Sunday, November 17, 2019
The Innocent Man Essay Example for Free
The Innocent Man Essay Ã¢â¬Å"The Innocent ManÃ¢â¬ apparently is the story of Ron Williamson, who spent 12 years on Oklahomas death row after having been convicted of a murder he did not commit; the book is more than Williamsons touching story. Co-defendant Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder but sentenced to life in prison. Together with Williamson he was eventually vindicated by DNA evidence. Two other inmates, Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward, whose cases were interconnected with Williamson and Fritz, remain imprisoned in Oklahoma serving life sentences regardless of substantial evidence of actual innocence. Ron Williamson, the lead character in the story was wrongfully convicted of Carters killing. Williamson is not the benevolent character. He appeared as a high school athlete in baseball and was chosen by the Oakland Athletics in the 1971 Major League draft. His professional baseball career never realized the promise displayed by his youthful potential, and he returned home to lead a life reduced by divorce, drugs, alcohol and small-time crime. Loaded by mental illness, his attitude added in many respects to his conviction. But the authorÃ¢â¬â¢s portrayal makes perfectly apparent that Williamsons conduct in no way warranted the outrageous actions of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges. It is possibly one of the ironies of the law that while lawyers and judges botched Williamson, it would be others in those same professions who saved him only five days before he was calendared to be executed from imposition of his sentence of death. Lawyers from the Oklahoma death penalty assistance program and a courageous federal judge eventually held a new trial for Williamson. During the flow of the investigation and preparation for that trial, Williamson underwent DNA examinations that would prove his innocence. It was one of the first considerable DNA exonerations in American courts. Ã¢â¬Å"The Innocent ManÃ¢â¬ commences by unfolding the disappearance of Mr. WilliamsonÃ¢â¬â¢s and Mr. FritzÃ¢â¬â¢s supposed victim from the parking lot of the nightclub where she worked. But she was later found dead at her home. By the time he has written 13 pages, the author has presented 22 witnesses, relatives, law officers and forensic experts, with many more to occur. If it takes a time for Ron Williamson to materialize, because it is clear in Mr. GrishamÃ¢â¬â¢s mind: Mr. Williamson had no direct relationship to the crime. The book illustrates the tortured process by which Mr. Williamson, with a reputation for being drunk, moody and troublesome, in the long run caught the interest of the police. The book offers much evidence of Mr. WilliamsonÃ¢â¬â¢s mental weakening. His behavior becomes violently inconsistent. His substance abuse intensifies. His habits turn progressively stranger. Meanwhile the author takes his extensive legal expertise to the job of being staggered by what he portrays as the lawÃ¢â¬â¢s systematic breaking of Mr. WilliamsonÃ¢â¬â¢s rights and by the brutal handling of his suspicion. In the face of such blatant mistreatment of a suspect, the author has a difficult time keeping sarcasm at bay. Of the intense circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. WilliamsonÃ¢â¬â¢s mother, and that he was kept constrained even at her funeral, the author writes: Ã¢â¬Å"Such precautions were obviously needed for a felon who forged a $300 check. Ã¢â¬ Far worse than her sonÃ¢â¬â¢s embarrassment is that Mr. WilliamsonÃ¢â¬â¢s mother died believing that she had ascertained to the police that her son was home watching videos with her on the night of Debbie CarterÃ¢â¬â¢s murder. Though her lawyer said he watched her make this testimonial to a police detective, a video camera evidently failed to register what she said. No evidence of it appeared in the legal proceedings that resulted. Ã¢â¬Å"The Innocent ManÃ¢â¬ is plural, despite its title because it is a story of four men, four average white guys from good families, all crushed up and abused by the system and locked away for a combined total of 33 years. This is a lot for a nonfiction narrative to deal with, and this book sometimes injures under the burden of so much harsh, frustrating data. Mr. GrishamÃ¢â¬â¢s information on the formation of an underground, completely daylight-deprived prison provides the most egregious hall of horrors in a book that is symbolically full of them. On occasion Ã¢â¬Å"The Innocent ManÃ¢â¬ provides a touchable souvenir of Mr. GrishamÃ¢â¬â¢s novels. Take Barney Ward, Mr. WilliamsonÃ¢â¬â¢s court-appointed lawyer, who appears as if he walked right out of the authorÃ¢â¬â¢s fiction. This is Mr. WardÃ¢â¬â¢s first death penalty case. He is a passionately colorful character. He is also blind; and just as the case revolves on forensic evidence that demands visual examination, his assistant leaves him in the motion. Mr. WardÃ¢â¬â¢s relationship with Mr. Williamson is so touchy that Mr. WardÃ¢â¬â¢s son is prepared to challenge the client physically should trouble take place. The author has an Olympian ability to launch thunderbolts. His book causes a plague of vipers upon the head of Bill Peterson, the Ada district attorney who managed both these investigations and is still in office. Ã¢â¬Å"The Innocent ManÃ¢â¬ forces readers to take an interested look at and ask some serious questions about a legal system that, in important criminal cases, seems to be malfunctioning in every corner of our nation. Reference: Grisham, J. (2006). The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. 1st ed. New York: Doubleday Books.