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Man freed from jail after 26 years

Veramocor

Senior member
Mar 2, 2004
390
1
0
A man was recently freed after 26 years. Another man who actually committed the murder died, and his lawyered released a signed confession that they had kept secret because of attorney-client privilege.

News story

I personally think this goes to far. Its one thing knowing your client is guilty and helping them be found not guilty for a crime. But I see a distinction of where your silence causes another man to be locked away for the better part of his life.

I personally would have taken being disbarred and handed over the confession. Or better yet found someway to get the information into the right hands without it being tracked back to me.
 

smack Down

Diamond Member
Sep 10, 2005
4,507
0
0
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,969
3,757
126
You would think the profession should have ethical standards that deal with and prevent this.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
345
126
Originally posted by: smack Down
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
I think this is the most insightful post.

Remember that the justice in this situation rests on the actual killer cnfessing/co-operating at all.

The law of unintended consequences kicks in here, when you 'fix' it by breaking the confidentiality - then, the actual killer wouldn't confess at all to his lawyers.

My own reaction, like probably most readers, was fury at the injustice, and the 'there's got to be a way' feeling.

I'm not going to rule out that there is a way, but I've pulled way back from that.

The blame (after the obvious blame on the killer for the crime itself) lies in the imperfection of investigations for finding the real killer, and then on the imperfections of the justice system for convicting the wrong man on what was obviously insufficient evidence, not obviously as in 'obvious to the jurors', but obvious in the deductive sense of 'since he was innocent, the evidence must have fallen short of actual proof'.

I have come to see the attorneys as victimized themselves by the killer, forced to carry this terrible burden of knowing and being unable to free the innocent man for those years.

Unfortunately, I don't know a solution to this. Any fix seems to cause more harm than good. For example, ay special treatment for 'special communications' by lawyers caught up in a bind like this lends itself to abuse - every defendant would want their lawyer looking for ways to game the system. If the system relied on trust it could be abused, and if it didn't, it'd violate the confidentiality and people wouldn't tell their lawyers at all.

A horror like this is one reason we all need to take improvements and reforms to the justice system as a priority - esoteric issues can become nightmares for people.

When people react to issues with those systems with simplistic 'who cares about those criminals' apathy, they're part of the problem.

Unfortunately, not only are there bastards out there like the murderer who let someone stay in jail, but I bet many here would be hard-pressed, if facing a long jail term for a crime they committed, to give up a 'free pass' given to them by the wrong person being convicted and go serve the decades to free the innocent person, even if they felt badly; we just have some imperfections in the system with terrible consequences for people.

This is one reason why I react with anger when I see uninformed, knee-jerk comments from people complaining about how the system 'gives more rights to the criminal than the victim'. Those rights would be awfully important if they kept you from being convicted for a crime you didn't commit. While I also may have some more concerns about the actual criminals than some do - for example, I'm a fan of the anti-prison rape group SPR (Stop Prisoner Rape), much of the issue is protecting innocents.
 

CallMeJoe

Diamond Member
Jul 30, 2004
6,940
5
81
Originally posted by: Craig234
...The law of unintended consequences kicks in here, when you 'fix' it by breaking the confidentiality - then, the actual killer wouldn't confess at all to his lawyers...

...When people react to issues with those systems with simplistic 'who cares about those criminals' apathy, they're part of the problem...This is one reason why I react with anger when I see uninformed, knee-jerk comments from people complaining about how the system 'gives more rights to the criminal than the victim'. Those rights would be awfully important if they kept you from being convicted for a crime you didn't commit. While I also may have some more concerns about the actual criminals than some do - for example, I'm a fan of the anti-prison rape group SPR (Stop Prisoner Rape), much of the issue is protecting innocents.
:thumbsup: :thumbsup:
I don't have much sympathy for violent, habitual criminals; I do, however, have a boatload of sympathy for suspects, for the wrongfully convicted, and for non-violent offenders. We must protect the rights of even the worst of the guilty to ensure we protect the rights of the others.

edit: quote editing error.
 

Farang

Lifer
Jul 7, 2003
10,921
3
0
The only thing the lawyers could have done was appeal to the governor, but without naming Wilson it would've been hard to him to pardon a convicted murderer off of the basis of two lawyers assuring him that the real killer was in prison for life. Would have been worth a shot, though.
 

ManyBeers

Platinum Member
Aug 30, 2004
2,519
1
81
Just because Wilson admitted guilt, that doesn't make it so. His lawyers didn't demand irrefutable proof to substantiate he claims.......Coventry and Kunz brought Wilson to the jail law library and this, they say, was when they confronted him and he made his unapologetic confession. They didn't press for details. "None of us had any doubt," Coventry says..... Lawyers not pressing for details to an admission of murder which could exonerate another INNOCENT man....COME ON. Why didn't they? What lawyer in his right mind wouldn't want to know the 'details'?.This delayed confession is useless. The guy (Wilson) is a lying fvck.

