News Release

Team behind "The Exonerated" to receive NACDL's Champion of Justice award

Play depicts stories of wrongfully imprisoned  

Washington, DC (April 28, 2003) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers will present its Champion of Justice award to the writers, director, and lead producer of “The Exonerated,” the hit off-Broadway play which depicts the stories of six innocent persons released after spending between two and 20 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. The awards will be presented at the Friday luncheon (noon, May 2) during NACDL’s spring meeting at the Marriott Marquis Times Square, 1535 Broadway, New York City.

The awards will go to writers Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, director Bob Balaban, and lead producer Allan Buchman. The play continues at the 45 Bleecker Theater, where it opened in October 2002. A 25-city national tour of the play is scheduled to begin in October 2003.

“The stories of the 127 innocent persons freed by DNA testing have moved the criminal defense bar for years now,” said Barry Scheck, NACDL First Vice President and co-founder of the Innocence Project. “‘The Exonerated’ helps bring the message of the tragedy of wrongful convictions to the public.”

The Champion of Justice is given periodically by NACDL to journalists, humanitarians, legislators, legal practitioners, and others whose work furthers the cause of justice. Previous recipients include Mexican President Vicente Fox former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, death penalty activists Bianca Jagger and Sister Helen Prejean, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, journalists Ofra Bikel (PBS Frontline), Bob Herbert (New York Times) and Molly Ivins (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram), and Congressmen Barney Frank (D-MA), Joseph McDade (R-PA), and John Conyers (D-MI).

The presentations will by followed by excerpts from the play performed by actors currently performing as part of the rotating cast, and then by a luncheon speech by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). 

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.