Discussion Of The Documentary The Thin Blue Line By Errol Morris

1241 words - 5 pages

The Faux Blue Line'The Thin Blue Line' is a phrase that refers to the idea that police officers, in there blue uniforms, are the only barrier between brutal anarchy and civilized society. This phrase became the title of a documentary film concerning the murder of a Texas police officer who had stopped a car for a routine traffic citation. The documentary presents testimony suggesting that the police altered, fabricated, and suppressed evidence to convict the man they wanted to be guilty, in spite of evidence to the contrary. In 1985, a filmmaker, Errol Morris became interested in Dr. James Grigson, a psychiatrist in Dallas. Under Texas law, the death penalty can only be issued if the jury is convinced that the defendant is not only guilty, but will commit further violent crimes in the future if he is not put to death. Grigson had spent fifteen years testifying for such cases, and he almost invariably gave the same damning testimony, often saying that it is "one hundred per cent certain" that the defendant would kill again. For this reason Grigson was nicknamed "Dr. Death". In more than half of the trials in Texas each year the prosecution presented damaging testimony from a psychiatrist who, based upon a hypothetical question describing the defendant's past, predicted the defendant would commit future violence. In most of these cases, the psychiatrist offered this opinion without ever examining the defendant. Although this kind of testimony is sometimes used in other states, the American Psychiatric Association has condemned it as unethical and untrustworthy. Through Grigson, Morris would meet the subject of his next film, thirty-six year-old Randall Dale Adams. Adams was serving a life sentence that had been commuted from a death sentence on a legal technicality for the 1976 murder of Robert Wood, a Dallas police officer. Errol Morris began researching the case and because his film brought national attention to the case, an innocent man was released from prison after eleven years. This sad story of an innocent man whose life was almost lost for a crime he did not commit is a telling story of the failure of the justice system. This essay will further argue that Randall Adams not only innocent but a victim of the miscarriage of justice in the Texas system because the unreliable testimony of the other officer who witnessed the murder, Adam's complete lack of any prior criminal record, his lack of motive, and the unacceptable targeting of Adams by the department and the District Attorney for immoral reasons.The evidence of Randall Adams's innocence is overwhelming. Officer Teresa Turko, who was present at the time of Wood's murder, gave her statement directly after the shooting occurred and then for the trial gave a very different account of these events. Just fifteen minutes after her partner had been killed Turko stated there had only been one man in the vehicle with a big fur lined collar jacket with no mention of bushy hair. She turned out to an...

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