In1977 Randal Adams was wrongly convicted of murdering police officer Robert W. Wood and was sentenced to death punishment. Years after, a filmmaker Erik Morris cast a documentary film The Thin Blue Line the main aim of which was to question the issue of guiltiness of R.Adams by showing interviews with different people, involved in investigation process and trial. Since the purpose of the film was to reveal the truth, to point at inconsistencies and unreliability of testimony, to question already settled things, its audience seems to be general public as well as certain officials who have powers to affect the overall resolution of the case.
As stated in the book Everything is an argument, whereas authority is a measure of how much command someone has over subject, credibility speaks to a writers honesty and respect for the audience. The arguments of Erik Morris seem to be reliable and worth the attention of spectator. The whole drama is presented through tete-a-tete conversation behind the main scene. It starts with the narratives about committed crime from different perspectives of defendant and the main witness for prosecution, namely Randall Adams and David Harris. This technique operated by the author makes the stories incredibly sincere and persuasive as well as trustworthy and reliable. When the curtains are closed and the game is over, everyone can forget their scene roles and tell their own opinion, feelings and emotions lying on the bottom of the heart. The statements regarding the case have been expressed by honored, respectable and reliable people such as judges, homicide detectives, police officers, attorneys and other people as well.
The thing which points at authors special way of presenting arguments is that a spectator is given a possibility to feel as a juror or judge himself/herself, since as the film proceeds he or she is presented with the formal allegations of police, as well as evidence and suggestions of witnesses, defenders, judges and with the opinion of the public. However, no comments are made. Thus, it is possible for everyone to make their own conclusion regarding the course of the event, credibility of evidence, guiltiness or innocence of certain person without any prejudice and bias. In addition, numerous visual effects are operated in order to transfer a spectator from his comfortable seat directly to crime scene, to make him feel the tension between parties, to show the contra dictations the police encountered. For example, when the clocks are moving very slowly and attention is drawn to particular moments of the whole process from the crime committing till entering the judgment it reveals the attitude of the author to this event, his considerations about fate, one key moment, wrong or right, lasting less than minute which determines the whole life. Finally, main statements about the facts presented by all persons concerned are immediately accompanied with images of documents, TV-schedules and photos supporting them which causes incredible emotional effects on spectator and makes him dive into the case much deeper.
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In the book Everything is possible the authors consider the audiences for arguments. They emphasize that certain arguments should be used for certain audience. As mentioned above, the author is intended to persuade the spectator that there are at least, a lot of contradictions, doubted evidence and questions to answer that lead to the conclusion that Randall Adams is not guilty of the committing crime he has been charged with. Since the audience is general public, he recourses to different types of appeals persuasion such as logic and emotional. From the beginning, he draws attention to the merits of the case and to contradictions of it. Firstly, the fragments of the video show as a very patient convicted Adams who in a narrative and non-emotional way tells his story. Later, for several times, the main witness for the prosecution, namely Harris reveals himself as reckless and careless guy, who has certain criminal record at the age of sixteen and who did not actually remember in which cases he pleaded guilty. Furthermore, he is presented as mentally unstable person who can beat a woman not remembering and realizing it. In addition, he claims to have certain problems with memory which has caused his incapability to remember the some events or its order of that night. Later, the spectator is encountered with even worth things. According to the statements of witnesses, the couple of Millers, it is Adams who has been a driver on the night of murder. However, another witness, an honored old lady, testified that those people were bribed and they repeatedly served the police and were used as key witnesses in the cases where there were no reliable or sufficient evidence to prove ones guilty. All these contradictory statements make the audience doubt whether the right person was convicted.
In many fragments of the movie, Morris suggests that the prosecution concocted evidence by editing testimony, suppressing significant documents; really manufacturing a case that didnt exist. However, the Morriss most thrilling argument in proving innocence of Adams, which was suggested by the one of interviewers, related to the hidden desires and ambitions of prosecutor. In fact, he did not want to see juvenile Harris being convicted for murder of police officer, who will be treated in merciful way due to his vulnerable age and unsettled life. To the contrary, the prosecutor got Harris as main witness pointing at Adams in exchange for dropping charges. He wanted to send him to death row. In addition, when the case was appealed, he filed a motion to the court asking for the change of sentence to life imprisonment which maid Adams incapable of filing motions to review the court decisions concerning his case. This idea of merciless system of justice is clearly suggested and substantially supported by Morris. It makes spectators believe that once you have got in this trap youll never get out of this. Thus, everyone should be careful in trying not to get involved. Despite of law-abiding behavior and observance of laws you can be a victim of the witness because of persons career ambitions and excessive powers. The guilty person is to be found, especially with the case of cop murder. It may be everyone regardless of whether guilty or non-guilty you are.
One more key point that threads through the whole movie relates to the necessity of finding somebody guilty of crime. The murder of police officer is one of the most resonances ever. On the one hand, officer is an official of law-enforcing body, the element ensuring the existence and functioning of the system. His murder might be interpreted as attempt to express disagree with established system or the gleams of anarchy. On the other hand, police as law-protecting agency shall prevent people from being killed and to investigate the cases and find guilty person as soon as possible. When the case at table involves the murder of policemen there is much more tension in the air. Police, detectives, investigators, press want, public want fair revenge a convicted criminal. In particular, Adams mentioned that press wrote about his pleading of guilty while he never ever plead it. Media made him guilty beforehand and it in certain way affected public opinion. After publications had been made, the situation lightened. People found somebody to blame, so everyone can relax. It is rather interesting and dramatic how people could become prejudiced in relation to innocent person and how the whole case could be ended up. They needed scapegoat they got Adams. They convicted him, they got their revenge.
This case is of great importance for the general public and for the whole world of law, since it affects it both. In the first case, taking into consideration the false character of statements provided by the couple of Millers everyone should realize that he or she may play a significant role in the life of another person. Therefore, we must be responsible for every word said and every act committed since it may lead to unpredictable results. We are all bound and on the next day someone could present false testimony against you being sure that the truth will never be discovered. On the other hand, we should blame the police and certain persons in particular for misconduct and abuse of powers. Certain conclusions are to be made from this story. An innocent human could not be sent to death row. Something is wrong with the delivering of justice than. Ones life could not be a key to someones success in professional career. Therefore, a system of supervising bodies is to be established in order to control the official entitled to certain kind of powers. In addition, such a behavior of prosecutors and other people should be ethnically inadmissible and be reason for bringing guilty persons to responsibility.
In conclusion, I would like to confess that I truly believe in innocence of Adams and the arguments presented by Morris are extremely persuasive, especially those concerning false evidence, mental illnesses of Harris, reaction of public, statements of the witnesses etc. The way of presenting the information without o comments from authors side leaves everyone the space and food for thought. However, there are still a lot of question to answer and we may never know the whole truth of the story. One more time, this movie reminds that truth is difficult to discover and we should be extremely critical and completely sure before making some conclusions