So i guess everything their double-murder client says is the "whole truth and nothing but the truth"...
...hmmm.
 

Gunslinger08

Lifer
Nov 18, 2001
13,236
2
81
Regardless of the legal ramifications, don't people have some basic code of ethics and morals they live by? How the hell could you live with yourself knowing you had the knowledge to free an innocent man? I guess some people just weren't raised correctly to value other people's lives.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,661
755
126
Originally posted by: joshsquall
Regardless of the legal ramifications, don't people have some basic code of ethics and morals they live by? How the hell could you live with yourself knowing you had the knowledge to free an innocent man? I guess some people just weren't raised correctly to value other people's lives.
because we arent a country who rules by morals. We rule by law, and all of our laws have backlash of some sort.

If you forcefully (or not) excuse atty/client priv, and it's given a pass, we will open a HUGE floodgate we dont want to open. It's like the policy of not reporting people who have AIDS. They keep the number but not the name (confidential testing also). You start revealing names for whatever reason, people quit getting tested. It's also like double jeapardy. THAT has some bittersweet blowback.
 

Double Trouble

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
9,276
103
106
Doing away with attorney client privilege is a terrible idea, it would lead to all sorts of issues. How the heck can someone get proper representation if he/she can't really openly tell their attorney everything for fear of the consequences? No, that's not the answer.

In my mind there has to be a mechanism where an attorney who has information that would prove the innocence of someone wrongfully convicted could do so without that information being used against the client of that attorney. Say for example a man (A) is wrongfully convicted, and another man B confesses to the crime to his attorney. There should be a provision in the law that allows the attorney to report that information to a specifically designated judge, who could act based on that information to free A, without revealing to the prosecutors that it was incriminating information against B that was the reason.
 

Gunslinger08

Lifer
Nov 18, 2001
13,236
2
81
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: joshsquall
Regardless of the legal ramifications, don't people have some basic code of ethics and morals they live by? How the hell could you live with yourself knowing you had the knowledge to free an innocent man? I guess some people just weren't raised correctly to value other people's lives.
because we arent a country who rules by morals. We rule by law, and all of our laws have backlash of some sort.

If you forcefully (or not) excuse atty/client priv, and it's given a pass, we will open a HUGE floodgate we dont want to open. It's like the policy of not reporting people who have AIDS. They keep the number but not the name (confidential testing also). You start revealing names for whatever reason, people quit getting tested. It's also like double jeapardy. THAT has some bittersweet blowback.
I said nothing about country. I'm speaking about the lawyer (or you, or anyone) as an individual. How do people who knowingly do horrible things live with themselves?
 

Mxylplyx

Diamond Member
Mar 21, 2007
4,197
100
106
I certainly dont envy defense lawyers. They are compelled to make morally repugnant decisions in order to serve a useful purpose in the court system. If there is a god, I bet they are sweating balls come judgement time.
 

Dari

Lifer
Oct 25, 2002
17,136
37
91
lol. The guy was poor and black. You actually think justice was the motivating factor in solving this case? The motivating factor was solving it.

IMHO, the lawyer should've asked his client to tell the truth. Hell, his client died in jail. I'm sure after thinking about it remorse would've set in and the client would've given the lawyer the go-ahead to tell the truth.

EDIT: What good is a lawyer who can't even convince his client to do the right thing?
 

Stoneburner

Diamond Member
May 29, 2003
3,493
0
76
Originally posted by: Dari
lol. The guy was poor and black. You actually think justice was the motivating factor in solving this case? The motivating factor was solving it.

IMHO, the lawyer should've asked his client to tell the truth. Hell, his client died in jail. I'm sure after thinking about it remorse would've set in and the client would've given the lawyer the go-ahead to tell the truth.

EDIT: What good is a lawyer who can't even convince his client to do the right thing?


You made me laugh.
 

KAZANI

Senior member
Sep 10, 2006
527
0
0
Originally posted by: smack Down
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
Easy to say, when you are not one of those who had their life stolen from them by a foul legal bureaucracy.
 

Dari

Lifer
Oct 25, 2002
17,136
37
91
Originally posted by: KAZANI
Originally posted by: smack Down
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
Easy to say, when you are not one of those who had their life stolen from them by a foul legal bureaucracy.
It's not the legal system. It's the lawyer and the prosecutor. The former didn't convince his client to come clean and the latter just wanted to solve the case. Add the fact that the victim here was poor and black and this is considered normal.
 

jonks

Lifer
Feb 7, 2005
13,926
18
81
Originally posted by: Craig234
Originally posted by: smack Down
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
I think this is the most insightful post.

