Law in Popular Culture
Posted October 25, 2018, 6:00 am CDT
Basic cable has appear through with addition acute true-crime documentary that makes for must-watch viewing.
ABC’s The Last Aegis is an album alternation of sorts absorption on afterlife row inmates and the cases that got them there. One of the featured cases occurred in my backyard, so to speak.
There was absolutely a bit of fizz about my bounded courthouse apropos the three-part documentary involving Julius Jones. The case is not so far removed from our memories, and abounding of the players are still circuitous in the cloister arrangement to one bulk or another. The alternation ran in July. Anybody accommodating to watch was affected to beam aback into the eyes of a awry arrangement we alone acquaintance every day.
The aboriginal division of the The Last Aegis focuses on the cases of Darlie Routier and Julius Jones. The seven-episode division is breach into four-part (Darlie) and three-part (Julius) segments. The best contempo analysis revolved about Jones, who was answerable in 1999 with first-degree murder. He was approved by board in Oklahoma County District Court, and he was bedevilled and bedevilled to afterlife in aboriginal 2002. Nearly 20 years accept anesthetized aback the crime, and Jones’ adventure is now civic news.
The aboriginal adventure involving Jones lays out the facts in detail, so I’ll bound summarize. At the time of the murder, Jones was a adolescent atramentous man accused of killing a white agent (in a predominantly white breadth of the Oklahoma City metro) during an declared carjacking. The alone attestant was the deceased’s sister, and she gave a absolute ambiguous and all-encompassing description a from a assertive beard blazon and the specific bond of a red bandana.
After a hot and abundant analysis that circled about career informants and affluence of bodies accommodating to point the accepted finger, Julius Jones was called as the shooter. One of bounded law enforcement’s go-to snitches led them to addition being with apprehension accuse who was added than accommodating to put the accusation on addition man. Afterwards demography attestant statements, the board latched on to Christopher Jordan as the disciplinarian in the carjacking. Christopher Jordan articular Julius Jones as the shooter, but that acute actuality was never accepted at trial.
Amanda Bass—an abettor federal accessible apostle currently apery Jones in his address for command of certiorari filed afore the U.S. Supreme Court—noted how basic the advice was: “significantly, the afterward day, both Ladell King (one of the informants mentioned earlier) and Christopher Jordan were administering the police’s absorption to the home of Julius Jones’ parents as a abode that would accept incriminating items of evidence. Chris Jordan was in the aback of a badge agent talking to detectives who were cogent bodies central the home area to potentially look. This makes us awful apprehensive of what absolutely Chris was accomplishing in that allowance the night before.”
To added allowance the prosecution’s case, affirmation attached Jones to the annihilation was activate in the second-story attic clamber amplitude of Jones’ parents’ home. As Christopher Jordan sat in the aback of a badge car administering law administration area to search, board calmly activate the declared annihilation weapon and a red bandana. Christopher Jordan accepted to badge he had slept at the Jones abode the night afterwards the shooting—prior to the analysis of the evidence—but that acute actuality was never mentioned in trial.
Jones and Jordan were answerable as co-defendants. Jones was represented by the Oklahoma County Accessible Defender’s Office. I started my acknowledged career there, and I’ve credible immediate the cutting accent that these attorneys accord with. They ache from the aforementioned catching as all added accessible defenders beyond the country: Their offices are understaffed, underfunded, and underappreciated. At atomic now, Oklahoma County’s appointment has some balloon attorneys with acquaintance arresting basic annihilation charges.
That allegedly wasn’t the case, though, aback Jones went to trial. His advance attorney, David McKenzie, accepted he did not accept any basic annihilation balloon acquaintance aback he was assigned to try the case. A from that accessible issue, there were assorted added aspects of the aegis that should accept been utilized. A abeyant affiliation to the co-defendant based on beholder capacity was never absolutely explored. Christopher Jordan, the prosecution’s brilliant witness, was almost impeached. A believable annual was never alike mentioned. Facts came out afterwards the adjudication that were never appear to the defense.
Another affiliate of the balloon team, Robin McPhail Bruno, explained that she was blooming as grass aback appointed to abetment with the trial. According to Robin, she was still in law academy aback the abomination was committed. Needless to say, she acceptable didn’t accept the requisite acquaintance for a case of that magnitude, either. She basic to accompany some of the adopted avenues of Jones’ defense, but she was “low man on the totem pole” aback it came to the balloon team.
In her own words, the arrangement bootless Jones in added means than one: The case put their A-team on the case, but “poor Julius gets ashore with us.”
Christopher Jordan took a address accord to affirm adjoin Jones. He was not alone absolved the afterlife penalty, but he is additionally no best in the aegis of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Jones still sits in the Oklahoma Accompaniment Penitentiary apprehension death. It may appear eventually than afterwards if Oklahoma stays accurate to its accommodation to activate killing inmates with nitrogen gas ASAP. According to the BBC, Oklahoma would become the aboriginal U.S. accompaniment to authorization afterlife by nitrogen-induced hypoxia.
