The Proliferation of Massive
Inroads of Corruption
by Kandel G. Eaton
Lex est ratio summa....
"The law is the perfection of reason
and cannot suffer anything that is inconvenient."
Cicero (De Legibus, 1 at 18,
Lord Edward Coke (Commentary Upon Littleton, 1628 A.D.)
Justice Breyer (quotes both: "Liberty, Security, &
the Courts," 2003 A.D.)
Reversible Errors, a successful CBS mini-series, is
the latest legal thriller from international legend Scott Turow
(still practicing pro bono in Chicago). He was a consultant during
its production and witness to the hard work it took to bring
his Kindle County residents to life. It retains the mystery and
a tip of the hat ("The Law Offices of Marta Stern")
to its predecessor, Presumed Innocent. We want more! Soon
to be released in DVD, it is worth a second look just to figure
things out. Both Errors and Turow are quickly traversing
from legal metaphor to legal maxim.
Director Mike Robe
refreshes the plot with straight angles of few good deeds and
off-angles of frequent misdeeds, which allows the audience extra
time to ponder its complications. The hyped previews and long
commercials make the movie hard to follow. The fabulously intense
soundtrack and dialogue constantly compete against each other.
Written by Rob Roy's Alan Sharp, the script reflects a standard
nature, less compelling, than that of the book, but by focusing
on the main relationships, the impact of the death penalty process
is more intelligible.
As an updated film noir, Errors is further refined with
easily recognizable actors imitating easily recognizable characters.
These personalities in crisis, set in uncomfortable surroundings,
are enough to make you squirm without the usual genre devices
of quick edits, murders, violence, or car chases. Its one chase
scene is on foot. The four bullets fired are from one man with
a stolen gun. Sex is as distracting for the audience as it is
for the characters. But it's their intentions that come across
BUILDING UPON QUALITY DATA
The taedium vitae of ex-prosecutor
Arthur Raven (William H. Macy as Perry Mason on valium) is subdued
and renewed by enebriated Judge Gillian Sullivan(Felicity Huffman
as Olivia De Havilland gone bad). Blindly ambitious prosecutor
Muriel Wynn (Monica Potter as an emotionless Kate Capshaw) and
Larry Starczek (Tom Selleck as Bogie with a moustache) also pair
up professionally and personally. What they know and when they
know it becomes a private war in the cause of death penalty convict
Romeo "Squirrel" Gandolph(Glen Plummer as a dumbed
down Chris Rock).
The infamous pairing of airport security chief Erno Erdai (James
Rebhorn as a violent J.R. Ewing) and his "kin," druggie
nephew Collins "Faro" Farwell (Shemar Moore as an angry
young Morgan Freeman), merely plant the seeds of corruption.
Starczek allows Muriel to accompany him to the crime scene, and
she is assigned to her first big case. Louisa's best friend and
Erdai lie to Starczek in the initial investigation. Erdai's nephew
Farwell frames Squirrel for Erdai's murders by describing photos
of Louisa's babies in a cameo necklace Squirrel had.
Both the deal and case hold up when Starczek retrieves the cameo
from Squirrel's arresting officer despite his having ditched
the photos. Starczek's murder theory is foisted upon Squirrel
as a voluntary confession. Judge Sullivan hears his case at a
bench trial. His conviction puts Muriel's career on a fastrack
to be the next P.A. of Kindle County.
Seven years later, ex-judge Sullivan has served six years for
and is out of jail. State-appointed to Squirrel's final appeal,
"pro bono prince" Raven gets the case reopened through
Sullivan from a letter written by the dying, jailed Erdai. Judge
Kenton Harlow decides to hear the case. This jeopardizes Muriel's
political campaign for P.A. Erdai dies of cancer not telling
the whole truth, and has hired an attorney to protect his nephew.
Erdai was convicted for shooting, and almost killing Faro. Faro
had dug up the gun and was threatening to tell everyone about
the murders. Starczek has the gun fingerprinted and discovers
Faro is Farwell and Good Gus owned the gun. To protect Muriel,
he wipes the bullet casings with Gus's prints clean, and destroys
the print card. This exculpatory evidence confessed to Muriel
goes no further. Sullivan's past addiction and rehab is implied
but she never reveals this to Raven.
He and Judge Harlow fail to convince Mureil to allow Farwell
to testify in open court "I have to content myself with
the law correctly applied, your Honor...the right to grant immunity
is mine alone...morals are matters for conscience...," she
says. Farwell is given immunity before a grand jury, which is
adjourned, allowing him to free his conscience in his attorney's
office before Muriel and Starczek off the record. Squirrel is
Ex-Judge Sullivan takes the fall for being a heroin addict during
Squirrel's trial. He is released due to "reversible error."
