Friday, February 08, 2008

How in &%(***&# Does This Go On?

On January 11, 1982, armed robbers murdered Lloyd Wickliffe, a security guard at a McDonalds on South Halsted in Chicago. Edgar Hope was arrested and charged with the murder. Three witnesses identified a second man, Alton Logan, as being Hope's accessory. Hope told his attorneys he didn't know Logan, that he had never seen him before, and that, in fact, Andrew Wilson was his trigger man. Logan's attorney was never told of Hope's testimony. Wilson's attorneys knew, and they knew because Wilson told them. But they kept quiet. They let Alton Logan spend 26 years in prison for a crime they knew he didn't commit. They waited until Wilson died before coming forward three weeks ago.


Now what? Life is not a dress rehearsal. We don't get back 26 minutes or days. Certainly not 26 years. I've never served time, but my friends who have describe the ways in which the prison system is set up to demean, reify, and bore its inmates into submission. I couldn't deal with it well for 26 hours, let alone a relentless life sentence. And for a crime I never committed?

Wilson's attorneys, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, say they were bound by client-attorney privilege not to squeal.

Excuse me. You know you are participating in a gross miscarriage of justice, but you're too ethical to stop it?

Help me out here, lawyers. Why is it better for Logan's life to be wasted than for you to talk?

And my brother and sister bloggers, what possible steps can Coventry and Kunz take now to make Logan's life==let's not say whole--it can never be that--but less pain-filled and diminished than it is now?

Sara Paretsky

18 comments:

Dana King said...

I understand about privilege (I'm NOT a lawyer), but this is ridiculous. First, Hope's lawyer should have easily found a way to tel without violating privilege; his client wasn't affected. (Might have been nice to let the prosecutors know they had the wrong guy, too.) When that didn't happen, Wilson's attorneys should have been able to find some way to get word to someone without giving up who they were, how they knew, and who they represented. At least put someone on notice. Privilege is critical, but they're officers of the court, and justice is supposed to be their end goal.

Barbara D'Amato said...

I asked Tony about this, Sara. He's taught ethics frequently. While he doesn't know all the facts of this case, he says, first, that attorney-client privilege is not absolute. For instance, if your client tells you he's going to commit a crime, that isn't protected. He thinks Hope's lawyer should have written to the bar saying that he was going to tell the other defense lawyer what his client said. He doubts they would rule on it, but would likely not complain.
[Tony is Anthony D'Amato, who is a professor at Northwestern Law School.]

Maryann Mercer said...

I doubt Coventry and Kurtz can do anything to alleviate the pain Mr. Logan endured, although it would be interesting to see them try. Stealing 26 years of someone's life? Were these men not accessories after the fact, or at the very least obstructors of justice? Granted, I don't know the law, but common decency suggests to me that they are now responsible for this man; obtaining his release, pardon, finding him employment, whatever can ease his way back into the outside world. And here's a question--does Mr Logan have any recourse? Would a civil suit stand a chance? How do you measure the value of time and opportunity lost?

Sean Chercover said...

A terrible case, and just one of many thousands. The number of innocent people languishing in prisons across the country should shock and offend all of us.

And the injustice is not only done to the wrongly-convicted and their families. It is also an injustice done to the victims of the original crimes and their families - for every wrongly-convicted inmate, there is a guilty person still walking the streets.

If this issue resonates with you, please visit The Innocence Project, and consider giving them your support...

The Innocence Project

Sara Paretsky said...

Barb, thanks for getting Tony's input on this--at least it's reassuring to know that this terrible malfeasance isn't sanctioned by the legal profession. Sean, thanks for posting about the Innocence Project--I'm on it!

Rosemary Harris said...

If you ever have the chance to see the play The Exonerated, you must go. Absolutely chilling..six stories of people convicted of murder and years later found to have been innocent.

Michael Dymmoch said...

How many people pay attention to the court system until they're victimized or called for Jury duty?

How many bother to take a list of unqualified judges into the voting booth?

How many even pick up the phone to complain when another bad cop gets away with something?

"The Salvation of the community is the Watchfulness of the citizen."

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