The opening sequence features Mitch McDeere clutching a briefcase and running to escape three men chasing him. He escapes by jumping into the back of a passing pickup truck. Moments later, we see him calling his wife, Abby, and telling her "Code red, follow the emergency plan." and "It's happening again."
Mitch heads to the Parkview Hotel, where he greets a man named Martin who tells him he has done horrible things and can't live with them anymore. As loud and forceful banging starts on the door, Martin commits suicide by diving off the hotel balcony. A shocked Mitch looks down at the body and then at the door, which is on the verge of being breached.
The next scene is six weeks earlier and Mitch is wishing his daughter, Claire, a happy tenth birthday with a pancake breakfast. On his way out the door, Mitch and Abby discuss his six-month-old law practice and the fact that no revenue is coming in. As he leaves, he encounters Federal Marshall Louis Coleman and their conversation leads to the back story. Ten years ago, an attempt was made on Mitch's life, forcing him and a pregnant Abby into witness protection. With Joey Morolto, the head of the mob that was taken down my Mitch's testimony dead, the McDeeres have chosen to leave witness protection, settle in the Washington, D.C. area and start fresh. Despite Coleman warning him that Joey Jr. is stepping into his father's shoes, Mitch tells the agent that he is done running.
Mitch arrives at his office where he greets his private investigator brother Ray and his secretary, Tammy. Ray and Tammy have been dating forever and went into witness protection with Ray and Abby ten year before. We also learn that Ray is an ex-con. They discuss the case of Mrs. Sanderson and the lawsuit against a company whose faulty cardiac stent grievously injured her and from which they are hoping for an imminent settlement to help ease the cash crunch. Mitch also meets a new client assigned by the public defender's office, Sarah Holt, who is accused of murder.
At the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Mitch arrives 50 minutes late after being summoned by Judge Louis Trott, who wants to assign him another pro bono case. Mitch is dubious but he's swayed when he meets his new client, Donnell Heywood, a 14-year-old boy accused of murdering ate Nathan Williams by stabbing him in a playground fight. The boy seems in shock and cannot articulate much and manages only to tell Mitch that there was a knife and that he didn't want to do it, but was made to. Mitch meets with the boy father, Lamar Heywood, and explains that the first challenge in his defense will be the prosecutor's attempt to try Donnell as an adult, which will lead to the punishment of prison instead of the opportunity to for rehabilitation.
Mitch then has a drink with Andrew Palmer, with whom he plays basketball. Andrew asks him to consider joining his firm, Kinross & Clark, as the head of a new Criminal Division. Meanwhile, Ray heads over to Donnell's school looking for clues and meets up with security guard Manny Reyes. The two bond and Manny tells him what really happened: Donnell had the knife and he was beating up Tommy Breen when Nathan intervened and got stabbed in the neck. We also learn that Ray was imprisoned for manslaughter. Tammy speaks with the school's administration and learns that Donnell has a history of causing trouble and Nathan is an all-around stellar student, loved by teachers and ates alike.
The next day in court, Tommy Breen takes the stand. In his cross-examination, Mitch gets Tommy to admit that he was on the ground covering himself up as protection from Donnell's beating and therefore he could have seen what really happened (how Nathan died). After casting doubt on Tommy's testimony, in which he admits to having foolishly humiliated Donnell by posting a failing essay of his on the bulletin board. Judge Trott calls a recess in order to decide whether Donnell should be tried as a juvenile or an adult. Outside court, Nathan's parents confront Mitch and his mother says, "Shame on you, Mr. McDeere. What if it was your child?"
Back home, Claire is celebrating her birthday with a party and she is as happy as her parents have ever seen her because all her ates came to the party. Walking outside, Mitch notices a car parked by his house, which drives away when he moves towards it. After serving cake at the party, Mitch tells Abby about the Kinross & Clark offer. She doesn't think he's cut out to be part of a firm again and doesn't want him to give up so easily on his fledgling practice.
During the conversation, Mitch gets a phone call and he's told that he must come to the office immediately. When he arrives, Ray leads him to a construction worker, who tells Mitch that Nathan Williams' father, Richard, offered him $10,000 to kill Donnell. He tells Mitch that he came to him because he draws the line at killing children.