The careers of Muriel and Starczek are saved. Raven wins, quits
his firm, and follows Sullivan to New Jersey. The many other
errors committed here are ignored. Anything less would have been
OF LEGAL SYSTEM INTERESTS
Reversible Errors scans the gamut of professional ethics
to complete, albeit, debatable conclusions. The trial proceedings
and prison scenes dispassionately connect a hidden culture that
lives above the laws they are bound to enforce, greedily fueled
by social climbing, bribery, and drug addiction. This thriller
is a microcosm of art imitating life upon newly created inroads
of corruption that breach equal justice from inside the legal
system. A lot can be learned from it: their circumstances and
after-thoughts grow into self-absorbed futures of the past due,
looming consequences each character wants so desperately to escape
from, but cannot. Each must ultimately face up to their regrettable
lies, but they get away with most of them. In real life legally
allowable lies appear to create more corruption against the public
This begs the question: Where does the public interest, pardon
the pun, lie? Real life supplies much less given information
and less secure decision-making. The tendency to convict people
such as Squirrel as scapegoats, sacrifices to a system that cannot
either find or has to immunize the guilty party. Oh, you can
argue that the system worked because Squirrel was in fact exonerated.
That argument is lame because Erdai and Farwell were never charged
to cover up prosecutorial misconduct. In real life Squirrel would
be dead, and a limited apology after this fact would take care
of the loose ends (eg: he was innocent). To make continual excuses
to retain such a flawed, unevenly applied process appears to
directly violate fairness and the 8th Amendment. This politically
expensive legal process is not the "perfection of reason."
Consider our present chaos and both its sources and results.
Our legal system has fragmented and malfunctioned contrary to
purpose. The foundation of "you are innocent until proven
guilty" doesn't work anymore. The Law used to be the centralization
of our society, and computers have hastened both the speed and
bulk of cases at these uneven paces. The courts have not caught
up to the inclusive capacity or potential from technology, presenting
painful delays, legally delimiting accessibility (because of
unchanged laws), closing markets and venues traditionally open
to serve the public good. Hence it is more "convenient"
not to act than to provide justice. There appears to be more
dismissed and denied cases
and a proliferation of private
law cases dividing our legal system into more segments. With
the incorporation of the profit motive into public service, streamlining
has come at the expense of individual rights.
Adversarial manipulation of rumors and gossip into legal facts
becomes a disclaimer for truth and a scandal-mongering eagerness
to convict. The death penalty process does not deter, instead
it demoralizes and takes away years of life from all its participants;
this helps undermine the credibility and authority of our legal
system. It is a weapon as unwieldy as nuclear armaments. We have
not learned our limitations from history.
PROBLEMS RESOLVE WITH TIMELY CHANGE
Legal lies have proliferated over decades, and have finally permeated
entire legal system, elite inclusiveness causing the exclusion
of the populace it was designed to serve, only symbolized by,
the War on Terror. It is our beleaguered system that has left
us unsafe. We are insecure from within. We must change and adapt
our laws to restore security, both physically and economically.
These are just some signs there are many symptoms (unresolved
crises) that reveal we are not a super power anymore.
The conviction of Martha Stewart is one. She was convicted because
she wouldn't sell out a friend. Her prosecutors wanted "to
make an example of her." They picked on a self-made celebrity
from a law that says if you claim innocence you are automatically
guilty. Other Enrons out there have been ignored. The prosecution
hasn't the capacity to prosecute them all. They rely on an honor
system to self-regulate what never worked, and thus has been
worked around by elites to keep out newcomers, when laws should
have been modified for inclusiveness.
In and out of election seasons, both Republicans and Democrats
have let us down. Neither has lived up to their promises, except
to use any means to gain political control. The majority is not
thrilled about their choices and tends to vote against a candidate,
not for s/he. Voters haven't turned out in numbers large enough
for a mandate to govern in decades, though the spin is otherwise.
As a Reagan Democrat, I have utilized write-in options. It frees
up the party spin that a vote not for their candidate is a vote
against them and America.
Even vigilant stewards of our legal system have faltered. Known
bad data and info, used anyway, is used for "convenience."
Lies causing this proliferation of corruption are tolerated.
The adamant refusal to reverse, correct, and/or change errors,
even if the law provides for it, may be the undoing of democracy.
Wrangling delays of reform, and the unheeded festering of undone
wrongs, have proliferated corruption in both our government and
private sectors, to the disfavor our collective public interests,
in forced conformity, via detrimental routinization. Bureaucracy
must first change by reforming open access to digitally accommodate
jurisprudence in our courts. Mr. Chief Justice Rhenquist, and
all y'all Honors of the US Supreme Court, tear down this wall
of red tape that divides our legal system and restore "equal
justice under law."
Posted November 9, 2004