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Villains Wiki

Did they deserve to die, Mr. Hailey?
~ Rufus Buckley cross-examining Carl Lee Hailey

Rufus Buckley is one of the two main antagonists of the 1996 film A Time to Kill, the other being Freddie Lee Cobb.

He was portrayed by Kevin Spacey, who also portrayed Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects, John Doe in Se7en, Buddy Ackerman in Swimming With Sharks, Clyde Northcutt in Fred Claus, Hopper in A Bug's Life, Dave Harken in Horrible Bosses, Lex Luthor in Superman Returns, Jonathan Irons in Call of Duty, Micky Rosa in 21, Dr. Nerse in The Cleveland Show and Frank Underwood in House of Cards.


He is a District Attorney who prosecutes Carl Lee Hailey for the murder of the two men who raped his daughter. He is set against Carl Lee's lawyer, Jake Brigance. A talented lawyer, he skillfully manipulates the case to make sure Carl Lee, who is African-American, appears before an all-white jury, and that the rape of Carl Lee's daughter is mentioned as little as possible to avoid the jury feeling sympathy for him.

During cross-examination, he tries to provoke Carl Lee by askiung him if he thinks the victims deserved to die; Carl shouts, "Yes, they deserved to die and, I hope they burn in hell!". This swings the case in Buckley's favor, as it shows Carl Lee acted with intent, which would disprove Carl Lee's insanity plea.

In the closing argument, Buckley tries one last time to convince the jury members to put Carl Lee on death row, but Brigance ultimately wins the case. Buckley grudgingly congratulates Brigance for his victory.