Remember that the justice in this situation rests on the actual killer cnfessing/co-operating at all.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,661
755
126
Originally posted by: joshsquall
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: joshsquall
Regardless of the legal ramifications, don't people have some basic code of ethics and morals they live by? How the hell could you live with yourself knowing you had the knowledge to free an innocent man? I guess some people just weren't raised correctly to value other people's lives.
because we arent a country who rules by morals. We rule by law, and all of our laws have backlash of some sort.

If you forcefully (or not) excuse atty/client priv, and it's given a pass, we will open a HUGE floodgate we dont want to open. It's like the policy of not reporting people who have AIDS. They keep the number but not the name (confidential testing also). You start revealing names for whatever reason, people quit getting tested. It's also like double jeapardy. THAT has some bittersweet blowback.
I said nothing about country. I'm speaking about the lawyer (or you, or anyone) as an individual. How do people who knowingly do horrible things live with themselves?
Well, again, morality, as demonstrated on this very forum, is subjective. What I find reprehensable you might find just fine. Plus theres the mental health issue. Sociopaths have no concience to speak of, so where does guilt play into that? Too many factors. But we arent talking about the feeling of guilt, but rather guilty under the law.
 

Toasthead

Diamond Member
Aug 27, 2001
6,621
0
0
Originally posted by: Veramocor
A man was recently freed after 26 years. Another man who actually committed the murder died, and his lawyered released a signed confession that they had kept secret because of attorney-client privilege.

News story

I personally think this goes to far. Its one thing knowing your client is guilty and helping them be found not guilty for a crime. But I see a distinction of where your silence causes another man to be locked away for the better part of his life.

I personally would have taken being disbarred and handed over the confession. Or better yet found someway to get the information into the right hands without it being tracked back to me.
If not for the privilege, im sure the dude would have never told the atty he did it.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,661
755
126
Originally posted by: Toasthead
Originally posted by: Veramocor
A man was recently freed after 26 years. Another man who actually committed the murder died, and his lawyered released a signed confession that they had kept secret because of attorney-client privilege.

News story

I personally think this goes to far. Its one thing knowing your client is guilty and helping them be found not guilty for a crime. But I see a distinction of where your silence causes another man to be locked away for the better part of his life.

I personally would have taken being disbarred and handed over the confession. Or better yet found someway to get the information into the right hands without it being tracked back to me.
If not for the privilege, im sure the dude would have never told the atty he did it.
Thats actually a very good point. A freedom that would not exist were atty/client priv be abolished or even catagoritized.
 

KAZANI

Senior member
Sep 10, 2006
527
0
0
Originally posted by: Dari
Originally posted by: KAZANI
Originally posted by: smack Down
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
Easy to say, when you are not one of those who had their life stolen from them by a foul legal bureaucracy.
It's not the legal system. It's the lawyer and the prosecutor. The former didn't convince his client to come clean and the latter just wanted to solve the case. Add the fact that the victim here was poor and black and this is considered normal.
It is the legal system that allows lawyers to lie. This is a fundamental flaw. You cannot expect justice when you allow lying. It is THAT simple.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
71,826
22,000
136
Originally posted by: KAZANI
Originally posted by: Dari
Originally posted by: KAZANI
Originally posted by: smack Down
Think of it the other way with out attorney client privilege the person would still be in jail.
Easy to say, when you are not one of those who had their life stolen from them by a foul legal bureaucracy.
It's not the legal system. It's the lawyer and the prosecutor. The former didn't convince his client to come clean and the latter just wanted to solve the case. Add the fact that the victim here was poor and black and this is considered normal.
It is the legal system that allows lawyers to lie. This is a fundamental flaw. You cannot expect justice when you allow lying. It is THAT simple.
What is the solution? How do you tell who is lying and who isn't?
 

KAZANI

Senior member
Sep 10, 2006
527
0
0
That is not the point. What is important is to not allow deceit in principle and at the same time not to entangle honest consciences.
 
Oct 30, 2004
11,450
20
81
Originally posted by: joshsquall
Regardless of the legal ramifications, don't people have some basic code of ethics and morals they live by? How the hell could you live with yourself knowing you had the knowledge to free an innocent man? I guess some people just weren't raised correctly to value other people's lives.
What if doing that meant getting disbarred and losing your career (and essentially, your life as you know it)? If they had come forward, would the evidence have even been admissible since it was protected by the privilege?

I think those two attorneys were caught between a rock and a hard place. I can't say that I wouldn't have done the exact same thing had I been in their situation. Are you willing to sacrifice everything you've worked for since you were in grade school for a stranger's freedom?
 

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