Documentary filmmakers Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock are rejoicing with the landmark ruling today by New York’s Court of Appeals, declaring that Adrian Thomas, the subject of their doc “Scenes of a Crime,” underwent a “coercive” interrogation and that his confession was “involuntary.” The 31-year-old man, who was convicted of killing his own child and was sentenced to a lifetime in prison, will now have a re-trial.
The ruling places new limits on extreme tactics police can use on suspects.
Thomas’s 2009 murder conviction on the basis of a confession obtained after 10 hours of harsh psychological interrogation was brought to life by the documentary, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
The filmmakers reached out to legal interest groups in the case, and travelled nationally for screenings. They actively engaged the Innocence Project, Legal Aid Society of New York, Center on Wrongful Convictions, and Office of the Appellate Defender in the case, provoking multiple amicus briefs in support of Thomas, and they appeared on the national NPR radio program “Tell Me More” to speak about their ongoing efforts.