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Randomness from a 2005 graduate of The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University

 

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Tonight I saw The Exonerated at Catco. Ever since reading Larry Marshall's Reckless Lecture which was published in the second issue of The Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, the issue of wrongful convictions has been one of my main areas of interest. Marshall is the legal director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern, which has been at the forefront of many of the death row exonerations, and played a major role in the re-examination of Illinois capital sentencing. The Innocence Project at Cardozo is equally well known and was founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld who wrote the book Actual Innocence , along with Jim Dwyer(which I discovered in one of Marshall's footnotes). When I began researching wrongful convictions, and particularly when I gave my seminar presentation on the subject, I realized that the concept of actual innocence is the one argument that can actually affect pro-death penalty people. If I could do anything with my legal career, it would be to work in this area, particularly in non-DNA cases.

Since theater was my first passion, before I discovered the law, I would love to see a play that could get people infuriated about these injustices. What is interesting is that The Exonerated is told in the words of six people who were actually exonerated. However, there is no real dramatic tension in the play; it is simply these six people's stories, that you know the whole time end in their exoneration. Also, by being merely narrative, maybe the audience cares about these individuals, but the larger problem is never addressed except by a few random angry comments about lawyers and the justice system. This is definitely a topic that could be addressed in a way that would really leave the audience thinking at the end, but this play does not do that. Even without being didactic, a little more audience education would have really helped. The script is more like a television documentary than an actual piece of dramatic literature. This particular performance wasn't helped by a less than stellar cast, although Jonathan Putnam was excellent as usual, as was Alan Bomar Jones. Nearly every actor stumbled over their lines and completely failed to cover it, which made the production look painfully amateurish. Unfortunately, riveting subject matter is not enough to make for great theater. Catco's supposed theme for the season is "passion", but this production, and maybe the script, is desperately lacking anything approaching passion. |
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