A recent episode of the the podcast, “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” examines the case of an exoneree named John Thompson, who was wrongfully convicted of two crimes he didn’t commit in mid-1980s New Orleans. When a man from a wealthy business family was robbed and murdered, the District Attorney’s office wanted a conviction and they wanted it fast — they also wanted the maximum penalty for whoever committed the crime. These circumstances led to Thompson being wrongfully convicted of two crimes he didn’t commit and being placed on death row.
With the help of two Philadelphia attorneys, Thompson was eventually able to secure his freedom in 2003. Attorneys Gordon Cooney and Michael Banks of Philadelphia’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP worked on the case pro bono for 11 years before Thompson was released. The two were corporate lawyers just a few years into their careers when they first took on the case due to reservations about the death penalty and an interest in pro bono work. Cooney is a member of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project’s Board and Banks is also a great supporter of the work here at the Project.
You can listen to the podcast to learn more about Cooney and Banks’s involvement in the case and how misconduct by the New Orleans District Attorney’s office led to Thompson spend 18 years wrongfully imprisoned, including 14 years on death row.
“John Thompson vs. American Justice”: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/id1050430296?mt=2&i=1000407843327