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When two men were prosecuted for a murder back in 1975, it only took the jury 12 minutes to deliberate and return guilty verdicts. This makes it sound like it was an open and shut case against these men, with overwhelming evidence that the two men were obviously and without a doubt guilty of the criminal charges they faced.

Now 27 years later, both men have been exonerated of the murder convictions. So what changed? Well, in their original trial, the jury was not told that there were two other possible suspects in the case, both of whom had been questioned by the police.

In addition, the prosecution's only witness was a paranoid schizophrenic who did not even testify under her legal name in order to hide her questionable background. By not uncovering this extremely valuable information, the criminal defense in this case seriously failed their two clients.

Now that these facts have been made clear, the men have been released from spending a majority of their lives in prison. So who is to blame for taking away their lives, and what can New Jersey residents learn from this story?

In this case, the two men are hoping to hold the prosecutors responsible for their wrongful conviction, in the hopes that the treatment they suffered at trial will not occur to other innocent victims. The argument could also be made for a strong criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect one's rights, especially when serious consequences for criminal charges are on the line.

Source: thinkprogress.org, "Louisiana Exonerees Who Spent 27 Years Behind Bars Sue For Civil Rights Violations," Tara Culp-Ressler, July 18, 2012

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