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UDC Law Hosts Screening of Crown Heights, Panel on Wrongful Convictions

Saturday, August 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin Looney
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On Friday, Aug. 25, more than 300 guests packed into an exclusive advance screening of the Sundance Audience Award winning film Crown Heights, the story of Colin Warner’s wrongful conviction and his best friend’s 21-year fight for Warner’s freedom. Following the film, guests participated in a panel discussion with UDC Law alum Jonathan Newton (’16), Council for Court Excellence (CCE) Executive Director Cynthia W. Roseberry, and Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) Jennifer Wider.

Directed by Matt Ruskin and based on an episode of This American Life, Crown Heights tells the true story of a shooting in 1980 for which Warner was wrongfully convicted. The film chronicles the efforts of Warner’s girlfriend-turned-wife, Antoinette, and his best friend, Carl King, who devoted their lives to fighting for Warner’s freedom. King even became a legal courier in order to gain access to people he hoped could help with Warner’s case.

In 2001, King found one of those people in attorney William Robedee, who took on Warner’s case, and twenty-one years after he was imprisoned, Colin Warner finally got to go home.

Although Crown Heights is ultimately an empowering story, not all wrongful convictions have happy endings. Criminal justice reform is complex, and the discussion that followed the film addressed a number of those complexities. From Newton’s personal story of false charges and his path to law school to Roseberry urging us to question what happens in our prisons, guests and panelists spent nearly an hour talking through the impact of Warner’s story and others like it in the US criminal justice system.

Participants may not have come away with all the answers, but Colin Warner’s story illustrates the need for work like that being done by UDC Law’s Criminal Law Clinic and DC Law Students in Court, the latter of which Newton serves as Deputy Director of Development.

The event was co-sponsored by Amazon Studios and CAO and brought to UDC by New Balloon Media.

After a limited release in theatres, Crown Heights is now available on demand.

Jennifer Wider, UDC Law Dean Shelley Broderick, Cynthia Roseberry, and Jonathan Newton
From left, Jennifer Wider, UDC Law Dean Shelley Broderick, Cynthia Roseberry, and Jonathan Newton pose before the panel.

Jennifer Wider, Jonathan Newton, and Cynthia Roseberry
Jonathan Newton, center, shares his story with the crowd. Jennifer Wider (left) and Cynthia Roseberry also participated in the panel.

Crowd in attendance
The screening of Crown Heights took place before a packed room at UDC Law.


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