Category Archives: Film/Cinema

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

  • A review of the film West of Memphis, on the West Memphis 3
  • A Montana man seeking a new trial for a 2002 rape conviction faced his male accuser in court here Wednesday for the first time in 10 years – and heard the accuser take back an earlier recantation he made to officials with the Montana Innocence Project.  The alleged victim – now a 24-year-old prison inmate – said he falsely told Innocence Project officials in 2009 and 2010 that the jailhouse rape never occurred because he wanted them to quit bothering him about it.
  • Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in case in which Ohio Innocence Project has been denied DNA testing for a man on death row
  • Exoneree Arthur Whitfield pleads guilty to domestic violence offense
  • New documentary film about an alleged wrongful conviction called Incident at Devils Lake
  • The Arson Project releases two new reports about cognitive bias in arson investigations here and here

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

  •  In Canada, appellate court overturns exoneration that had been based in part on the unreliability of bite mark evidence
  • In Massachusetts, exoneree Shawn Drumgold (who had previously served more than a decade for a murder he didn’t commit) acquitted of drug charges
  • Ohio man who served 8 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit, sues state for alleged bogus testimony of toxicologist who put him behind bars
  •  In Ohio, oral arguments set for January 8th in front of Ohio Supreme Court in the case of Tryone Noling; the Ohio Innocence Project seeks DNA testing in the case
  • Profile of the Innocence Clinic at Wake Forest University
  • Controversial documentary ‘The Central Park Five’ plays at Chicago film festival as lawyers demand filmmaker Ken Burns turn over footage so city can defend itself in $250M federal lawsuit
  • Exoneree Edwin Arnell Chandler of Kentucky given $8.5 million in compensation by state of Kentucky
  • Exoneree James Bain speaks today at Florida Southern College

Powerful Documentary Focuses on Wrongful Conviction in Philippines, Airs in U.S. Tomorrow……

From source:

NEW YORK – “Give Up Tomorrow,” an astonishing documentary about an outrageous miscarriage of justice, comes to PBS on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Produced by Marty Syjuco and directed by Mike Collins, a longtime gay couple living in Brooklyn, N.Y., the documentary is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the “POV” (“Point Of View”) series on PBS.

The documentary won the Audience Award at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival and has captivated audiences around the world, including in the Philippines, where the judicial system failed spectacularly in a double murder case.

“Give Up Tomorrow” exposes the corruptness of the Filipino judicial system, the ineptness of its police force and criminal investigators, the stunning lack of evidence in the case, bribery, cronyism, the racial and economic divide within the country, and so many other issues.

In an exclusive interview with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Marty Syjuco describes how he and his partner spent more than seven years to complete the project that was fraught with danger and risk. They smuggled a camera into prison so they could get footage from behind bars, and had to figure out ways to get the tapes safely out of the country. They also had unprecedented access to the two central figures in the documentary:

• Paco Larranaga, a 19-year-old college student from a prominent Spanish-Filipino family in the Philippines who is framed for the presumed rape and murder of two Chinese-Filipino girls, whose family wielded important political connections to the nation’s president.

• Mrs. Chiong, mother of the missing girls, who manipulated the Filipino media to her advantage and befriended the one and only star witness who confessed he was part of the killings.

Syjuco said he was helped by his family connections – his brother is married to Paco’s older sister – and their status asmestizos — a mixed race group that traditionally dominates the social and political circles in the Philippines.

SDGLN: Why did you get involved in the making of this documentary?

Marty Syjuco: In 1999 Paco was first sentenced to life in prison. He appealed to the [Philippine] Supreme Court and his family patiently waited for the decision, Continue reading

Wednesday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Video:  director Ken Burns talks about his new documentary on the Central Park 5
  • Sarah Palin weighs in on the Jeffrey MacDonald case, which we previously blogged about here, here, and here
  • Cardiff University’s (Wales) Innocence Project is helping an organisation to provide evidence that may assist in a campaign to reform the doctrine of Joint Enterprise (or “Common Purpose”), which critics claim has led to many wrongful convictions in the UK. Described as a “lazy law”, there has seemingly been a marked increase in recent years in joint enterprise convictions. Some say this is due to a misguided attempt to address “gang culture” crimes. Prosecutors are charging multiple individuals all with a major offence rather than charging individuals to reflect more accurately their different involvement. In some cases, it is urged, there should be no charges where someone just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Recent exoneree Brian Banks signs contract to play professional football in Las Vegas

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

West Memphis Three case taking ugly turn

Wrongful conviction cases are often emotional minefields. This is particularly true when the case gets national media attention or it has multiple defendants and legal teams. So it’s not surprising that divisions are surfacing in the high-profile case of West Memphis Three, who were released last year after entering guilty pleas while asserting their innocence.

