When he is just 12 years old, John Goodnight’s parents, poor farmers in Wyoming, decide to move east. Climbing aboard the stagecoach, John and his parents meet a respectable man, Judge Shaw, and his wife, who are also traveling. The Judge, an honest and honorable man, fascinates John. John is asking him about his job when, suddenly, outlaws ride up and start shooting at the coach, which careens out of control.
John gets thrown from the car, and watches from the brush as both his parents and the Judge are murdered. The lone surviving outlaw takes John’s mother’s wedding ring off her hand before riding away. John notices an image of a scorpion branded on his horse before he runs back to the coach and finds the Judge’s wife, miraculously still alive.
Twenty years later, in 1880s Chicago, John is a smooth-talking lawyer who never loses a case. However, John has a wild side that lands him in jail occasionally, and he is called on by the governor. John, expecting to get his law license revoked for his bad behavior, is surprised when the governor appoints John to be a circuit judge in the Wyoming Territory—the most lawless, ungoverned, and dangerous territory in America. (Source: Hallmark Movie Channel)
John Goodnight crosses paths with a stagecoach under attack and comes to the rescue of its passengers, one of whom is a beautiful woman who may or may not have been a prisoner being transported by a detective who did not survive the attack. Their journey together takes them to a gambling riverboat, where Goodnight discovers her true identity.