Page 209. " Tom looked like Matlock, a young Andy Griffith in a dark blue pinstriped suit "

Matlock was a television show that aired from 1986 to 1992.  Every episode saw Ben Matlock, an attorney, successfully catch a criminal and lead the trial to a guilty verdict in an exciting court drama.  Matlock was played by Andy Griffith.  In the television series, Griffith was known for his heavy southern accent and his unfailing success in every single case.

 

 

 Submitted by student author, Madelon Wygand

Page 223. " Tom had gone to law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, where Rich Rosen had been one of his professors "

Rich Rosen

Rich Rosen
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumRich Rosen - Credit: Rich Rosen

Rich Rosen is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  He returned to Chapel Hill in 1980 as the first supervising attorney in the criminal law clinic.  He went on to teach numerous classes at Chapel Hill relating to criminal law such as ethics for criminal lawyers, criminal law, criminal procedure: investigation, lawyering process and seminars in judicial sentencing and capital punishment.  Rich Rosen also played a big role in the Innocence Project and the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.

 

The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence

The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence is located in Durham, North Carolina.  The Center is a non-profit organization that identifies and investigates cases in which criminals are convicted of crimes that they did not commit.  In order for the Center to take a case, several criteria must be met by the inmate;  they must have been accused of a felony in the state of North Carolina, they must be asserting a claim of innocence, they must be completely innocent of the crime,   they must currently be imprisoned, they must no longer have an appeal of right, the claimant cannot be serving a sentence for any other crimes that they are not claiming innocence to, they must be unrepresented, and there has to be a possibility of new evidence which was not presented at the time of the trial that can be used to prove them not guilty.  A claim to submit the case into the Center can be submitted by anyone.  After the case is screened and proceeds, it is then assigned to a student volunteer who will research the case.  It is then discussed with advisors and other students where many points are taken into account.  Two of the questions asked during these meetings are “Is there credible evidence of innocence?” and “Are there avenues we can pursue to prove the innocence of this person?”  If the case passes through both of these, it is then taken to a team of volunteers along with an advisor to begin investigation.

Submitted by student author Marlene Taylor

Page 224. " It’s important for the public to know that, people who don’t quite understand yet what DNA tests mean. "

DNA
Creative Commons AttributionDNA
DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the genetic material found in almost all organisms.  Most of an organism’s DNA is found in its cell’s nuclei, but some can also be found in the mitochondria.  The information is made up of a sugar and phosphate backbone with complementary nitrogen base pairs.  Adenine pairs with thymine while guanine pairs with cytosine.  The only organisms that share the same DNA are identical twins.  Otherwise, all DNA is unique to the individual.  DNA is found in a double helix shape in order to protect the important information that it carries.  Another property of DNA is that it is able to replicate itself so that it can fill every new cell with identical information.  DNA testing, in order to prove one’s guilt or innocence is 99.99% accurate. 

Submitted by student author, Kelsey Weiss

Page 224. " DNA was just beginning to be big news because of the O. J. Simpson trial. "
O.J. Simpson (1986) cropped
Creative Commons AttributionO.J. Simpson (1986) cropped - Credit: Alan Light

The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson trial, also known as the O.J. Simpson trial, was a murder case that shocked the USA in 1995.

A famed football player and actor, O.J. Simpson was accused of two counts of murder.  The victims were his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.  After nine months O.J. Simpson was found innocent of these charges, a verdict no one in the nation expected and many did not accept. 

Simpson’s defense attorneys, Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran, were credited with this outcome.  Shapiro argued that the DNA evidence, a new form of evidence at this time, had been tainted due to errors made by technicians. This was grounds for reasonable doubt, according to the jury.

More information about the trial and subsequent events can be found here.              

 

submitted by student author, Jessa Yount