The Innocent Man – John Grisham

Last night I completed “The Innocent Man” by John Grisham. It is the first work of non-fiction by Grisham and it really is a shocking book. The book is about the false conviction of two guys on the charges of a murder. The cooked testimonies, the fabricated evidences, and some junk science led to two guys being falsely imprisoned for 11 years. One of them was just days away from being executed and the death row made him insane.

Ron Williamson was arrested only because he was a shady figure, and had got in trouble with police earlier. The other guy – Dennis Fritz was involved only because he was a “drinking buddy” of Ron. The actual killer Glen Gore had supplied the name of Ron Williamson, and while all circumstantial evidence pointed to Glen Gore (he was the last person seen with the girl who was murdered) he was allowed to go free. His hair & blood samples were taken but never tested. Later on he testified that he was peddling drugs and sharing his profits with the police that time, so he was never checked upon thoroughly.

If such a thing could happen in the world’s most developed country, where the law and order conditions are exemplary imagine what could happen in some other place where such conditions are at best mediocre. This book shook my faith in the judicial system.

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8 Responses to “The Innocent Man – John Grisham”


  1. 1 Aditya January 5, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    is it a true story??? i nevr thot tht the US judicial system would be prone to such flaws….if such is the scene thr…v cant blame the indian judiciary too much….
    john grishman handles law very beautifully nd vividly…. 🙂

  2. 2 apes January 9, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Hi..

    I was doin my same ol’ routine of checking mails @ work this morning and I’m still not sure how I came across your blog but I’m glad I did.
    This comment is not specific to any one post… The long list under “Ancient mumblings” caught my eye!

    Just wanted something to kick start my day, and though I dont think I’ve achieved that even after reading your ENTIRE blog, I think I am atleast feeling a bit better. Sigh! Keep writing…

  3. 3 Kunal January 9, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Aditya, yes it is a true story…

    apes, that is high praise indeed… Thanks a lot..

  4. 4 Barbara January 15, 2007 at 2:48 am

    Who And Where Is Dennis Fritz, You say after reading John Grisham’s Book “The Innocent man”, Grisham’s First non-fiction book. The Other Innocent Man hardly mentioned in “The Innocent Man” has his own compelling and fascinating story to tell in “Journey Toward Justice”. John Grisham endorsed Dennis Fritz’s Book on the Front Cover.
    Dennis Fritz wrote his Book Published by Seven Locks Press, to bring awareness about False Convictions, and The Death Penalty. “Journey Toward Justice” is a testimony to the Triumph of the Human Spirit and is a Stunning and Shocking Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. “The Innocent Man” by John Grisham is all about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz’s was his co-defendant. Ronnie Williamson was sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. They were set free because of a simple DNA test. The real killer was one of the Prosecution’s Key Witness. John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” tells half the story. Dennis Fritz’s Story needs to be heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man from Ada Oklahoma, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975.
    On May 8, 1987 while raising his young daughter alone, he was put under arrest and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns. Dennis Fritz is now on his “Journey Toward Justice”.
    He never blamed the Lord and soley relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God’s time and never gave up.
    Sincerely,
    Barbara

  5. 5 Kunal January 15, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Thanks for the information Barbara. I’ll surely read “Journey Toward Justice”…

  6. 6 John Brown March 5, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Having just finished reading “The Innocent Man”, which I found compelling, I was left with a sense of disbelief at the seemingly incompetent and corrupt local law enforcement and legal system. I was surprised that nobody seemed to have lost their job and that District Attorney Bill Peterson still held that position today.
    My interest piqued I sought out more information about the case and found a website set up by Mr Peterson addressing John Grishams book. His section on “Exposing The Truth” is a must read for those who wish to be able to take a balanced view of the investigation and prosecution of Ron Williams and Dennis Fritz. He is clearly bitter towards Grisham, and I don’t accept several of his ascertains and their significance, but I do think he makes some very valid points regarding “The Innocent Man” and how the facts are spun for dramatic effect. The bottom line is that 2 men were undoubtedly wrongly convicted so there had to be problems with the system, but while John Grisham would leave you with ideas of incompetence, corruption and a vendetta against the 2 defendants, I now believe this to be far from reality.
    The Innocent Man puts the Ada law enforcement and legal system itself on trial and puts the case for the prosecution; it’s only fair that you should also hear the case for the defence before making up your mind.
    http://www.billpetersondistrictattorney.com/

  7. 7 Billpeterson Isevil November 22, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I sincerely believe that Bill Peterson should be on death row. At the minimum, disbarred and the target of another major civil lawsuit against him and those individuals within Ada law enforcement who knowingly targeted innocent individuals and illegally trampled upon their rights. Bill Peterson: you are an unremorseful, evil man whom I would imagine many will be happier upon your death. Those of you in law enforcement in the area who still engage in such activity: BEWARE; the public is watching you!
    For all practical purposes, Bill Peterson murdered Ron Williamson. He destroyed years of Dennis Fritz life and subjected him to of the most horrible predicaments possible: to be recommended for capital punishment and subsequently sentenced to life in prison and for something of which he was innocent. Bill Peterson sent other innocents to prison including Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot and apparently is content that they continue to suffer in incarceration.
    Residents of Ada and Oklahoma should pressure their senators, congressmen, and govenor’s office to conduct police internal affairs (with FBI involvement if possible) into the present and past connection of members of the police department and possibly district attorney’s office with illegal drug trafficing. The link between the drug trafficing by Glen Gore and the Ada Police was mentioned in Grisham’s The Innocent Man. It just might be continuing today particularly given the large cash flow generally assumed to exist in drug trafficing. John Grisham, Dennis Fritz, Robert Mayer, and the legal team responsible for the exhonoration of Williamson and Fritz should be commended for their perseverance, diligence, and call to duty for justice. It is furthurmore a disgrace that Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot remain in jail. Residents of Oklahoma, you have a civil duty to pressure your public officials to reverse the dreadful injustice led by Bill Peterson which continues to punish two innocent people who remain incarcerated today. Public officials of Oklahoma and especially those of Pontotoc County and in particular Ada: Shame on You!!! Clean up your act and serve your constituents rather than terrorizing them!!!

    • 8 Not Needed March 22, 2011 at 11:35 am

      I may not know much about the original case, but what I do know is that I have met Dennis Fritz in person and delt with him on several occasions. He is NOT a compassionate, kind, gentle, soul, he is a mean and arrogant man on a power trip from hell. He expects you to know WHO he is and jump at every minor request no matter how insane. His word is God and you had better not question his judgement irregardless of your knowledge on the subject.

      I am not saying there may or may not have been fault with the case, but I think people should also not assume that he is the helpless victim that I have seen him protrayed as in several reports. I would not wish it on my worst enemy to have to deal with that man on a daily basis.


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