You all may breathe a sigh of relief today for justice has been served.  Our justice system has succeeded, the process bore itself out to the just and right conclusion and we may all bathe in the glow of comfort that is our judicial system.  Wait, didn’t hear that story?  Neither did I.  But many thanks to the high profile celebrities like Peter Jackson and Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder who have ensured this victory.

The West Memphis Three – three men who were convicted in 1994 of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas and who are now walking free because of the generosity of these bastions of Hollywood who made the release of these men their pet projects.  The millions of dollars spent in supporting the defendants’ legal teams, independently investigating the murder, and publicizing the travesty of justice has finally been rewarded.

I don’t usually take positions; I am not one to take a stance and say this is right or that is wrong.  However, being an attorney and hearing of these “victories” makes me sick to my stomach.  You sanctimonious celebrities who think you can throw your weight around and make things happen.  You get on your high horses and find a cause and you fight for it.  Good for you… really, good for you.  I hope you sleep better at night.

Why am I so upset about this?  Frankly, it is a waste of money, but not for the reason you may think.  Certainly justice is the highest priority.  Yet, how many millions of dollars have these people spent in crusading for three men when thousands of other potentially innocent men and women are incarcerated erroneously?  Why these three?  Because their story is so compelling?  Because they saw a documentary about it?  Oh, wait, could it be that Peter Jackson has already obtained the rights to the story and is working on a movie?

These are the two scenarios that we hear most often when the focus is on our justice system:  1) They convicted an innocent man; and 2) They failed to convict a guilty woman (Casey Anthony, anyone?) 

There is an underlying theme which does not rise to the forefront often enough with respect to these two scenarios – there isn’t enough money for prosecutors and policemen to do their jobs perfectly.  They are human and they get it wrong sometimes.  An innocent man was convicted?  Perhaps it was that the police located a suspect, had sufficient evidence to bring charges, and due to budgetary concerns, were told to move on to the next murder and they didn’t follow up on every possible lead.  Oh yeah, and there wasn’t enough funding to do the amount of DNA testing or forensics or whatever to ensure that the police had the right guy.

Did a “guilty” woman go free?  Could it be that the prosecution didn’t locate all of the potential witnesses or analyze all of the evidence prior to trial and they had 50 other cases on their desk that they were also trying to manage because the district attorney’s office put on a hiring freeze?

This is what bothers me about this—these celebrities take on a crusade for one cause when the amount of money that they spent on this crusade could be used to help out thousands of other people.  Millions and millions of dollars of personal assets are being contributed to the defense of the West Memphis Three when the same money could be donated to our justice system as a whole with the improvements being monumental.  I guarantee you that no prosecutor wants to put the wrong guy in jail.  What’s the saying?  “Better 10 guilty men go free than to convict a single innocent man.”  I wholeheartedly believe that the prosecutors live and die this credo.

You want to make a difference?  You certainly have the funding to do it; give the money back to the communities.  Give it to the local law enforcement or to the criminal court system, to the district attorneys’ office.  Do I have to come out and say it?  Give it to the good guys!

This to me feels like an attempt to embarrass the justice system.  “See how clueless the local law enforcement is that they need the Hollywood machers to do the job for them?”

Take a look at some of the people involved in this crusade for the West Memphis Three:

–         Johnny Depp:  arrested in 1994 and 1999

–         Eddie Vedder:  arrested in 1993

–         Henry Rollins:  arrested in 1999

–         Natalie Maines:  husband arrested in 2010

I don’t know what it means that many of the participants had previous run-ins with the law themselves, I just found it interesting.  Want to know what else I find interesting about this whole story?


Yes, take a look at that again.  No one knows whether the men are truly innocent.  How will it look if it turns out that these guys really did commit these heinous murders?  The parties that were thrown to celebrate the release of these criminals will look pretty stupid if the convictions aren’t overturned, won’t they?

I could go on about this and similar topics forever.  The celebrity who complains that teachers don’t get paid enough and the school system is under funded?  Hey buddy, take 1/25th of the salary you made on your last movie and contribute it to the school system, I guarantee you will change thousands of lives…

This all just makes me sick.  Surely if they were wrongfully convicted they should be set free; but wouldn’t it be better to fix the system itself instead of taking on one charity case?

Have a great week.