Friday, May 3, 2013

Wrongful convictions: rare or common?

just when I think I have my life's Maurice Carter chapter buried away, along comes another presentation of the powerful play JUSTICE FOR MAURICE HENRY CARTER.

I've seen it enough times now so that I look around to gauge audience reaction to certain key issues, rather than watch the actors. People react in disbelief. They cannot believe that a trial can end successfully for a prosecutor who has no physical evidence, no fingerprints, no evidence, no motive, and not one credible witness. They gasp when they hear Maurice Carter's terrible court-appointed defense attorney say that he has no questions. He had the key witness, the only true witness to the crime who insisted that Maurice was not the shooter. Yet he blew it.

I'm so used to the whole issue of wrongful convictions that nothing surprises me. But in every performance of our play, people are surprised. And when the whole subject comes to the forefront in my mind, I become angry once again on behalf of those people behind bars who do not belong there.

That's the message that the play must continue to convey: There ARE wrongful convictions out there, lots of them. There are cops and prosecutors who arrest and convict the wrong guy. There are inept court-appointed attorneys failing to do their job for those who cannot afford legal counsel.

And the message to you and me: Complacency is a sin.

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