Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Frightens Me: The Case of Todd Newmiller

Below is a video you may not have time to watch. It's long. It is likely to amaze you. It may make you angry. Me, it frightens. Again.

I was at the appeal hearing, a part of which is presented in the video below. I was there because Todd Newmiller's parents are my friends. I've known them since 1991. Todd's father was one of my mentors when I first began teaching. I was also at, at least part of the original trial in Colorado Springs. I lived in Colorado Springs when the unfortunate death for which Todd was convicted took place. I noted the event in the morning paper. As the Deputy Head of our department, I learned of my friend's son's intimate connection with it very shortly thereafter.

In the beginning, no one doubted that Todd would be cleared of the crime. Knowing the facts of the case and watching the trial unfold and then watching the appeal left me saying, earnestly, that if I were ever wrongfully accused of a serious crime, the day I were released on bail would be my last in the United States. A lot of us said that.

This is, far and away, the worst miscarriage of justice with which I have any personal familiarity. And I do not exaggerate when I say it frightens me. I've reached that age where I have, as a rule, little faith in institutions in general. But one can get by on very little faith, so long as one is not reminded of why such faith is generally misplaced. Todd's case is one of those reminders from which it is difficult to return to complacency of any sort.

So, you've been warned. I doubt simply watching the video, if one is unfamiliar with just how egregious the railroading was, will be as profoundly erosive of one's peace of mind as experiencing the trials in person could be. Nonetheless, I'm compelled to say, view at your own risk.

Video originally posted at: Bearing False Witness, a site maintained by Todd's family and dedicated to publicizing his cause and the larger cause of all those wrongfully convicted.