep simply replied with rehearsed answers, and Galloway found herself at a loss for words.
As the cross-examination continued, Kaffee grew increasingly frustrated. He had been so sure that Jessep would crack under the pressure, but instead, he seemed to be thriving. Kaffee glanced over at Dawson and Downey, who looked equally disappointed.
Finally, Kaffee decided to take a risk. He decided to accuse Jessep of ordering the “Code Red,” the hazing ritual that had led to the murder. It was a bold move, but Kaffee had nothing to lose. He hoped that Jessep would slip up and reveal the truth.
At first, Jessep seemed taken aback by the accusation. But then, his face hardened, and he looked directly at Kaffee.
“You want answers?” Jessep said. “I think I’m entitled to them.”
Kaffee sat back in his seat, unsure of what Jessep was getting at.
Jessep continued, “You want answers?”
“I want the truth!” Kaffee replied.
“You can’t handle the truth!” Jessep retorted.
Kaffee felt a lump forming in his throat. He didn’t understand what was happening, but it was clear that Jessep was getting the upper hand.
Jessep went on to give a long, impassioned speech about the role of the military and the need for discipline. Kaffee and Galloway listened, stunned. They had never heard someone defend the “Code Red” with such conviction.
As Jessep finished his speech, Kaffee and Galloway looked at each other. They knew that they had just witnessed a turning point in the trial. Jessep had successfully shifted the focus away from himself and the murder case and onto the broader issue of military discipline.
Kaffee knew that he would have to regroup and come up with a new strategy. He couldn’t allow Jessep to get away with murder, but he also knew that he couldn’t simply attack the military establishment. He needed to find a way to bring the real culprits to justice without undermining the entire military system in the process.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Kaffee and Galloway went back to their hotel room, exhausted and dejected. They knew that they would need to come up with a new plan, but they didn’t know where to begin.
As Kaffee lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling, he wondered if he was cut out for this kind of work. He had always thought that he could handle anything that came his way, but this trial was pushing him to his limits. He knew that he needed to find a way to prevail, but he wasn’t sure if he had it in him.
Meanwhile, Jessep sat in his office, sipping a glass of scotch. He knew that he had won a major battle, but he also knew that the war was far from over. He was ten steps ahead of Kaffee and Galloway, and he knew that they would need to be even more cunning and ruthless if they wanted to beat him.
For now, though, he was content to bask in his victory. He had never felt more alive than he did at that moment, knowing that he had outsmarted two of the best lawyers in the business. He knew that he was invincible, and that was a feeling that he would savor for a long time to come.
Chapter 6: A Surprising Witness
As the trial continues, Kaffee’s defense strategy seems to be falling apart. The prosecution’s case is strong, and Kaffee’s lack of experience is becoming more apparent than ever before. Just when things couldn’t get worse, a surprise witness steps forward.
Galloway receives a message from a woman identifying herself as a nurse at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The nurse claims to have vital information about the case that could help the defense. Galloway is skeptical but decides to investigate the matter anyway.
The next day, a woman shows up at the courthouse, revealing herself to be the nurse. She tells Galloway that she once treated one of the accused Marines, William Santiago, for injuries sustained during a hazing ritual. The nurse claims that Santiago was close to death when he was brought to the infirmary and that it was clear that the hazing ritual had gone too far.
Galloway is stunned by the nurse’s story. She knows that this evidence could be the key to winning the case. She arranges for the nurse to testify in court, but before that, she needs to confirm the woman’s story.
Galloway pays a visit to the detention camp, where she meets the nurse. The nurse is nervous and says that she wants to remain anonymous as she fears for her safety. Galloway promises to protect her and asks more questions about Santiago’s condition.
The nurse explains that Santiago was barely conscious when he was admitted to the infirmary. She said that he had suffered from severe dehydration, a broken arm, and other injuries consistent with a violent attack. Galloway is horrified by the nurse’s account.
