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Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a successful defense attorney in Chicago. When his brother calls with the news that their mother has died, Hank returns to his childhood home in Indiana to attend the funeral. His arrival triggers renewed tension between himself and his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall), who makes no secret of his disapproval of his son’s career. As Hank prepares to depart, his father is arrested for a hit-and-run death, so he takes on his defense, despite his father’s objections.