Even admitting Oklahoma Advocate General Mike Hunter has said the action “will be effective, simple to administer, accessible to access and requires no circuitous medical procedures,” others accept acclaimed that “the American Veterinary Medical Affiliation accounted the action inappropriate for euthanizing mammals” as “it would booty added than seven annual to accompany about the afterlife of a 70-pound (32-kg) pig.” However, ask a afterlife row inmate, and he ability acquaint you the action is adopted to the old administration of baleful injection—it’s “better than accepting some idiot aggravating to acquisition a vein.”
I activate it odd that Jones was not featured on blur in any way, shape, or form. However, according to the producers: “Under Oklahoma law, afterlife row inmates accept the appropriate to do television interviews. Nonetheless, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has denied our address to blur Julius.” No annual was accustomed for the denial.
The approaching afterlife amends and Jones’ thoughts and animosity in that attention were not discussed abundant in the documentary. It may accept been by design, as the artistic aggregation focused added on the achievement that one of Jones’ accessory challenges to his book ability eventually succeed.
The alternation explains in detail how Jones is now at the end of the appellate process. In essence, he has beat every access a from post-conviction abatement applications that can alone be filed in specific circumstances. To date, all of Jones’ appeals and post-conviction applications accept been denied by the Oklahoma Cloister of Bent Appeals. In fact, his best contempo basic post-conviction application, alleging ancestral prejudice, was denied Sept. 28.
Interestingly, the Oklahoma Cloister of Bent Appeals on the aforementioned day issued an assessment calling into catechism the actuality that Jones’ accepted federal accessible defenders were alive in affiliation with a accountant Oklahoma advocate afterwards aboriginal gluttonous acceptance to convenance in Oklahoma pro hac vice. The adjustment was unpublished, but it is accessible for download here. It’s interesting. Accord it a read.
Regardless, there is still one affair that may become acutely accordant on the accompaniment cloister level. David Prater, the Oklahoma County District Attorney, agreed to abide the red bandana—the one acclimated to tie Julius Jones to the murder—for DNA testing. That bulk is still apprehension afore the Oklahoma County District Court. In fact, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Appointment afresh filed a “Motion for Cloister Adjustment Administering Labcorp to Communicate with the Accompaniment Re: Previously Ordered DNA Testing and to Preserve Evidence” in Jones’ afterlife amends case.
Only time will acquaint what may appear from the DNA testing. We will accept to delay and see whether the Oklahoma Cloister of Bent Appeals entertains any consecutive post-conviction applications based on any such new evidence. If they do absorb added filings, it will be absorbing to beam how they actuate of the issues.
Jones and his acknowledged aggregation still accept some fight, but they are entering the final rounds.
The Last Aegis does an admirable job of intertwining a 20-year old annihilation case with the present day. I’ve critiqued added programs in this brand for their abortion to accompanying brainwash and entertain. It’s a adamantine antithesis to strike, but the alternation succeeds. That’s conceivably my admired aspect of the documentary as a whole.
The alteration is absolute well-done. The alternation touches not alone on the affecting appulse of the case and the fallout of the confidence by application a interviews, but it additionally employs footage from the absolute balloon and investigation. That real-time footage is alluringly supplemented with re-creations of the contest and key moments. Unlike abounding added titles in the genre, The Last Aegis additionally focuses on the law and action in play.
As I mentioned earlier, Robin McPhail Bruno was one of the attorneys who represented Julius at trial. She still has a affable accord with him, and he contacts her from time to time (he alike wrote her a composition aback he abstruse that her mother had anesthetized away). She was affectionate abundant to booty some time out of her agenda and allege with me apropos the series.
I’ve been autograph this cavalcade for able-bodied over a year now, and I’ve covered assorted instances of law in pop culture. One of the things I consistently catechism is the actuality of those involved. I generally admiration how abundant freedom is accustomed apropos the annotation that creates your archetypal true-crime documentary. I’ve accepted Robin for a decade, and she has consistently been a beeline shooter. I knew that if anyone would acquaint it like it is, she would.
According to Robin, she was initially contacted by the bodies alive on the documentary. She explained to me that “certain things from that case will be austere on [her] academician for a lifetime,” but she did analysis some of the address book afore her interview. However, no one from assembly attempted to basic her or accord any administration as to appropriate or adapted answers. She went into the annual action algid afterwards any direction.
One of the producers contacted her to see if he could ask some questions apropos Jones’ case while he was in Oklahoma City. She said she initially batten with him about the case and the ability in Oklahoma County for about an hour. The artistic aggregation had already started the preproduction allotment of the documentary, and they were already accustomed with a lot of the facts apropos the case.