Galloway returns to the courthouse with the nurse’s testimony, and the judge allows her to testify in court. The nurse’s testimony is explosive, and it sends shockwaves through the courtroom. The prosecution team tries to discredit her, but she sticks to her story and remains confident and composed throughout.
Kaffee realizes that the nurse’s testimony is a game-changer. He feels more optimistic about the case than he’s ever been before. He starts to feel proud of himself and thinks that the case is won.
However, things take a turn for the worse when the prosecution team calls their own witness. The witness is a marine who was involved in the hazing ritual and claims that it wasn’t harmful and that Santiago died of pneumonia.
Kaffee is taken aback by the witness’s testimony. The defense team tries to discredit the witness, but the prosecution’s case seems to be stronger than ever before. Kaffee and Galloway realize that their work is far from over, and they still have a lot of work to do if they hope to win the case.
The next day, Kaffee and Galloway meet with Dawson and Downey. They tell the accused Marines about the nurse’s testimony and the prosecution’s witness. They encourage the Marines to speak up and to tell the truth if they want to help themselves and their case.
The Marines seem hesitant, but Kaffee and Galloway persuade them to do the right thing. Dawson and Downey come forward with the truth, revealing what really happened to Santiago and implicating others in the process.
The courtroom erupts in shock and disbelief as Dawson and Downey’s testimony is heard. Kaffee and Galloway realize that their gamble has paid off, and justice has been served. However, they also realize that their actions have consequences, and they learn that fighting for justice isn’t always easy and that sometimes, the truth can be a double-edged sword.
Chapter 7: The Truth Comes Out
The atmosphere in the courtroom was tense as Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway listened to the prosecution’s case against Dawson and Downey. The prosecution had produced strong evidence that suggested that the two Marines had intentionally killed their fellow Marine, Private Santiago, in a hazing ritual gone wrong.
Kaffee had been struggling to keep up with the prosecution since the beginning of the trial, and Galloway had been forced to carry the team with her legal expertise. But as the trial progressed, Galloway had become increasingly agitated by Kaffee’s disregard for the seriousness of the case.
It was during a recess that a witness approached Galloway and handed her a tape. The witness, an enlisted Marine, had recorded a conversation between two other Marines, one of whom confessed to killing Santiago.
Galloway listened to the tape and immediately knew that they had a breakthrough. She called Kaffee into a side room and played the tape for him. Kaffee, who had been dismissive of Galloway’s concerns about their defense strategy, suddenly became serious.
Kaffee realized the severity of the situation, and for the first time, he understood the impact of his actions. Dawson and Downey had been willing to take the fall to protect their superior officers, but Kaffee and Galloway couldn’t let that happen. They needed to prove that the murder was not their clients’ fault and get to the bottom of what had really happened.
At the start of the trial, the prosecution had presented a motive for the murder: Santiago had planned to blow the whistle on a drug ring based on the naval base, and Dawson and Downey had killed him to prevent him from doing so. But the tape that Galloway had obtained suggested a different motive entirely.
The tape revealed that Santiago had a medical condition that required him to be transferred to a different unit. When his transfer request was denied, Santiago had threatened to go to the media. It was this threat that had led to his death.
Galloway knew their defense strategy had to change. She convinced Kaffee to let her deliver the closing argument, and she planned to use the tape as evidence.
When the day of the verdict arrived, the courtroom was packed. The tension was palpable as the judge read out the verdict. Dawson and Downey were acquitted of murder but found guilty of conduct unbecoming of a Marine.
As the verdict was read out, Kaffee and Galloway shared a look of relief. They knew that they had done the right thing, even if it had involved taking risks that could have ended their careers.
After the trial, the two lawyers took a walk around the naval base. For the first time since they started working together, Kaffee expressed gratitude to Galloway for her hard work and dedication.
“It’s been a long time since anyone’s thanked me,” Galloway said, smiling.
“Well, you deserve it,” Kaffee replied. “You were the real hero of this case.”
Galloway laughed, “I’m not the hero of anything, Kaffee. I’m just a lawyer doing my job.”
