Taglines: They meet. They judge. They execute… All in the name of the law.
Judge Steven Hardin (Michael Douglas) is an idealistic Los Angeles jurist who gets frustrated when the technicalities of the law prevent the prosecution of a man who was charged with numerous murders of elderly women for their welfare money after their checks were cashed and two other men who are accused of raping and killing an eight-year old boy as part of a suspected child pornography ring. The latter two were driving slowly late at night and attracted the suspicion of two police officers, who thought the van’s occupants might be burglars.
After checking the license plate for violations, the policemen pulled them over for expired paperwork, claimed to have smelled marijuana, then saw a bloody shoe inside the van. However, the paperwork was actually submitted on time (it was merely processed late), meaning the police had no reason to pull over the van and Hardin has no choice (see fruit of the poisonous tree) but to exclude any subsequently discovered evidence, i.e. the bloody shoe. Hardin is even more distraught when the father of the boy attempts to shoot the criminals in court but misses and shoots one of the arresting officers instead.
Subsequently, the father commits suicide while in jail only after he informs Hardin that another boy has been discovered raped and murdered and tells him “This one is on you, your Honor. That boy would be alive if you hadn’t let those men go.” After hearing all this, Judge Hardin approaches his friend, Judge Caulfield (Hal Holbrook), who tells him of a modern-day Star Chamber: a group of judges who identifies criminals who fell through the judicial system’s cracks and then takes action against them outside the legal structure with a hired assassin.
The Star Chamber is a 1983 American crime–drama, mystery–thriller film starring Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, Sharon Gless, James B. Sikking, and Joe Regalbuto. The film was written by Roderick Taylor & Peter Hyams and directed by Hyams. The Star Chamber’s title is taken from the name of the Star Chamber, the notorious 15th –17th-century English court.
The Star Chamber (1983)
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Starring: Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, Sharon Gless, James B. Sikking, Joe Regalbuto, John DiSanti, Larry Hankin
Screenplay by: Roderick Taylor, Peter Hyams
Production Design by: Bill Malley
Cinematography by: Richard N. Hannah
Film Editing by: James Mitchell
Costume Design by: Patricia Norris
Set Decoration by: Rick Simpson
Art Direction by: Bo Welch
Music by: Michael Small
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: August 5, 1983