Evidence of rift between Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley surfaced last week, when The New York Times reported here that Baldwin and Echols weren’t speaking because of Echols’ criticism of Baldwin for allegedly delaying their release in his forthcoming book, Life After Death.

Yesterday, the Arkansas Times went into greater detail, reporting that “Echols unceremoniously throws fellow WM3’er Jason Baldwin and Baldwin’s defense team under the bus.” You can read the actual quotes and reactions here.

All of this upsets noted forensic scientist Brent Turvey, who helped turn the WM3 case around in the early stages.

“There are many rifts and divisions, some created by misinformation and some created by egos, that exist with the WM3 camps,” Turvey wrote on Facebook today. “The attorneys have been among the worst of these — each clamoring for publicity and credit. It is a strange and perverse thing to bear witness to. . . . When the films start rolling out, it will only get more obscene. It saddens the soul.”

Errol Morris examines Jeffrey MacDonald case in new book

Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris, who convincingly documented the innocence of Randall Dale Adams in his 1988 film The Thin Blue Line, has now tackled the bizarre 1970 murder case of Jeffrey MacDonald. Morris’ weapon of choice in this case, though, is a book rather than a movie. In A Wilderness of Error, Morris’ goal isn’t so much to prove MacDonald’s innocence but to indict the legal system that has made it virtually impossible to reach a sound conclusion because of the way the investigation was handled and the subsequent trial and appeals distorted the facts. Wendy Kaminer writes about the book here.

Thursday’s Quick Clicks…

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

“Hobbit” Director Peter Jackson and Damien Echols of the West Memphis 3…

From news source:

A CONVICTED US killer, set free through the help of filmmaker Peter Jackson, says New Zealand is now like a second home – and one where he might like to live permanently.

West of Memphis, directed by American filmmaker Amy Berg and produced by Jackson, had its international premiere in Wellington on Sunday night as part of the New Zealand Film Festival.

The film centres on Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three convicted of the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.

His co-accused, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, were both sentenced to life imprisonment for the crimes; Echols was sentenced to death.

But as evidence mounted to show they were wrongfully convicted, the trio were freed from prison last year under a rare plea bargain – which means they can never be exonerated, unless the real killer is brought to justice.

As the film’s closing credits rolled, the 800 audience members at the sold-out Embassy Theatre screening gave a standing ovation, ahead of a question and answer session with Jackson, Echols and his wife and number one campaigner, Lorri Davis.

While he would like to see the real killer brought to justice – with the film pointing toward a potential suspect – his concerns about the Arkansas justice system, which time and again rejected appeals and new evidence in the case, leaves him without much hope.

Without the killer being caught, the West Memphis Three cannot be exonerated.

“If they were to arrest the person who did it, it would mean they were admitting to making a mistake when they put us in prison, and if they do that, it once again opens them up to a lawsuit, and their number one priority will always be protecting themselves, protecting the state,” Echols said.

“If that means letting a murderer go free in order to keep from having to face a lawsuit, then that’s what they’ll do, so my hopes aren’t very high at all.”

Jackson, who with wife Fran Walsh has bankrolled Echols’ defence in recent years, says the film was borne out of frustration at how authorities were dealing with the case.

“We do think that Arkansas would prefer not to investigate the murder of these three little boys if they could get away with it, and so we are holding them to task and saying: ‘Here’s a possible person; you guys do your job properly and go figure it out’.”

Echols says New Zealand has been an incredibly healing place for him.

“Even when I hear the New Zealand accent now, it gives me that feeling of home, just because it took me in when I didn’t have anywhere else to go, and it gave me time just to rest.”

Echols added that he’s not adverse to the idea of living in New Zealand – and perhaps working with Jackson more – in future.

