Justice Failed

How "Legal Ethics" Kept Me in Prison for 26 Years


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Book Description

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

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. In 1983, Logan was falsely convicted of fatally shooting an off–duty Cook County corrections officer, Lloyd M. Wickliffe, at a Chicago–area McDonald’s, and sentenced to life in prison. While serving time for unrelated charges, Andrew Wilson—the true murderer—admitted his guilt to his own lawyers, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz. However, bound by the legal code of ethics known as the absolutism of client–attorney privilege, Coventry and Kunz could not take action. Instead, they signed an affidavit proclaiming Logan’s innocence and locked the document in a hidden strong box. It wasn’t until after Wilson’s death in 2007 that his lawyers were able to come forward with the evidence that would eventually set Alton Logan free after twenty–six years in prison.

Written in collaboration with veteran journalist Berl Falbaum, Justice Failed explores the sharp divide that exists between commonsense morality—an innocent man should be free—and the rigid ethics of the law that superseded that morality. Throughout the book, in–depth interviews and legal analyses give way to Alton Logan himself as he tells his own story, from his childhood in Chicago 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.

About the Authors

Praise For This Book

Praise for Justice Failed

An Official Junior Library Guild Selection, Adult Crossover Nonfiction

"Alarming and timely, Justice Failed is a must–read for anyone hoping to better understand the reality of modern American criminal justice." —New York Journal of Books

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

"In simple, unadorned prose, Logan tells his story of the gravely flawed justice system that imprisoned him, an innocent man, for nearly three decades . . . A powerful argument that will appeal to readers of Michael Morton’s Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25–Year Journey from Prison to Peace." —Library Journal

"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 and New York Times best–selling author of The Brown’s Chicken Massacre and Everybody Pays

"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

"This is a superb book about a tragedy in which legal ethics stood perversely in the way of justice, costing an innocent man more than a quarter century of his life." —Rob Warden, codirector of Injustice Watch, Inc., and executive director emeritus of the Center on Wrongful Conviction, Northwestern University School of Law