But Kaffee knew better. He knew that Galloway had saved their clients from a lifetime of imprisonment and that she had done it with grace and determination.
As they walked away, Kaffee couldn’t help but think that maybe he had learned something from Galloway after all. He knew that he would never forget the lessons he learned during this case.
Chapter 8: The Verdict
Kaffee sat anxiously in the courtroom, fidgeting with his pen. Galloway sat beside him, her eyes fixed on the judge as he entered the room. They had put everything on the line for this case, and now it was time for the verdict.
The tension was palpable as the judge read out the jury’s decision. Kaffee felt like his heart was about to jump out of his chest, and Galloway’s hand tightened around his wrist. They had worked tirelessly on the case, but they both knew that the outcome was out of their control.
“Private Louden Downey and Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson, the court-martial finds you both guilty of the charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder,” The judge said in a monotone voice.
Kaffee and Galloway both slumped in their seats, disappointment etched on their faces. They had put up a valiant effort, but it hadn’t been enough. The evidence had been stacked against them, and the jury had made their decision.
As the judge continued to read out the sentences, Kaffee felt like his world was crashing down around him. He had put his faith in the system, but it had failed him and his clients.
“Private Louden Downey, you are to be dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps and spend the next ten years in a military prison. Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson, you are to be dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps and spend the next ten years in a military prison. Your rank will be reduced to private.”
Kaffee’s mind was racing. He was trying to think of ways to appeal the verdict, to find a loophole, to make a new case. But deep down, he knew that it was over. They had lost, and there was nothing they could do about it.
As the courtroom emptied, Kaffee and Galloway stayed behind. They sat in silence, both lost in their thoughts. Kaffee rubbed his temples, feeling a headache coming on. He had always been a man of action, but now he felt powerless.
“Joanne, do you think we did everything we could?” Kaffee asked, breaking the silence.
Galloway looked at him, her eyes full of sympathy. “We did our best, Danny. We fought for justice. We challenged the system. But sometimes, the truth is not enough.”
Kaffee nodded, feeling a mix of emotions. He was proud of what they had accomplished, but also disappointed with the outcome. He had learned a valuable lesson about the law and the harsh reality of military justice.
As they walked out of the courtroom, Kaffee couldn’t help but feel like he had failed. He had put his clients’ fate in his hands, and he hadn’t been able to deliver the justice they deserved. But he also knew that he had gained something important: a newfound respect for the law, for the truth, and for the men and women who defended it.
Kaffee spent the next few months reflecting on the case, on his mistakes and accomplishments. He had learned a lot about himself, about the law, and about the world. He had come to appreciate the complexity of justice, the balance between the law and the human element.
He thought about Dawson and Downey, about the Code Red and the hazing ritual, about the men and women who serve in the armed forces and face unimaginable challenges every day.
Eventually, Kaffee returned to his job, a wiser and more humble man. He continued to defend his clients, but now with a newfound respect for the law and the truth. He knew that justice wasn’t always easy, but he also knew that it was worth fighting for.
As for Dawson and Downey, they served their time in prison, but their story didn’t end there. They became symbols of the hazing ritual’s brutality, and their case sparked a debate about the military’s culture and its impact on the young men and women who serve.
Kaffee watched from afar, knowing that he had played a small part in a bigger story. He had fought for justice, but he had also gained something valuable: a sense of purpose, a respect for the law, and a newfound appreciation for the complexities of the human experience.
Some scenes from the movie A Few Good Men written by A.I.
Genre: Legal Drama
Logline: When a cocky military lawyer and his co-counsel uncover a hazing ritual that could implicate high-ranking officials, they must risk everything to get justice for the accused Marines.
– Lt. Daniel Kaffee: A young, cocky military lawyer.
– Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway: A seasoned co-counsel.
– Dawson: One of the accused Marines.
– Downey: The other accused Marine.
– Col. Nathan Jessep: A high-ranking official who may be involved in the hazing ritual.