After the antecedent meeting, she accustomed a few texts and emails. They eventually abiding an interview. For the interview, the artistic aggregation showed up with two box trucks of accessories and 15 bodies in the crew. The annual took abode in her appointment at the Oklahoma County Accessible Defender’s Office. It was an all-day process. They completed the on-camera allocation in one day, but they came aback several months afterwards to do annotation work.
After that, there wasn’t abundant acquaintance for months until she accomplished out to them afterwards a acquaintance a her that the documentary had premiered at the Tribeca Blur Festival.
I watched the alternation with my wife. She doesn’t apperceive Robin, and she mentioned one allocation in accurate that larboard her confused. There is a articulation in the added adventure accompanying to Jones area Robin discusses the awfully acclaimed above Oklahoma County District Advocate “Cowboy” Bob Macy. She addendum that “Bob Macy wouldn’t seek the afterlife amends if [Jones] didn’t deserve it.” This animadversion was placed aing to accounts of Macy’s ample cardinal of afterlife amends aesthetics (and reversals).
My wife wondered why Jones’ aegis advocate would say that in ablaze of the surrounding facts. As I said before, I’ve accepted Robin for a while. I could ascertain the acrimony in her voice. I apperceive she knows his administration approved the afterlife amends adjoin abuse a any being with an aggravating accident aback in the day.
However, due to the quick cuts and the way the producers edited the annual into the all-embracing narrative, it seemed that the artistic aggregation was aggravating to casting her annual as if it was a beeline acknowledgment with no acrimony intended. The instance fabricated me admiration afresh aloof how abundant alteration can affect the end product.
Robin accepted her animadversion was absolutely sarcastic. She additionally explained she had no say whatsoever in the alteration process. She was not accustomed to see annihilation afore it aired, and she was appropriate to assurance a absolution apropos the use of her footage.
Regardless of the restrictions, Robin common that aggregate came out appealing accurate to form. Obviously, she can’t allege for any of the added participants, but she acquainted that the artistic aggregation casting her in a absolute light. And really, why would they not?
Anyone who has watched the alternation can acquaint she is a absolute 18-carat person. She was added than accommodating to accept accountability aback it was merited, and she came beyond as candidly affectionate to Jones’ situation. She acquainted that the documentary was a fair delineation of her annual and her emotions. She still has adamantine feelings, and this case accurately is the acumen she won’t do afterlife amends assignment anymore.
When I asked Robin if there was annihilation she admired the documentary would accept focused on more, her comments centered about Chris Jordan. She admired the artistic aggregation would accept afford added ablaze on the interactions amid law administration and Chris Jordan while he was in the badge agent alfresco of Julius’s family’s home. It is not aberrant for assemblage to acquaint law administration area affirmation may be found, but it is consistently apprehensive aback the advice comes from a co-defendant. Consequently, I was afraid as able-bodied that the assembly aggregation bootless to analyze this bend in added detail.
Regardless, it’s credible The Last Aegis strives to accomplish added than aloof entertainment. The alternation spends a fair bulk of time discussing the appellate and post-conviction action while additionally accouterment the admirers with added arguments and affirmation as to how and why the confidence ability be false. Abounding added accurate abomination shows I’ve examined, such as Marcia Clark Investigates The Aboriginal 48, don’t action that aforementioned experience.
My better appraisal of the Marcia Clark Investigates revolved about the series’ focus on cases that resulted in acquittals as adjoin to convictions. I acclaimed that “it would be abundant added acceptable to see her ‘investigate’ cases area she has the abeyant to bare new affirmation which could abetment addition who is wrongfully convicted.” The Last Aegis takes this approach, and it was auspicious to see some industry dollars spent in advocacy of that goal.
Overall, I anticipation this was a abundant documentary. It came calm able-bodied on abounding altered levels. The anecdotal casts addition ablaze on abounding of our bent amends system’s issues. I don’t consistently get the adventitious to address on the back-end of the programs I contour in this column, so I appetite to accord a big “thank you” to Robin McPhail Bruno. For addition who writes about the genre, it’s advisory to allege with an advocate profiled in a accurate abomination documentary.
The Last Aegis is currently bleared on the ABC app, so accord it a watch. The alternation is able-bodied annual your time. It gives yet addition annual of how a potentially innocent man can be bedevilled to death. Conceivably the apprehension DNA testing of the red bandana will abide that discussion.
Adam R. Banner is the architect and advance advocate at the Oklahoma Acknowledged Group, a bent aegis law close in Oklahoma City. His convenance focuses alone on accompaniment and federal bent defense. He represents the accused adjoin allegations of crimes, agitated crimes, biologic crimes and white collar crimes.
The abstraction of law isn’t for everyone, yet its convenance and action seems to charge pop ability at an accretion rate. This cavalcade is about the circle of law and pop ability in an attack to abstracted the absolute from the ridiculous.
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