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Legal Watch: Our Biweekly Take on Legal Dramas – “Just Mercy”

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Posted on April 20, 2023

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, “Just Mercy” is a 2019 legal drama film based on the memoir of the same name by Bryan Stevenson. The film stars Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson, a Harvard Law graduate who sets up a legal practice in Alabama to defend wrongly convicted death row prisoners, specifically Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. “Just Mercy” explores themes of systemic racism, injustice, and the power of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Racial Inequality

The film highlights how racism and bias can influence the justice system, leading to wrongful convictions and harsher sentences. The main character, Walter McMillian, was convicted based on the testimony of a white witness who had a history of making false statements, and the prosecution used racial stereotypes to argue that he was a violent criminal. This ultimately led to McMillian being sentenced to death, despite a lack of evidence against him. His case emphasizes the deep-rooted racism and prejudice in the justice system and the consequences that it can have. Personal injury attorneys work diligently to ensure justice for people who are discriminated against. It is important to be mindful of the ways in which race and ethnicity can impact clients’ experiences.

The Importance of Expertise

Although it seems like common sense, the importance of education and expertise in navigating the legal system cannot be overstated. Particularly in this film, Bryan Stevenson’s education and expertise were critical to his ability to fight for his clients and achieve justice. This is portrayed in his relationship with Walter McMillian’s family. Stevenson was able to use his legal knowledge to help the McMillian family navigate the legal system and fight for Walter’s freedom. Besides aiding the family in their son’s release, Stevenson and his team worked with the Equal Justice Initiative, advocating for systemic change. These efforts led to the release of numerous wrongfully convicted individuals. On the contrary, lack of education and expertise can be a significant barrier to justice, particularly for those who cannot afford attorneys.

Attorneys play an integral role in not only being a legal representative to the courts, but to helping clients and their families navigate such difficulties with as much ease as possible. Many people are unfamiliar with legal terms, strategies, and other pertinent information when one files a claim. Attorneys should explain the process in great detail and walk you through it, step-by-step, so that it is not so intimidating.

The Power of the Legal System

One of the central themes in “Just Mercy” is the power of the legal system to either uphold justice or perpetuate injustice. The movie depicts how the legal system can be manipulated to serve the interests of those in power, often at the expense of marginalized individuals. The justice system is portrayed as a complex web of laws, procedures, and rules that can be confusing and overwhelming for those unfamiliar with it. Bryan Stevenson’s character represents the power of knowledge and education in navigating the legal system.

Lasting Remarks

“Just Mercy” offers a powerful commentary on the flaws and injustices of the legal system, as well as the resilience and determination required to fight against them. By examining the themes presented in the movie, personal injury attorneys can learn valuable lessons about the importance of education of social issues, the role of racism in the legal system, and the power of hope and perseverance when advocating for individuals. Through  the story of Bryan Stevenson and his work with the Equal Justice Initiative, the film provides valuable lessons for our South Jersey personal injury lawyerslooking to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals. They can help level the playing field and fight for a more just and equitable society.