Tuesday’s Quick Clicks…

Friday’s Quick Clicks…

Redinocente Hosts First Latin American Innocence Conference

This past week lawyers, activists, and law professors from throughout Latin America gathered in Santiago, Chile for the First Latin American Innocence Conference. The conference was hosted by Redinocente (, an organization launched this year with the mission of assisting in the creation and support of innocence efforts throughout Latin America. The event made national headlines in Chile and had outstanding speakers including the former President of Bolivia (Eduardo Rodriguez), the Michael Moore of Argentina (Enrique Piñeyro), the National Public Defender of Chile (Georgy Schubert Studer), and exoneree Eric Volz.

There were presentations about innocence efforts underway in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Puerto Rico. The conference was attended by more than 70 representatives.

During the conference Redinocente hosted the Chilean premier of El Rati Horror Show, a film by Enrique Piñeyro which documents the story of Ariel Fernando Carrera who was wrongfully convicted of a high-profile murder of three people. Carrera was recently released by the Argentine Supreme Court after spending seven years in prison. The film has been widely credited for bringing the story to light.

There are already plans underway for next year’s conference which will be held in Bueno Aires.

Oscar-Nominated Director Working on Documentary Film About Michael Morton Case…

From the Republic:

AUSTIN, Texas — If there is going to be a movie about his wrongful conviction, 25 years in prison and ultimate exoneration, Michael Morton did not want it to begin with the words “Based on a true story.”

PHOTO: FILE - In this March 29, 2012 file photo from Austin, Texas, Michael Morton pauses while speaking to the public for the first time since he was freed from prison after spending nearly 25 years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit.  A documentary feature directed by two-time Academy Award nominee and former Texan Al Reinert,began filming three weeks ago. (AP Photo/, Ralph Barrera, File)  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM

But a documentary feature, particularly one written and directed by two-time Academy Award nominee and former Texan Al Reinert, was something Morton could get behind, and filming began recently.

“Truth is important to me,” he said. “And Al was generous enough to give me a lot of control and truly include me in the way things are done.”

Morton wanted three details to be included in the film: a life-changing conversion experience in prison, a focus on legal-system changes that could prevent future false convictions and an emphasis on his wife, Christine, who was murdered in their Williamson County home in 1986.

“Sometimes my wife gets left out in all the hubbub of me getting out of prison,” he said.

For a quarter-century, only a handful of friends, family and defense lawyers believed Morton did not kill Christine. The case against Morton fell apart last year when new DNA evidence pointed to another suspect and a key piece of forensic evidence — that Christine’s stomach contents pointed to a time of death that implicated only Morton — fell apart under modern scientific scrutiny. He was freed from prison in October.

Filming the documentary began over the Memorial Day weekend in the Georgetown courtroom where Morton was found guilty in 1987.

Morton didn’t expect his return to be a big deal. He was wrong.

“I didn’t think it was haunted or had some kind of evil mojo,” he said. “But actually sitting in there, actually speaking — it was much more emotional than I expected. It really caught me off guard.”

Morton said the overwhelming emotion was one of loss for Christine and his son, Eric, who was 3 when he was arrested and was raised by Christine’s sister.

“We were discussing my wife. They asked me about her, and one of the things pointed out to me is that I never really had time to mourn for her; very soon after Continue reading

Saturday’s Quick Clicks…

  • The Innocence Project offers to pay for DNA testing in the controversial  Kirstin Lobato case in Las Vegas
  • Devil’s Knot, feature film about West Memphis 3, already starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, adds more to its star-studded cast
  • Video of exoneree Anthony Graves talking about surviving solitary confinement
  • Until death, Texas inmate Larry Sims tried to clear his name
  • Stop, Frisk and DNA sample

Monday’s Quick Clicks…

  • Does innocence matter in Florida?
  • The Kentucky Innocence Project says it would be a “gross miscarriage of justice” not to free Susan Jean King, who is serving a 10-year sentence, in light of the confession by Richard Thomas Jarrell Jr., who offered details of the homicide that presumably only the killer would know
  • North Carolina makes it tougher for exonerees who originally pleaded guilty to obtain compensation
  • Michael Morton wrongful conviction case out of Texas to be subject of documentary film
  • Conference on the role journalists can play in exonerating the innocent