As Joseph Andrews prepares to close his unsuccessful one-person law office in Newport, RI, Gretchen Barrow enters his life. She has been charged with the murder of her very wealthy, estranged husband. Although she was in Las Vegas on a gambling trip at the time of his death, the police believe she hired one of her many lovers to kill Mr. Barrow. Many surprises take place as Andrews bungles his way through the murder trial, his first. His efforts are thwarted by a judge who is related to the prosecuting attorney, but are aided by the work of a 90-year-old private detective, hired to assist. Andrews finds comfort in several hundred thousand dollars regularly supplied by Mrs. Barrow as fees, and the encouragement of spectators thronging the courtroom during the trial -- many of Mrs. Barrows lovers, both male and female, and a number of Andrews' clients, who have been charged with public urination.