Not a bad day so far, except for it pissing down rain all morning. Makes it very hard to get up. The cats always run around in the AM and drive me crazy while I'm getting ready or studying (Bourdain especially), but on mornings like these they say heeeeeeeeell no and just stay in bed all curled up in warm balls. Bastards. (Yes, sometimes I torture them to get back at them. "Does this bug you? Does this bug you?")
But I met Betty Anne Waters this morning, since I'm working with 12 other people on a case for the Innocence Project.
We all watched Conviction a few days ago, which came out in 2010 but I had never seen. (It's directed by Tony Goldwyn, so it's a little OTT with the drama, but not horribly so.) It's hard to discuss the movie from a filmmaking position because it's a true story and though some of the sequencing of events at the end is off, it's mostly all true. Certainly the important parts are!
Conviction is basically the Hollywood version of Waters's story to free her brother Kenny from prison, which most of you have probably run across at some point or another.
Kenny (this was in MA) was convicted of a murder he did not commit and was given life in prison. She was a high school drop out, married with two kids. After her brother lost his appeal, he tried to kill himself, which understandably really upset her. So they made a deal--if he didn't hurt himself again, she was going to go back to school and try to get him out. And she did. It took a long time--she had to get her GED, an undergraduate degree and then her law degree. And take the bar. And her marriage did not survive this.
After doing all these things and also learning about DNA testing, she got in touch with the Innocence Project and started working to track down the evidence from nearly 16 years ago. (Evidence over ten years old was supposed to be destroyed.) That was one of the scarier parts of the story, thinking about the number of similar cases where, despite an arduous struggle to track it down, evidence really HAS been destroyed already. The other hard part is even when you do get your hands on DNA and you DO get it tested and the convicted person is shown to be eliminated, you can still run into strong opposition from the D.A. In this case, they were saying it merely showed he was an accomplice. So sometimes DNA alone doesn't cut it.
But it's a very compelling story, so I do recommend the film (Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell do a really nice job--and Juliette Lewis does an outstanding white trash asshole--even more so than usual). What the film does not mention (they thought audiences couldn't handle it since it was already so depressing) is that six months after he was released, Kenny had a freak falling accident, was in a coma for 12 days and died.
It was really good to meet and talk with her--she still works with the Innocence Project and is working on our case as well. She is clearly still very passionate about working with them (she does not practice law anymore in another capacity), and seems to be--well, I want to say "emotional," but that has a negative connotation and not what I mean. It is also immediately apparent just how much her brother meant to her.
So it was a good morning. But now I have some tedious systems training for my clinic and a meeting with the professor I'm assisting this semester. I worked for her last semester too, and I think this project will involve more international human rights issues than international economic law--what I did last semester. To be fair, I learned a ton doing it. But it was just as sexy as it sounds, i.e., NOT AT ALL...