Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Innocent and the Shammed

My first OpEd for the New York Times, "The Innocent and the Shammed," is published today.

I wrote this in response to a number of calls and e-mails mostly from prosecutors outraged about the implications of the crappy TV show "In Justice". The New York Times was very accomodating, which is more than I can say for ABC-TV who, when I tried to fact-check the original language of my piece -- quoting the early promo that claimed "Every Year Thousands of Americans Are Wrongly Convicted," the show's publicist 1) blew me off, 2) demanded that I get an editor from the TIMES to call her, and then 3) dodged that editor's call when he tried to verify the language.

Maybe not a "Million Little Lies," but a goodly number!


  1. James Frey made much much money with his book unfortunetly!

  2. Are you the same person who unjustly led and/or supervised the prosecution of Sandra Jones and her young son?

  3. From what I read in the book, the DA with-held evidence. Is that accurate?

  4. No fact check needed -- the promo for "In Justice" did indeed claim that thousands of Americans are wrongly convicted each year. I was startled to hear it the first time, so I made sure to listen for it during future airings.

    What a crock. Thank God that show is destined for the ash heap of Hollywood.

  5. It's taken me 6 years to answer but you bet I prosecuted Michael Jones, Jr. - then 15 - for murder for the shooting death of Wifred Gertulla in 1985. It is the only homicide trial chief defense attorney Gerry Spence ever lost. Jones was found to have committed manslaughter in the first degree - as a juvenile. A couple of years later the conviction was set aside with absolutely no reason given, even though is was supposedly a "de novo review" meaning the appeals court is supposed to review the entire case factually unlike adult cases. But since they never ordered the evidence it seems unlikely they ever did. Spence got the entire Lincoln County DA's Office thrown off Sandra Jones' murder case. The THIRD judge in the case(Harl Haas), who thought Spence was the best thing since sliced bread, was so anxious to toady to Spence he almost immediately dismissed Sandra's murder charge. He was reversed by the Oregon Appeals Court and years later in what was something of a farce of a trial in Portland Sandra Jones was acquitted.
    Spence took 15 years to write a poorly-received book called "The Smoking Gun" about both cases.
    To answer "anon" - no I was never found to have concealed evidence.
    I have never been found by the State Bar or an appellate court to have committed any form of professional misconduct. In the book review section there are two book reviews I wrote about "Teh Smoking Gun," the main gist of which is "any lawyer can get an innocent person acquitted but it takes a REALLY good lawyer to overcome overwhelming evidence of guilt" - like in Sandra Jones' case a photo of her with a "smoking gun" at her shoulder.