Outside Old City Hall, Nancy and Alice listen to a protester imploring immigrants to abandon old hatreds and embrace Canada’s ideals of tolerance. Their argument about the protester’s ideas is interrupted by the arrival of James, who is wearing multiple jackets and ties and carrying two large garbage bags. Nancy assumes he has had a complete mental breakdown but her fears are temporarily eased when she learns that he is just donating clothes to the Salvation Army -- thrown onto the lawn by his estranged wife. Always genuinely concerned (in her own brutal way) about James’ emotional fragility, Nancy immediately begins to fret about how he’ll handle the collapse of his marriage.
James, now down to just one layer of clothes, is heading into trial – an ugly assault case that continuously threatens to blow up into a debate over the entire Palestinian conflict. James represents Nathan Bloom, a 22-year-old Jewish student charged with assaulting a Palestinian protester, Ahmed Yassin. Nathan had been attempting to attend a university lecture being delivered by a controversial neo-con, pro-Israeli writer. His confrontation with a group of protesters turned violent.
Alice is also going to trial with her client Molly Ariano, a bitter administrative assistant who has been charged with fraud for stealing money. Molly says her boss, an arrogant and condescending interior designer named Suzanne Castle, has reneged on paying promised bonuses to her. In retaliation for the missing bonuses and for years of mistreatment, Molly has taken not only what she feels she is owed, but tens of thousands more. Although she has safely invested this extra amount, out of spite she has hidden all the paperwork within an impenetrable filing system. Alice knows Molly’s vindictiveness will not look good in court and tries to keep it under wraps. Molly, however, lets the cat out of the bag during her testimony and is left with a stark choice: return all the money, including her supposed bonus, or go to jail. Molly vows not to return a penny.
Elliot, never comfortable in Mental Health Court, is having a particularly bad time of it with his client, Gordon Willis, who suffers from psycho-affective disorder. Gordon thinks the world is on the cusp of ecological collapse, signified by the declining health of the world’s frogs. He’s been harassing a local TV news meteorologist, hoping that she will help him stave off the coming apocalypse. As the matter is held down, Elliot is accosted by a mentally unstable man who asks for his help. The man is required to report to his parole officer over the phone but he hasn’t been able to get through. Out of desperation, he’s come all the way down to Old City Hall from Barrie so that someone can witness him trying to call – and he’s chosen Elliot.
In bail court, Alice is also representing Frannie Sprewell, a 73-year-old woman who has been charged with failure to appear stemming from original charges involving the theft of a pen and assaulting a security guard. During her appearance, it becomes clear that Frannie is not entirely well and doesn’t even seem to remember the events that led to her charges. Frannie’s husband, Fred, confirms the patchiness of Frannie’s memory, making Alice all the more uneasy when Frannie insists upon traversing to Plea Court to take responsibility for what she’s done. Alice’s fears later turn out to be well founded when Frannie’s “other” husband, Harry, arrives in Plea Court – much to everyone’s confusion, except for Frannie. In her dementia, Frannie recently married Harry and, for the moment at least, has forgotten all about Fred, her husband of 48 years. Alice appeals to the court that Frannie is obviously not fit but the court decides otherwise. In the end, Alice and Fred watch helplessly as the happy newlyweds walk away from court.
Back in James’ case, a young woman who was amongst the pro-Palestinian protesters is on the stand. She testifies that Ahmed had been attempting to have a reasonable discussion when he was assaulted by Nathan for no reason. James challenges her story, asserting that far from being a reasonable discussion, his client was provoked by a hostile mob. Ahmed is next on the stand and insists upon portraying Nathan’s actions as typical of Israeli aggression against Arabs, putting him on the bad side of Judge Fraser, who is trying to keep things simple. Later on the stand, Nathan asserts that Ahmed was physically preventing him from attending a lecture that he had every right to attend and that his only option was to use force. Judge Fraser dismisses the supposed geopolitical context of the incident and reduces it to a case of straightforward assault between two guys from the GTA. Nathan is tarred with a criminal record after receiving probation, community service, and an order to seek anger management counselling.
In Elliot’s harassment case with the TV meteorologist, he speaks with Gordon’s wife, Gloria, in the hopes that if it goes to a bail hearing, he can use her as surety. All the while, he’s also keeping an eye on the mentally-unstable man at the payphone who is deteriorating rapidly while he waits on hold to speak to his parole officer. Elliot soon realizes that Gloria has plenty of mental health issues of her own and he is therefore feeling less-than-hopeful when he returns to court. Thankfully, the experience of social worker June Kim and Judge Malone puts things into perspective and Elliot, emboldened, re-launches an effective argument outlining Gordon’s essential harmlessness. Crown Menon is sufficiently swayed to offer Gordon bail on condition that he keep away from the meteorologist. With one job done, Elliot rushes back out to the phone bank in the hallway to rescue the man trying to get through to his parole officer. Elliot can’t stand it anymore and tells him to just go home to Barrie, promising that he’ll call the parole officer on his behalf, no matter how long it takes.