Have you ever wondered how defence attorneys can defend people obviously guilty of heinous crimes like murder or rape? Especially when, in spite of all the evidence, they somehow manage to get them acquitted? Some lawyers will tell you that everyone deserves a defence as that’s an integral part of the judicial system – people are after all presumed innocent until proven guilty. In fact the prosecution has a far harder job than the defence as it has to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that a person is guilty. If a jury has any doubts about a defendant’s guilt they have to find in his or her favour. Yet doubt about guilt is not the same as proving innocence, sometimes it just means the case against a person wasn’t conclusive enough for the prosecution to persuade the jury the accused was guilty – even if they were.
So, it’s not necessary for defence attorneys to believe their clients are innocent, it’s just necessary for them to believe they can convince a jury there isn’t enough evidence to find them guilty. However, that’s not always the case. In the five-part mini-series Injustice, being released on DVD Tuesday August 28 by Acorn Media, we meet barrister William Travers (James Purefoy) who has always believed in his clients’ innocence. (In British law there are two different types of lawyer. Solicitors represent persons in all matters outside of court while barristers are hired specifically to represent them in court) Even Travers’ opponents in the crown prosecutor’s office (British equivalent of district attorney but not a political office or appointment) acknowedge he has always believed in his clients’ innocence.
So his wife Jane (Dervia Kirwan) is surprised and worried when he agrees to defend a friend of theirs from university accused of murdering his much younger secretary with whom he had been having an affair. Jane had given up a successful career with a publishing house in London in order to help him start over again, and is slightly put out that he’s all of a sudden agreeing to go back and work in London again. However, she’s mainly worried whether or not he’ll be able to handle the pressure of working on such a high profile case again, figuring that was what caused his breakdown after the bombing case.
While we find out what’s really troubling Travers through a series of flashbacks (there’s no way I’m telling you anything about them) and that he’s nowhere near as well as he claims he is, on the surface he seems to be the consummate professional. The one thing he does insist on when he agrees to take his old friend’s case is if at any time he receives the impression his client is guilty he will quit immediately. It’s while he’s preparing to go to London to start work the police discover the body of the man he defended in the bombing case. He had been shot in the head at point blank range and, as the cop heading up the investigation, Detective Inspector (DI) Mark Wenborn (Charlie Creed-Miles) says, it looks like he’d been executed.
While DI Creed-Miles hunts for clues as to who might have killed his victim, Travers is investigating who else could have possibly wanted to kill his friend’s secretary, murdered in the hotel room the two of them had been sharing. He had gone out to get her something from a restaurant around the corner and claims to have found her dead when he returned.