Monday, June 16, 2008

Writ Writer

See this review of the public television special aired last night featuring the life and work of Fred Cruz, a legendary TDCJ "writ writer" convicted of armed robbery in 1960 who insisted upon his own innocence until his death in prison. The documentary examines Cruz's legal work on behalf of himself and (more successfully) other prisoners through the lens of interviews with those who knew him, court records and Cruz's own journals. I missed the initial airing and hope they run it again soon.


Anonymous said...

Your use of the word "legendary" to describe a convict writ writer reminds me of the following...

I once asked a lawyer in south texas if she knew a certain defense attorney in her town, because a friend of mine was dating that defense attorneys daughter. That daughter had described her lawyer father as a prominent criminal defense attorney.

Upon asking my friend, she said that "if by prominent you mean lying, cheating, stealing, drug cartel embracing crook, then yes, he is a prominent lawyer."

Anonymous said...

Defense attorneys are the thin red, white and blue lines between law and order and tyranny.

Anonymous said...

There is more at PBS, including local listings.

Anonymous said...

Fred: Surely, you jest. Not about PBS, but about the thin red,white and blue line.

Wouldn't being the line involve some kind of oath to be a truthteller and to always do right, no matter what?

Anonymous said...

90% of criminal defense lawyers are just not really competent at what they do. Then 90% of most folks are not really competent at what they do.

You need to have a member of the 10% that are competent represent you. Unfortunately that is very hard to do and requires a lot of luck and a lot of money. Something 90% of folks don't have.

It is very useful that there are writ writers in the prison system. Every little bit of positive effort helps!

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic documentary, Grits! I caught the first airing and was fascinated by the history. In particular, I hadn't realized what an important role TDCJ "writ writers" or jailhouse lawyers had played in Texas prison reform.

For anon at 4:53, the documentary touches on the dissonance between a man who is a hero in prison, but just a convict on the outside. Defense attorneys are just another player in an adversarial system where everyone's ethics are tested routinely. Surely you're aware of prosecutors who also meet the definitition of a "lying, cheating, stealing, drug cartel (money!) embracing crook."

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