Taking its title from the stenographer's record in a criminal investigation, Sidney Lumet's brutal look at police corruption peers at the rotten center of crime-fighting institutions and spotlights one man's naïve attempt to intervene. Timothy Hutton is young District Attorney Al Reilly, called in on a cut and dry case. In the seemingly simple investigation of the shooting of a Puerto Rican drug lord by supposed model cop Brennan (Nick Nolte), Reilly discovers telling inconsistencies and delves further. Despite the stern advice from Chief of Homicide Quinn to resolve the case and quickly clear Brennan, the older cop's suspicious behavior and conflicting stories spur Reilly to delve further. Reilly's former fiancée, Nancy, complicates matters because she is now involved with the prime witness, Bobby Texador (Armand Assanté). With this emotional baggage, Reilly uncovers a vast web of corruption stretching from Manhattan to Puerto Rico that leads all the way to Quinn. Brennan realizes that Reilly is on to him, and he becomes ruthless, stopping at nothing to prevent the truth from surfacing. The gritty and poisonous world of hardened urban cops surfaces as Lumet illustrates the crusading Reilly's uncompromising honesty against the landscape of racism, lies, and illicit allegiances that lurk below every surface of the city.