HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY LAWYERS KEPT A SECRET THAT KEPT HIM IN JAIL FOR THE PAST 26 YEARS, SAYS AN INNOCENT MAN IN HIS FIRST INTERVIEW -- "60 MINUTES"
Legally Bound from Revealing the Secret, the Lawyers Say they Suffered for Keeping it,
But Certainly Not as Much as an Innocent Alton Logan Did the Past 26 Years
Alton Logan doesn't understand why two lawyers with proof he didn't commit murder were legally prevented from helping him. They had their reasons: To save Logan, they would have had to break the cardinal rule of attorney-client privilege to reveal their own client had committed the crime. But Logan had 26 years in prison to try to understand why he was convicted for a crime he didn't commit. Logan, still in jail, speaks to Bob Simon in his first interview for a report that also includes the lawyers which will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 9 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"Yes. Sympathize with [the lawyers' dilemma], yes. Understand it, no," Logan tells Simon. "If you know this is an innocent person, why would you allow this person to be prosecuted, convicted, sent to prison for all these years?" asks the 54-year-old inmate.
Lawyers Jamie Kunz and Dale Coventry were public defenders when their client, Andrew Wilson, admitted to them he had shot-gunned a security guard to death in a 1982 robbery. When a tip led to Logan's arrest and he went to trial for the crime, the two lawyers were in a bind. They wanted to help Logan but legally couldn't. "The rules of conduct for attorneys, it's very, very clear....We're in a position to where we have to maintain client confidentiality, just as a priest would or a doctor would. It's just a requirement of the law. The system wouldn't work without it," says Coventry.
They watched Logan's trial to see whether he got a life or death sentence. "We thought that somehow we would stop at least the execution," Coventry tells Simon. "Morally, there's very little difference and we were torn about that, but in terms of the canons of ethics, there is a difference -- you can prevent a death."
Logan doesn't see it that way. "There is no difference between life in prison and a death penalty, none whatsoever. Both are a sentence of death," says Logan, who pointed out that it is easy to be murdered in a dangerous prison.
The lawyers say it was hard on them mentally. "There's nothing you can say [to Logan]," says Coventry. "It's been difficult for us. But there's no comparison whatsoever to what it's been for this poor guy," he says "Alton, whether or not you can understand it, we've been hurting for you for 26 years," says Kunz. "How often did I think about it? Probably 250 times a year. I mean I thought about it regularly."
It's little consolation to Logan. "Everything that was dear to me is gone," he tells Simon.
The lawyers did get permission from Wilson, to reveal upon his death his confession to the murder Logan was convicted for. Wilson died late last year and Coventry and Kunz came forward. Next Monday, a judge will hear evidence in a motion to grant Logan a new trial. It's the first step in what could be a long process. "They are quick to convict but they are slow to correct their mistakes," says Logan.
Coventry is satisfied with his decision. "In terms of my conscience, my conscience is that I did the right thing. Do I feel bad about Logan? Absolutely, I feel bad about Logan."
Logan doesn't know when he will be exonerated and released, but when that time comes, he has a plan. "To leave this state on the quickest thing I can get. I want nothing more to do with the state of Illinois," he tells Simon.