Conviction: How the Law Failed One Man

Miscarriages of justice might not have been in the news quite so much just recently, but a new film on that subject is out this week: Conviction, starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell.  It’s about an innocent American man called Kenny Waters who is  sent to prison for a murder he did not commit and it will, no doubt, raise concerns  not just about the American legal system and lawyers, but legal systems everywhere.  Heaven knows in this country we have nothing to be proud of on this subject.

His sister, “a high-school drop-out” and single parent, played in the film by Swank, works tirelessly over 20 years to qualify as a lawyer and then to represent him to secure his acquittal because he couldn’t afford one. The case was one of the first in which DNA evidence was used to overturn a conviction.  I was unable to attend the Press viewing last Monday because of work commitments, but I will go and see it shortly as it looks good (and I do like Hilary Swank) and will do a review afterwards.

In the meantime, here’s the trailer.

The real tragedy isn’t in the film at all, though. Having been released from prison after 18 years,  Kenny Waters then died six months later when he fell off a wall while taking a short cut. Before his death Waters apparently said

‘The legal system works if you have the money to make it work … if you don’t have the money to make it work, you’re going to prison.”

That’s a sentiment that will resonate in many places, not just the USA.  With this government cutting back on legal aid, the whole issue of miscarriages of justice may be back in the headlines again.

The film opens this Friday.

Michael Scutt, Employment Solicitor 

Employment solicitor with Crane and Staples, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Blogger & writer. I like cycling, cricket, football and history.