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Justice Failed

How “Legal Ethics” Sent Me to Prison for 26 Years

List Price: $26.00

ON SALE: October 10, 2017 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 160 Pages | ISBN 9781619029927

Justice Failed is the story of Alton Logan, an African American man who served twenty-six years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Shamefully, such false imprisonment isn’t uncommon in America, but what makes this case extraordinary is that his innocence was made known to the attorneys of the true murderer within one month of Logan’s imprisonment.

Written in collaboration with veteran journalist Berl Falbaum, Justice Failed explores the sharp divide that exists between common sense morality—an innocent man should be free— and the rigid ethics of the law which superseded that morality. The actual murderer admitted his guilt to his lawyers, but they, bound by the absolutism of client-attorney privilege, did not take action to free an innocent man. According to ethic codes, they could not. Instead, they signed an affidavit proclaiming Alton Logan’s innocence, and in a move that belongs in a thriller, one of them locked the document in a strong box and kept it beneath his bed, in case they were someday able to assist Logan. It wasn’t until after the true murderer’s death in 2007 that the lawyers came forward with the information that eventually set Logan free.

Throughout, interviews and probing legal exploration give way to Alton Logan himself as he tells his own story; from his childhood in Chicago to the strength required to maintain his innocence while incarcerated, to the devastating impact that the loss of a quarter century has had on his life—he entered prison at twenty-eight years of age, and was released at fifty-five. His story is painful and infuriating, but Justice Failed is not meant to shock, nor is it a plea for pity. Logan and Falbaum lay out the facts, and answer the question “How could this happen?” Very easily, it seems. Through telling his story, Alton Logan and Berl Falbaum seek to change that.

ALTON LOGAN served twenty-six years of a life sentence in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was formally declared innocent on April 17, 2009. Alton currently lives with his wife, Terry, in Chicago.

BERL FALBAUM’s career includes ten years as a political reporter for The Detroit News, four years in state politics as administrative aide to Michigan’s lieutenant governor, and fifteen years in corporate public relations. He is the author of eight books, including Shanghai Remembered, the story of how 20,000 Jews escaped to Shanghai from Nazi Europe during World War II, which received an award from the Independent Publishers Association.


“The story of the wrongful conviction of Alton Logan in Chicago stands out as perhaps one of the most unusual and cruel stories in the history of American jurisprudence. Convicted of a 1982 murder and sentenced to life in prison, Logan was not only innocent, but lawyers for the real killer knew it all along and, citing legal ethics, kept it a secret for more than a quarter of a century before revealing the evidence that set Logan free.” —Maurice Possley, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist

“This remarkable first-person story, told by an innocent man who lost twenty-six years of his life for a crime he did not commit, not only presents the dilemma that criminal defense attorneys face when their client confesses to them, but also recounts how a serial police torturer named Jon Burge framed him, and a racist ‘justice’ system sealed his fate.” —G. Flint Taylor, longtime attorney at the People’s Law Office in Chicago, who has represented numerous wrongfully convicted victims of Chicago police torture

“A shocking tale of wrongful conviction . . . that brings general conditions into cruelly sharp focus.” —Kirkus Reviews