On September 30, a judge overturned the conviction of a man arrested for murder in 1994. Obie Anthony is tasting freedom for the first time in nearly two decades after information came to light that one of the key witnesses for the prosecution lied under oath, his testimony helping to damn Anthony to prison. Worse, the judge chastised the prosecution for not revealing that they had in fact made a deal with the witness-a pimp-to testify against Anthony in exchange for leniency. This case may have taken place in LA, but here in Denver, criminal attorneys can’t help but shake their heads.
Sometimes our legal system works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Anthony’s co-defendant Reggie Cole was freed several months ago, and reportedly cheered in the courtroom when Anthony’s release was ordered.
Whether this release was a victory for our criminal justice system remains to be seen; after all, the actual shooter from the 1994 killings outside of an LA brothel remains undiscovered as a result of this development. However, certainly it’s a victory for Anthony and his criminal defense attorneys. It also shows that even when it fails, our legal system can succeed.
It is perhaps tragic that Obie Anthony spent seventeen years in prison based on flawed testimony, but in the end, one hopes, justice has been served for Anthony and will eventually be served for the victims of the tragic shootings. Still the freeing of an innocent man-and let’s not forget, that everyone in our justice system is considered innocent until proven otherwise-must be considered as much of a victory for the legal system as the conviction of a guilty man. The criminal defense attorneys who filed appeal for Anthony and his co-defendant should be lauded for their success in demonstrating that sometimes a failure in the legal system can be rectified.