Lawyers knew for 26 years that innocent man was in prison

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Postby Valkenar » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:06 pm

cxt wrote:But that is specualtion...the important part here is what was known and whom knew it and when.

I disagree. I think the important part is the precedent it would set for the lawyers to reveal information told in confidence.

I'm saying that IMO as Officers of the Court they had some degree of responsibilty to prevent another crime---false imprisonment--from being commited against Alton. ... 7/alpha/F/ ... onment.asp

False imprisonment is a crime but it's not what you're talking about here.
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Postby cxt » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:25 pm


As compared to the "precedent" that Officers of the Court can abrogate the accused's right to a fair trial and consign an innocent man to life in prison?

BTW your 1st and 2nd links offer a somewhat different view--as does your 3td.

So we are now quibbling over my use of the term "false imprisonment?"
What else pray-tell would you call it when an innocent man is falsely accused, denied IMO a fair trail, wrongly convicted and did 26 years for a crime he did not commit? :roll:

I'm sure that the techniqual term would be more accurate....but it would not change what happend or the fact that he was wrongfully, falsely accused and falsely imprisoned for a crime commited by another man.

(BTW--if memory serves--you argued rather strongly that scooping up suspected terrorist and sticking them in Gitmo was somehow illegal and most certainly wrong---since by the links the posted what the goverment did is not "false imprisonment"---what "crime" are they commiting?
Perhaps that is what the State also did to Alton? :wink: )

We have Officers of the Court that knew that fact, had evidence of that fact, were in a postion to know what was happening to him and did nothing (as per the article) except a lot of navel gazing, handwringing and post hoc rationalizing, about it.

As a citizen I expect more....and so should you.
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Re: Duty is not always easy.

Postby Panther » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:58 pm

Norm Abrahamson wrote:Dear Folks,
A lawyer may not reveal a privileged communication except to prevent a crime from occuring.

Doesn't anyone consider it a crime to knowingly imprison an innocent person for life?!?!?! :shocked!:

I DO! :2gunfire:
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Postby Norm Abrahamson » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:46 pm


The attorneys at issue did not imprison anybody. That is more than a minor point.

Norm Abrahamson
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Postby cxt » Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:07 pm


I have been spending the last several days on a legal forum in the State in question....very interesting discussion to say the least.

Vast amount of opinion---still going thu it.

Multipe differing POV on this--and some really scary stuff as well.

Some of the highlights:

-Until 2003--in CA, lawyers were seemingly not required to tell anyone if their client was planning on murdering someone after they are released.

-Several States expressly allow lawyers to break the seal of privlage if the lawyer is being sued for poor representation---or for something as trival as non-payment of legal fees.
This one caused a mini-firestorm---inncoent people? They are pretty much screwed---Lawyers--they can break the seal to protect themselevs or in order to re-coup monies owed.

-There are some States that have very specific rules that allow for legal breach of the seal--Mass for example has a specific clause for the specifc protection of the innocent people and lawyers whom have proof/testimony of their innocence.
That more States don't is IMO a horrible lack of foresight.

-They even got very philosopical and "big picture" about it.
Several people noted that the "big picture" concerns on the lawyer client privlage were largely irrelevent---for a range of reasons.

One even noted that if people really wanted to get "big picture" then what should really concern lawyers was that the enitre system rests on the citizens having a good faith belief that the system can more or less be trusted--that its less some kind of highly complex game and more a system by which the truth matters--if they lose that faith, then they will start takeing matters into their own hands...essentially the entire system could be put into question---as far as "big picture" goes this trumps concerns over the seal.

-One noted that the entire bases for trying cases on the individual facts--instead of simply looking at the crime and passing sentence was the sure and certain knowloge that situations will arise that simply were not considered when the laws were written...and this is one of those times.

-Several noted that one is allowed to break the law when the nature of the situtaion is serious enough---the example was that nobody gets put in jail for speeding because they were rushing a seriously injured person to the hospital.

-A number of people essentially concluded that the ethics the situation demanded action----how often does one hear that its better to let a guilty man go free than allow an innocent man to die?..or in this case suffer life in prison.

-Several pointed out that Wilson could not have harmd by his lawyers actions-----if he could than any defendent would be at the mercy of his lawyer, whom at any time could drop a dime.....general conclusion was that concern over Wilson was largely hypothetical rather than practical at that point....while Alton situation was practical rather than hypothetical.

-One person brought up an even more serious point--both in "big picture" terms and application---what was the evidence that Alton was gulity?
If someone else did it---then how was Alton convicted?
Did the cops plant evidence? Corrupt testimoney? Did someone lie?
All could have serious repercussion for the system as a whole in that region--as well as open possible avenues for Wilsons lawyers to have spoken out.

-Several persons noted that in cases of fraud--sometimes defiend as fraud perpetreted upon/against the Court itself...there is room for the breaking the seal.

-Others noted that in some interpretations the statues--depending on the State allowed the seal to be broken for financial reason--depriving someone of monies etc---but frighteningly there was no mention of wrongful imprisonment.

-One man spun a lengthy, and highly complex argument that while questionable--was interesting in that it was quite possibly correct---the gist of it was that Wilson had no actual standing for the purpose of Altons case and his lawyers could have spoken up--I'll quote the whole thing if anyone is interested.

The one thing that I took away was that there was little consensus on the issue--and that many States are in need of serious updating of their laws.

One side discussion was illustrative in context---it was claimed that the "law was the law" and there was little that could be done about it.
One of the posters mentioned that due to oversite and the looonnngg time since its been used that until the 70's (????) it was not a capitol crime to murder a Morman in MO/KS (something like that) ....still on the books until then.
The question was asked that if a man shot a Morman dead in the 1960's did he commit a crime?
When people answered "of course!!!" he then asked "why?"
And when they came up with host of reason why just because such a clearly outdated law..a law that was so clearly out of touch with the modern justice and so clearly potentially injurious...he merely asked then "why?" insist that such equally archaic and questionable laws are viewed as being so imutable with Alton?
Last edited by cxt on Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby cxt » Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:19 pm


Maybe not...but any way you cut it Officers of the Court knowingly allowed an innocent man to be tried, convicted, sentenced and imprisoned for life for a crime that they knew he did not commit.

And from what I have read--which of course may not tell the whole story....they did nothing to stop some navel-gazing and handwringing.

If they tried their very best and failed--if they took it to the State Bar, took it to the judge in Altons trial, tried to cut a deal with Wilson for some privlages at the prison---if they tried their very best and just were not smart enough, or skilled enough, or conviencing enough----then OK, they tried........but it simply does not read that way to me.

Always willing to change my postion if more evidence that they did in fact leave no stone unturned comes out.
Last edited by cxt on Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gene DeMambro » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:59 pm

As a side note, why no such hate for the prosecutors and the police? NOte the article says and investigation showed the police mistreated and tortured confessions out of suspects for 20 years. If the cops played it straight, there would be no problem - there would be no where for the defesne to turn to and claim torture, or beating or whatever. And the prosecutors, convicting suspects known to have been beaten in police custody.
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Postby cxt » Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:09 pm


That was one of the side discussions---in "big picture" terms--exactly how an innocent man spent 26 years in prison--might, might mean that there were serious issues in entire system there.

Which could have addressed if Wilsons lawyers had stepped up.

If and I stress the word if, the system itself was that corrupt--and the lawyers kept evidence that this was so hidden.....well I'm not sure that pious pleading about "privlage" would/should take a more important postion than the serious misconduct on the part of the system itself.

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