Gee, thanks for finally telling the truth.

I am mad. So mad I can hardly contain myself.

I’ve just finished reading an article about a man who has been wrongly imprisoned for murder for 26 years.  Andrew Wilson, who died in prison last year, had flat-out confessed to his lawyers that he was the sole shooter in a 1982 killing. Not only was Alton Logan not responsible for the murder of a guard at a McDonald’s, the killer didn’t even know him!

So here is why I am angry:

The lawyers knew Logan was innocent. They wrote an affidavit of what they had heard Wilson confess — and then they sealed the envelope and stuck it in a box for 26 long years. They did not tell anyone that Logan was innocent because (wait for it…) it was against the client-lawyer privilege.

“(T)hey felt powerless — aware of information that could free a man they believed to be innocent, but unable to do anything with that knowledge.”

Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, the lawyers on the case, are painted as some sort of heroes in the article for finally digging out the affidavit that could free Logan from prison. Heroes. So while the heroes were golfing at the country club, vacationing with their families, living a life of relative ease, an innocent man was doing hard time in an Illinois pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

They never once risked their careers or put themselves out there to save this man. I understand that there are laws against breaking privilege, but sometimes you need to take your chances. If you get punished for doing right, then it is the law that is screwed up, and being prominent lawyers they probably could have done some cool stuff to fix it. 

Instead, they just sat on the information and told themselves they were good men, while Alton Logan lost his entire life. He has no country club membership, no vacation photos. He doesn’t even have a wife and kids! He’s in his fifties now, still sitting in Joliet and hoping they will free him (because even that is not a guarantee due to the crazy legal system).

An innocent man went to prison and a group of self-righteous jerks clucked their tongues and said, “Oh, I wish I could help. Sorry.”

Big heroes, huh?

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7 Comments

Filed under Rants

7 responses to “Gee, thanks for finally telling the truth.

  1. Here’s the rule they would have been bound by in Pennsylvania (I’m sure Illinois has a similar rule):

    Rule 1.6. Confidentiality of Information.

    (a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, except for disclosures that are impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, and except as stated in paragraphs (b) and (c).

    (b) A lawyer shall reveal such information if necessary to comply with the duties stated in Rule 3.3 [prohibiting a lawyer from offering evidence he knows is false].

    (c) A lawyer may reveal such information to the extent that the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:

    (1) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;

    (2) to prevent the client from committing a criminal act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another;

    (3) to prevent, mitigate or rectify the consequences of a client’s criminal or fraudulent act in the commission of which the lawyer’s services are being or had been used; or

    (4) to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim or disciplinary proceeding against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client; or

    (5) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules; or

    (6) to effectuate the sale of a law practice consistent with Rule 1.17.

    (d) The duty not to reveal information relating to representation of a client continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated.

    In this case, either c(1) or c(3) may have applied and permitted the lawyers to disclose the info. But probably not.

  2. The underlying idea is that a defendant must feel free to talk about his case in detail with his lawyer without fear that the lawyer will use that info against him. If lawyers start revealing confidential conversations, the system will break down and defendants will not talk to their lawyers.

  3. That is all well and good but we’re talking about a man’s life here.

  4. (note to other readers, jack and i have been battling about this offline as well…)

  5. Evan

    Maybe they should give him a pen

  6. Hey Di,
    Let’s hear your comments about how innocent Mumia Abu-Jamal is.
    There are plenty of new witnesses that are willing to testify, so he should get out of jail, right?

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