Monday, March 10, 2008

CBS 60 Minutes Story with Video - 26-Year Secret Kept Innocent Man In Prison

(CBS) This is a story about an innocent man who has been in prison for 26 years while two attorneys who knew he was innocent stayed silent. They did so because they felt they had no choice.

Alton Logan was convicted of killing a security guard at a McDonald's in Chicago in 1982. Police arrested him after a tip and got three eyewitnesses to identify him. Logan, his mother and brother all testified he was at home asleep when the murder occurred. But a jury found him guilty of first degree murder.

Now new evidence reveals that Logan did not commit that murder. But as correspondent Bob Simon reports, the evidence was not new to those two attorneys, who knew it all along but say they couldn't speak out until now.

Alton Logan's story cuts to the core of America's justice system.
Full Story here CBS "60 Minutes"Here
Watch "cbs "60 Minutes" Video Here

Here is what The Carnegie Legal Reporting Program @ Newhouse supported by the Carnegie Journalism Initiative says about the "60 Minutes Story"
"60 Minutes" drops the ball in wrongful conviction story
CBS "60 Minutes"
Mon, March 10, 2008

Shame on "60 Minutes," correspondent Bob Simon, and producers Robert C. Anderson and Casey Morgan for squandering a chance to tell an important story well.
Their report last night on the case of Alton Logan was "60 Minutes" at its best (powerful on-camera interviews with all the key players) and at its worst (cheap emotion, lacking any intellectual engagement with the real issues). Logan has served 26 years in prison for the murder of a security guard in a Chicago robbery.
Today a judge hears arguments that Logan is innocent and deserves to be freed or retried. Revelations by two defense lawyers triggered the hearing, and the CBS story.
The lawyers represented a man who confessed convincingly to them, before Logan's conviction, that he was the real killer. They came forward only after their client died last November.
It's a shocking and sad story about an injustice no matter what you think of the lawyers. But, with those two lawyers telling Simon how and why they did what they did, it tees up a story that might answer two key legal questions:
Did they have to keep silent?
And why should client confidentiality trump the truth?Simon and his producers skip past those questions while going long on drama and moralizing. Simon opens the report by describing the defense lawyers' motivation: "because they thought they had no choice.
See what you think." And then he proceeds to deny the viewer any opportunity to think, based on facts and perspective on what Illinois' rules say, about the principles at stake.
The lawyers' on-camera quotes don't help much.

They do make the point, over and over, that their loyalty had to be to their client, Andrew Wilson. But they don't come close to explaining why that's important. "It's just a requirement of the law," one lawyer, Dale Coventry, tells Simon. "The system wouldn't work without it
Well, why not? Simon doesn't ask them -- or anyone else.
At another point, Simon intones that the choice of concealing or revealing the wrongful conviction seems easy.
"It's perfectly obvious to someone who isn't a lawyer," he says to bait his lawyer-interviewees, and to play to the story's blatant lawyer-bashing theme.
Simon, et al., fail to summon any other sources to explain why it shouldn't be perfectly obvious -- or at least arguable -- that we need the system as it is to prevent lawyers from betraying clients whenever they or others decide the betrayal would serve a higher good.
And why has Logan served another four months since Wilson's death without even getting a hearing until now, much less a prompt release? "It's all rather complicated," Simon tells his audience in a patronizing dodge.
Too bad neither he nor his producers and employer see it as their job to turn complicated facts and arguments into a coherent story. Instead, we get spleen-venting and weepy melodrama.

1 comment:

William Newmiller said...

How unfortunate that all the blame seems to have fallen on the defense attorneys. Surely the police and prosecutor are responsible in some significant way. And what of the jury? As public education has placed less emphasis on civic responsibility, fewer people understand concepts such as "presumed innocence" and "reasonable doubt." Casting aspersions excusively on defense attorneys will only further disadvantage defendants.

Bill Newmiller