| 1. Introduction|
The Runaway Jury is a legal thriller novel written by American author John Grisham. It was Grisham's seventh novel. The hardcover first edition was published by Doubleday Books in 1996 (ISBN 0-385-47294-3). Pearson Longman released the graded reader edition in 2001 (ISBN 0-582-43405-X). The novel was published again in 2003 to coincide with the release of Runaway Jury, a movie adaptation of the novel starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz. The third printing (ISBN 0-440-22147-1) bears a movie-themed cover, in place of the covers used on the first and second printings.
2. Plot Summary
Wendall Rohr and a legal team of successful tort lawyers have filed suit on behalf of plaintiff Celeste Wood, whose husband died of lung cancer. The trial is to be held in Biloxi, Mississippi, a state thought to have favorable tort laws and sympathetic juries. The defendant is Pynex, a tobacco company.
Even before the jury has been sworn in, a stealth juror, Nicholas Easter, has begun to quietly connive behind the scenes, in concert with a mysterious woman known only as Marlee.
Rankin Fitch, a shady "consultant" who has directed eight successful trials for the tobacco industry, has placed a camera in the courtroom in order to observe the proceedings in his office nearby. He has begun to plot many schemes to reach to the jury. He planned to get to Millie Dupree through blackmailing her husband through a tape that has him trying to bribe an official. He reaches to Lonnie Shaver through convincing a company to buy his employer and convince him through orientation. He also tries to reach Rikki Coleman through a blackmail of revealing her abortion to her husband. As the case continues, Fitch is approached by Marlee with a proposal to "buy" the verdict.
However, as Fitch investigates Marlee's past, he discovers that her parents have been killed by smoking and that Marlee was actually planning against the defense. However, he has already sent the $10 million, so he lost $10 million in addition to having lost the trial.
Easter becomes jury foreman after the previous one falls ill (resulting from Nicholas spiking his coffee) and convinces them to find for the plaintiff and make a large monetary award – $2 million for compensatory damages, and $400 million for punitive measures. The defense lawyers and their employers are devastated.
While Easter and Marlee are now rich through short-selling the tobacco companies' stocks and satisfied that they served justice, Fitch realizes that his reputation has been destroyed and that the tobacco companies, once undefeatable, are now vulnerable to lawsuits.
The book closes with Marlee returning the initial $10 million bribe to Fitch, having used it to make several times that much, and warning Fitch that she and Nicholas will always be watching. She explains that she had no intention to steal or lie, and that she cheated only because "That was all your client understood."
A film adaptation was released in 2003 starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz.