Wrongful Conviction

‘They stole [accreditation] from us. Sneaky little ABA. Wicked, tricksy, false!’ — FAMU Law

Ed. note: Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, we will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will be back in full swing tomorrow. We hope you enjoy your day off (or feel free to lament your lack thereof in the comments).

* “[T]hey don’t want to hear nothing.” Vedel Browne, the man accused of robbing Stephen Breyer at machete-point while the justice was vacationing in his home in the Caribbean, now claims that he’s innocent, mon. [St. Kitts-Nevis Observer]

* You know what, the farmer in the Super Bowl commercial probably didn’t have to deal with bullsh*t like Monsanto’s seed patents, but today’s farmers do, and they’ll argue their case before the Supreme Court this week. [New York Times]

* “I’m a betting man. And I would bet and give odds that Sullivan & Cromwell has never said that publicly.” Who dares question S&C’s stance in the hot mess that is Herbalife? None other than Carl Icahn. [Am Law Daily]

* Here’s an important Biglaw math lesson that’s been provided to us via California-based firms like Irell & Manella, Munger Tolles, and Orrick: a little revenue minus a lot of partners equals profitability. [Recorder]

* Amid a flurry of filings on Valentine’s Day, love must’ve been a battlefield for the embattled Dewey & LeBoeuf refugees who were in desperate search of their once promised 2011 bonuses. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* From the department of things that suck: having to defend your office’s alleged “underhanded tactics” in a $150 million wrongful conviction case while you’re trying to get re-elected as district attorney. [New York Times]

* We got bitches in the office lawyerin’ on, and they ain’t leavin’ till six in the mornin’ — unless they want to be fired. An ex-Travers Smith trainee claims she was canned for leaving the firm “early”… at 6:30 a.m. [Telegraph]

* If it weren’t for Cosmo, this woman wouldn’t have known her landlord was an alleged creeper. A Maryland lawyer now faces criminal charges for allegedly filming his female tenants in the nude. [Washington Post]

* “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious!” The ABA officially put Florida A&M on notice that its law school accreditation may be in jeopardy if they don’t shape up in terms of bar passage. [Orlando Sentinel]

* What do you do the second you step off a cruise ship that’s been described as “a floating toilet, a floating petri dish, a floating hell”? You grab the very first lawyers you see, and sue! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]

*James Henderson, former senior counsel at the American Center for Law & Justice, is no longer with the ACLJ — and there are interesting theories as to why. [Metro Weekly]

* Part one of an epic story about a Texan’s wrongful murder conviction, written by Pamela Colloff, one of the best investigative reporters in the state, if not the country. Get a drink and a comfy chair; you won’t want to get up for a while. [Texas Monthly]

* Chief Judge Alex Kozinski is going to be in pictures — or a picture, at least. Check out Atlas Shrugged: Part II, which hits theaters tomorrow. [Atlas Shrugged]

* Our tipster provided a nifty blurb for this article: “This has everything. Bumbling Frenchmen dependent on a heroic (albeit opportunistic) American to save the day? Check. Twenty-first century application of 19th century maritime law? Check. Overblown invocation of piracy? Check.” [San Francisco Chronicle]

* San Franciscans, come see David Lat speak at U.C. Hastings on Monday. It’s free and open to the public! Heck, I’ll probably go too. [Legally Speaking]

* You gotta admit, trying to get rich off claims about the death of an imaginary cat (and/or parrot) is a pretty imaginative way to commit insurance fraud. [Seattle Weekly]

* Colorado Bar Exam results are out. Congratulations to those who passed. [Colorado Supreme Court]

In his new book, Academy Award-winner Errol Morris has taken on one of the highest-profile murder case of the last 50 years.

Morris, known for The Fog of War, his documentary about Robert S. McNamara, just published his second book — A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald (affiliate link) — a revival of the story of a young Army doctor convicted in 1979 of murdering his pregnant wife and two children.

Americans of a certain age (i.e., older than me) almost certainly remember MacDonald, whose story was told and endlessly picked apart on television, in Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss, and The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. But Morris’s new book is perhaps the first serious investigative look at the idea that MacDonald may very well be innocent.

Morris’s book, which has already garnered positive reviews in the New York Times and the Atlantic, is at once a thrilling true crime story and challenging philosophical look at the tricky nature of facts and the importance of narrative in the American legal system.

Let’s hear more about the book and chat with Morris….

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According to new research from Columbia Law School, this man was executed for a murder he did not commit.

Earlier this week, a group of students at Columbia Law School, along with law professor James Liebman, released a 400-page report detailing the story of a Texas man who was, according to the report, executed for a murder he did not commit.

Released online in The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, the narrative has received massive press attention in the last two days. Many in the media have already described the terrible story as a potential answer to Justice Scalia’s famous quip that if the United States ever executed the wrong man, “the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”

The details of Carlos DeLuna’s story are far too numerous to fit into a single post, but keep reading for the key plot points. We also spoke with Shawn Crowley, a 2011 Columbia Law graduate and a co-author of the paper. She talked with us about how the project shaped her law school experience, and she gave some suggestions for other students who are looking for a more personal, relationship-based time in law school.

Let’s dig in…

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