“Just Mercy” Highlights Injustices Plaguing Our Death Penalty

"Just Mercy" reminds us that problems that plagued Alabama's criminal justice system in the 1990s, specifically surrounding the death penalty, are still present in today's age. Attorney Richard S. Jaffe outlines the relevancy of this film starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan in his recent article on AL.com.

The film, which was based on a true story, follows Walter McMillian, a black man convicted for a crime he did not commit. He spent 6 years on death row until he was exonerated in 1993. Jaffe notes in the article that although the events in this case took place nearly 30 years ago, the themes are still relevant and apparent today.

Jaffe draws similarities between McMillian to Toforest Johnson, a man facing the death penalty today. Both cases highlight the failure of law enforcement officials to hear the black voice. Although witnesses came forward with alibis for both men, they were still arrested for and convicted of their crimes.

Additionally, Jaffe notes, both McMillian's and Johnson's cases show the lengths a prosecutor will take to land a conviction in high-profile cases. In both cases, the prosecution relied on weak evidence and unreliable witnesses. In Johnson's case, an "earwitness" claimed she heard someone call himself Toforest confess to the crime. The testimony was used even though the woman had never met nor heard Johnson.

"Mr. McMillian was finally freed from death row in 1993. But the problems with the criminal justice system look exactly the same today. And there is no justice for one innocent man – Toforest Johnson – who still sits on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit." – Attorney Richard S. Jaffe

Jaffe states in the AL.com article that he represented a client who was charged with the same murder Johnson was convicted for. Eventually, the jury acquitted his client, but Jaffe says that, in handling that case, he got a firsthand look at the injustices of the criminal justice system.

Read the full AL.com article here: https://www.al.com/opinion/2020/02/just-mercy-spotlights-injustices-that-still-plague-our-death-penalty.html#incart_sms

For aggressive defense in Birmingham, contact Jaffe, Hanle, Whisonant & Knight, P.C. by calling (205) 900-7714 or submitting an online contact form.

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