Wrongfully convicted man has a 'new perspective'

Alton Logan, who was wrongfully convicted of killing a Cook County corrections officer at a Chicago-area restaurant in 1983, spoke about his new book, “Justice Failed: How “Legal Ethics” Kept Me in Prison for 26 Years,” at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus on May 22.

Logan, then 28, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of killing an off-duty Cook County corrections officer in a Chicago-area restaurant. What Logan didn’t know was that a man named Andrew Wilson had confessed to the crime. Wilson had confided his guilt to his attorneys, who did not come forward with the information for more than two decades due to attorney-client confidentiality. A signed affidavit containing Wilson’s confession had been hidden for years in a fireproof strong box in his
attorney’s home, keeping Logan behind bars. It wasn’t released until after Wilson’s death in November 2007.

Following additional hearings and witness testimony, Alton was released on bond in April 2008. He was 54. Alton was formally declared innocent on April 17, 2009, through a Certificate of Innocence issued by Judge Paul Biebel Jr.

During the WMU-Cooley event, Berl Falbaum, co-author of the book, and Harold Winston, Logan’s public defender, detailed the challenging legal proceedings of Logan’s case. They also explained the difficult choices Logan faced while incarcerated, including being unable to attend his mother’s funeral, having had to choose between 15 minutes with his mother, who was dying of breast cancer, or attending her funeral.

“If I could go back in time, I would make sure that everything happened to me from that time forward, didn’t happen,” Logan said. “I have a new perspective on life and I look at individuals more deeply.”

While in prison, Logan took courses in carpentry, electrical installation, typing, and earned his GED and associate of applied science certificate, as well as a certificate for building maintenance.

Logan, Winston, and Falbaum are advocating a change in the attorney-client confidentiality rule to permit lawyers to disclose confidential information to prevent wrongful incarceration.  Only two states, Alaska and Massachusetts, have provisions permitting lawyers to disclose confidential client information to prevent wrongful incarceration. Michigan is studying the issue.