Setting: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Kaffee: (sarcastically) “Another murder case. How thrilling.”
Galloway: “This isn’t just any murder case, Kaffee. These boys are accused of killing one of their own.”
Kaffee: “Sounds like a gang fight to me. Open and shut case.”
Galloway: “It’s not that simple. We’ve uncovered evidence of a hazing ritual called the ‘Code Red.’ It may implicate high-ranking officials.”
Kaffee: “So, what? We’re gonna take on the whole damn military? Good luck with that.”
EXT. GUANTANAMO BAY – DAY
Kaffee and Galloway walk along the base, the sun beating down on them.
“You know, Kaffee, this place has a dark history.”
“Yeah, yeah, the detainees, the torture. I get it.”
“No, I mean the hazing rituals. They’ve been going on for years, and no one’s done anything about it.”
“So why now? Why this case?”
“Because this time, it went too far. One Marine is dead, and two others are accused of killing him.”
“Great. Another murder case. How thrilling.”
“Have some respect, Kaffee. These boys are just like you and me, except they made one mistake.”
“And we’re supposed to fix it? Come on, JoAnne, let’s focus on the cases that matter.”
“This does matter, Kaffee. It matters to these boys and their families. We can’t just let it go.”
They arrive at the barracks, where the accused Marines are waiting for them.
“Lieutenant Kaffee, Lieutenant Galloway. We appreciate you taking the case.”
“Thank you, sirs.”
“Don’t thank us yet. We haven’t even heard your side of the story.”
The accused Marines exchange a worried look, and the camera zooms in on Dawson’s face, hinting at a secret he’s keeping.
EXT. MARINE CORPS TRAINING CAMP – DAY
The sun shines down on the camp, where young Marines-in-training are drilling and doing push ups. In the distance, Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (early 30s) and Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway (early 40s) are arriving in their car.
Galloway looks intense as she looks around at the camp.
Kaffee: “What’s going on, Galloway? You’ve been silent all the way here.”
Galloway: “I have a feeling that we’re going to uncover something big in this case. I can feel it.”
They reach the door of the camp’s commander and knock.
INT. CAMP COMMANDER’S OFFICE – DAY
Commander: “Lieutenant Kaffee, Commander Galloway. What brings you here?”
Kaffee: “We’re here to investigate the murder case of Private Santiago. We’d like to speak with some of the Marines.”
Commander: “Of course. We’ll get you set up with a room and bring in some of the men for questioning.”
Galloway and Kaffee are led to a small room with a one-way mirror. A young Marine named Dawson (late 20s) is brought in.
Galloway: “Dawson, can you tell us about the hazing ritual known as ‘Code Red’?”
Dawson hesitates but eventually opens up about the ritual, describing how it goes against Marine Corps values, but some senior Marines still allow it to continue.
Galloway: “Do you know who was responsible for carrying out the ‘Code Red’ on Private Santiago?”
Kaffee: “We need to find out who is responsible for this man’s death. Are you willing to help us?”
Dawson nods in agreement.
Kaffee and Galloway exchange a look, knowing that they have just uncovered a potential scandal within the Marine Corps.
EXT. MARINE BASE – DAY
We see a group of soldiers running and chanting in unison. They stop suddenly in front of a smaller soldier, PFC WILLIAM SANTIAGO (19), who looks nervous.
MARINE (shouting): You think you’re better than us, Santiago?
Santiago doesn’t respond, but his fear is visible.
MARINE 2: We’re going to give you what you deserve.
They shove him to the ground and proceed to beat him up. Suddenly, two officers, LT. DANIEL KAUFFE (28) and LT.CMDR. JOANNE GALLOWAY (34), run over.
KAUFFE: Stop! What the hell is going on here?
MARINE: Just routine discipline, sir.
GALLOWAY: Is that what you call this? This isn’t discipline; this is assault.
KAUFFE: Get out of here, Marines. We’ll handle this.
The Marines leave, and Kaffee and Galloway help Santiago up.
