Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted


Volume 2, Issue 4

Why Books and Movies about Innocent People are Important

By Hans Sherrer

By shining the light of publicity on real-life cases of wrongful conviction, Justice: Denied is contributing to chronicling how regularly that injustice occurs in state and federal courts nationwide.

However, even though documenting law enforcement travesties and bearing witness to their human impact is important, the audience attracted to Justice: Denied magazine and web site is limited. On the other hand, millions of people who are unaware of Justice: Denied are exposed in books and movies to stories of innocent people wrongly accused, and treated by police, prosecutors, judges and jailers as being guilty of a crime.

Those stories can have a powerful impact on a reader or viewer whether they are based on a true story or a factually based work of fiction. Snow Falling on Cedars and Brokedown Palace, for example, are fictional stories just as compelling as The Hurricane, In the Name of the Father, and other movies based on an actual case of a wrongful conviction. To varying degrees, they all aid in publicizing both the mechanics of how wrongful convictions are generated with clockwork like regularity, and the bureaucratic and political reasons underlying why they have occurred for centuries.

Therefore, the work of Justice: Denied is complemented by books and movies relating stories of innocent people. Furthermore, the writers, publishers, producers and distributors willing to gamble time, money and energy on the commercial success of such projects will continue to do so if their effort is rewarded by enough readers and viewers.

One way people interested in publicizing the plight of the wrongly prosecuted can do so, is to request their local public and college libraries to purchase books and videos of movies reviewed or mentioned in Justice: Denied. There are over 20,000 libraries in the United States patronized by millions of people. Some of those libraries are now checking out more videos than books. All libraries have a budget for the purchase of new items and the suggestions of patrons provides valuable input on how that money is spent. Of course, the same is true of magazine subscription, and there may be libraries that will subscribe to Justice: Denied if the suggestion is made to them.

There is a bibliography of over a dozen non-fiction books related to wrongful convictions available to read at: http://www.justicedenied.org/bibliography/bibliography.htm. It was also available in the hard copy on pages 38 and 39 of the August 2000 (Volume 2 Issue 1) of Justice Denied. The following is a compilation of some of the films relating true-life and fictional stories of innocent people wrongly accused of committing crimes. Several have been reviewed in Justice Denied and they should all be available on videocassette.

Films based on real cases of innocent people:

"In the Blink of an Eye" (1996) Starring Mimi Rogers and Veronica Hamel

"Indictment: The McMartin Trial" (1995) Starring James Woods and Mercedes Rule

"In the Name of the Father" (1993) Starring Daniel Day Lewis and Emma Thompson

"True Believer" (1989) Starring James Woods and Robert Downey Jr.

"A Cry in the Dark" (1988) Starring Meryl Streep

"The Wrong Man" (1956) Starring Henry Fonda and Vera Miles. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

"Call Northside 777" (1948) Starring James Stewart, Richard Conte and Lee J. Cobb

"The Ox-Box Incident" (1943) Starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn

“Guilt By Association” (2001) (Court TV original production) Staring Mercedes Ruehl

Fictional films of innocent people wrongfully accused of a crime:

"A Map of the World" (1999) Starring Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore

"Brokedown Palace" (1999) Starring Kate Beckinsale and Lou Diamond Phillips

"Life" (2000) Starring Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy

"Snow Falling on Cedars" (1998) Starring Ethan Hawke, Max von Sydow and Sam Shepard

"The Fugitive"(1993) TV series (1964-1966) Movie starred Harrison Ford. TV series starred David Janssen. Inspired by the case of Dr. Sam Sheppard's wrongful conviction of murdering his wife in 1954.

"Presumed Innocent" (1990) Starring Harrison Ford

"An Innocent Man" (1989) Starring Tom Selleck

"American Gigolo" (1980) Starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton

"...And Justice For All" (1979) Starring Al Pacino

"12 Angry Men" (1957) Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, et al.

“Young and Innocent (1937) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

“Saboteur” (1943) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

“I Confess” (1957) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Montgomery Clift and Karl Malden.

“Frenzy” (1967) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

“The People Against O’Hara” (1951) Starring Spencer Tracy and James Arness