Crime television is all around us. Almost every network dives into the flavor of the week in an attempt to capitalize on crimes past and present and draw in viewers with their offerings.
In Defense Of is doing something different.
Where most shows focus solely on the criminals, the cases, the law enforcement, or the prosecution of the case, In Defense Of is bringing to light what it takes to ensure all of those protected by the U.S. Constitution receive what they are due: the right to counsel as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment.
The attorneys who defend what can often be the ugliest and most evil of us don't always find themselves hailed by the media, but In Defense Of is a limited series on Oxygen showcasing their success with particular cases, their challenges with the same, and much more.
I had the opportunity to sit with some of the participants, as well as producer, Jane Lipsitz, and moderator Beth Karas, during a panel held at NBC earlier this week. It was an honor to listen to them speak and shake a few hands.
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Their stories are incredible and knowing I was sitting with people who were so integral in making history was stunning to me. Their jobs may not be easy, but they have prevailed through some difficult times and risen to the top of their field.
The limited series will visit the following:
Monday, June 25, Timothy McVeigh: In Defense Of — Defense attorneys, Chris Tritico and Stephen Jones, detail their time representing Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in his capital murder trial and their efforts to spare him the death penalty.
Monday, July, 2, Waco: Clive Doyle: In Defense Of — Defense attorney, Dan Cogdell, recounts the Waco Siege, and the trial the federal government launched against his client, Clive Doyle, and the other surviving members of the controversial Branch Davidians.
Monday, July 9, Jodi Arias: In Defense Of — Court-ordered to represent Jodi Arias in her sensationalized capital murder trial, Kirk Nurmi recounts his six-year ordeal to defend her, and how it irrevocably altered the course of his life.
Sunday, July 15, Ted Bundy: In Defense Of — Sought out by serial killer, Ted Bundy, in the 1970s, Criminal Defense Attorney, John Henry Browne delves into his personal and professional journey to defend one of the most notorious killers in history.
In attendance at the panel were attorneys Chris Tritico, Dan Cogdell, and John Henry Browne. After all their years in the spotlight, it was apparent they knew each other well, and if Tritico, who was approached first, had not signed onto the series, the others might not have followed.
Each attorney had different relationships with their clients. Tritico, for example, considered Timothy McVeigh a friend. “I liked Tim McVeigh,” he said. “He was friendly, nice, funny, and extremely intelligent.”
He laughed and continued, “He wasn’t going to ever come to my house for Thanksgiving, but he was a friend."
That is far different than the way Cogdell saw things with his client, Clive Doyle. He said he never received a thank you from the man who was the only Branch Davidian to walk away from the trial free and clear, although he doesn't blame him.
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Cogdell had a funny anecdote to tell after the acquittal when he and Doyle were dodging press.
He'd heard Doyle on the TV and radio say he wanted to thank God and David Koresh for this verdict over and over until finally, "after a four scotches or maybe 20, I can't remember the number, I finally grabbed a microphone and I said, 'you know, I really appreciate my client's faith, and his commitment and his belief in his Lord, but I just called the State Bar of Texas and neither God nor Koresh is licensed. I'd like a little credit for this verdict.'"
It's trite and it's silly, he said, but that verdict drives Cogdell twenty years later.
All three attorneys agree to expect to remain friends after what is the most trying period of someone's life, especially if they've been wrongfully accused, is expecting too much.
Browne didn't like Bundy, “I did not want to believe that people are born evil, but Ted Bundy changed that,” and considered leaving the profession altogether when Bundy, said the only reason they'd worked together so long was that they were so much alike.
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Browne, who lost his girlfriend to murder in 1970, found it particularly difficult to defend someone so evil. But Browne considered it his biggest challenge, too, given his (and his lost girlfriend's) stance on the death penalty.
He recalled one time Bundy was in his cell crying in a tantrum on the floor and looked up at Browne saying, "I want to be a good person, John, but I'm just not."
Their stories would be fantastical if they weren't true. They worked with people who have become almost mythical through the years, but they are grounded and interested in making the world a better place, not trying to save the lives of evil men.
You will only understand the full picture if you tune in, and I can assure you the attorneys are as charismatic and interesting on their episodes of the series as they were in person.
You'll have even more time and the benefit of more facts to help you better understand what it takes to defend the guilty so you can keep the not-guilty out prison, five percent of which make up the prison population at this time.
They consider their jobs, dirty as they can be at times, worth the more troubling times if it means they can do what they can to keep that number as low as possible.
Check your local listings to discover on what channel you can watch Oxygen and mark your calendar so you tune into In Defense Of beginning Monday at 9/8c.
Don't miss this worthy new addition to Oxygen's lineup!