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Former college beat writer helps get murder conviction overturned

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jim_Carty, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Jim_Carty

    Jim_Carty Member

    My former Ann Arbor News colleague and current second-year Michigan law student Brett DeGroff helped free a likely innocent man from prison today (that's him in the background of the Freep picture with the story linked below). He was part of a team of students that went out and gathered new evidence, re-interviewed witnesses, and reviewed old evidence to discover major discrepancies with how the case was prosecuted. Brett had previously presented some of that new evidence to a judge, part of a team arguing for a new evidentiary hearing.

    I post this both because it's cool, and because it's proof the skills you develop as a journalist can have many applications.

    Brett covered preps and then Eastern Michigan for the News and, in a different era, would have had a very nice career as a sportswriter. He loved the job.

    And yet, I'll bet he feels pretty damn good tonight.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20091103/NEWS02/91102088/1320/2001-murder-conviction-overturned

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/michigan-law-students-innocence-clinic/story?id=8803820
     
  2. I don't want this thread to die on the vine.

    There's a lot of cynicism about the law school route on this board. There is also a lot of fretting about whether it is possible to feel fulfilled professionally doing something other than covering sports for a living.

    This should serve as an antidote to both of those memes.
     
  3. spud

    spud Member

    I think you have to cut some of those cynics some slack. Yes, this is a cool story, and yep, those reporting skills undoubtedly helped this along. But the (quite expensive) law school route is proposed almost by default to struggling journos to the point where people just kind of think they're supposed to do it now because it's financially solvent and it makes practical sense. I am desperately looking for a way out, but I hate law to the point that I'll keep doing this until I can find something else.

    Plus, a lot of people are working through their own demons with this business on this board. I don't think this is an antidote as much as its a success story that needs telling just on the basis that hearing good news about former sports guys is reason enough for optimism period.
     
  4. Jim_Carty

    Jim_Carty Member

    My goal here wasn't to suggest anyone go to law school, just to share a next-step success story.

    Our Michigan football writer, btw, was still covering the team until early June. Now he's in a 1-year master's in education program, and he's already teaching in a classroom twice a week (while still receiving his buyout money).

    Lots of good stories out there.

    PS: Spud, although you're correct that law school can be quite expensive, one of its hidden secrets is that it's fairly easy to get a full scholarship if you put some work into the LSAT and are willing to trade off on going to a school outside the Top 25.
     
  5. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    I worked with Jim and Brett at The News and have no doubt both will make great attorneys.

    I am very, very happy for Brett. Though we had some interesting political discussions in which we agreed to disagree, he's a great guy. He was very determined to succeed at The News, and that clearly is helping him now, which doesn't surprise me. Way to go, Brett!
     
  6. My big point was that there is professional excitement and fulfillment available in other paths than covering football on Friday nights. There are people on this board - dozens - who will fight you to the death over that notion.
     
  7. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    This needs to be the take-home from this thread.
     
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