KAUFFE: Are you all right?
SANTIAGO: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.
GALLOWAY: We’re your lawyers, Will. We’re here to help you.
Santiago nods, and they escort him to a nearby building.
INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
Kaffee and Galloway sit across from Santiago.
KAUFFE: Why didn’t you report this hazing?
SANTIAGO: I didn’t want to be a snitch, sir.
GALLOWAY: That’s not being a snitch, William. That’s taking a stand against something that’s wrong.
SANTIAGO: I-I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t know.
KAUFFE: well, you know now, and we’re going to make sure these men are held accountable.
GALLOWAY: But we need you to tell us everything you know about this “Code Red.”
Santiago takes a deep breath and begins to tell them what he knows.
EXT. MILITARY COURT – DAY
The courtroom is buzzing with activity as the military trial of Dawson and Downey begins.
Kaffee walks in, looking nervous. Galloway is already seated, going over her notes.
You’re taking this too seriously.
This is a murder case, Kaffee. I take all my cases seriously.
Kaffee rolls his eyes and takes his seat next to Galloway.
The judge enters, followed by Col. Jessep, who takes a seat at the prosecution’s table.
Jessep gives Kaffee a smug smile.
Kaffee looks flustered, but Galloway steps up to begin her opening statement.
(to the jury)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are not here to defend the actions of the accused Marines, but we are here to defend their rights. To give them a fair trial and ensure that justice is served.
Kaffee looks uneasy as Galloway continues her statement.
The prosecution presents their first witness, a fellow Marine who testifies that Dawson and Downey were responsible for the victim’s death.
Kaffee tries to cross-examine the witness, but his inexperience shows. He stumbles over his words and fails to make a strong argument.
Galloway takes over, and her questioning reveals inconsistencies in the witness’s testimony.
Kaffee looks at Galloway with newfound respect.
Kaffee takes the next witness, Col. Jessup, but his attempt to trap the Colonel backfires.
Jessep turns the tables on Kaffee and accuses him of not respecting the Marines.
The scene ends with Kaffee and Galloway discussing their strategy for the rest of the trial.
– Lt. Daniel Kaffee, cocky military lawyer
– Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway, no-nonsense lawyer
– Col. Nathan Jessep, shady high-ranking official
– Cpl. Dawson, accused Marine
– Pfc. Downey, accused Marine
– Capt. Whitaker, prosecutor
INT. COURTROOM – DAY
Kaffee stands at the podium, ready to cross-examine Col. Jessep. Galloway looks on, nervous but determined.
Kaffee: “So, Col. Jessep, you ordered the Code Red?”
Jessep: “You want answers?”
Kaffee: “I think I’m entitled to them.”
Jessep leans forward.
Jessep: “You want answers?”
Kaffee: “I want the truth!”
Jessep: “You can’t handle the truth!”
The courtroom erupts in murmurs.
Kaffee: “Did you order the Code Red?”
Jessep: “I did the job I was sent here to do.”
Kaffee: “Did you order the Code Red?”
Jessep: “You’re goddamn right I did!”
The courtroom falls silent.
Galloway: (whispering) “Oh my god.”
Kaffee looks stunned.
Whitaker: (standing up) “Objection! This is irrelevant.”
Kaffee: (leaning in) “Oh, you think so?”
Whitaker: “I have no further questions.”
Kaffee turns to Galloway, a look of triumph on his face.
Later, in Kaffee’s office, Galloway confronts him.
Galloway: “What the hell was that? You just let him admit to ordering the Code Red!”
Kaffee: “We got him, JoAnne. We got him on record.”
Galloway: “But what about Dawson and Downey? They’re going to be found guilty now!”
Kaffee: “Not if we play our cards right. We just need to show that they were following orders, that Jessep was the one who gave the order.”
Galloway: “And what about you? What about your conscience?”
Kaffee: “I don’t know, JoAnne. I just don’t know.”
The two lawyers look at each other, neither sure what to do next.