I am skeptical of the potential effects on our criminal justice system that true crime documentaries may have, and I’m therefore disappointed in your editorial decision to allow someone working in the genre to author an article about it (Nathan J. Comp, “Court of Last Resort,” 12/15/2016). The article is patently biased in favor of documentaries, podcasts and other media and their potential to correct our criminal justice system. I shudder at the thought that he who has the best documentary team will have the best chance of winning in court.
The article also inexplicably failed to mention the Innocence Project — maybe because Comp and his cohorts think documentarians should hold more sway in our courts than trained legal professionals? I support the Innocence Project, but I also advocate for healthy doses of skeptical criticism and diligent supplemental research after viewing the “new true crime” that Isthmus shamelessly allowed Comp to peddle.
Andrew Westley (via email)
“Court of Last Resort” does not mention that the current true crime documentaries related to injustice are part of a long tendency for the media to champion those who were imprisoned. One of the most prominent of those activities was the actual “Court of Last Resort,” a group of nationally known experts convened by Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner and Henry Stege, publisher of the men’s adventure magazine Argosy. Starting in 1948 they would select cases sent to them by convicts who felt they were unjustly imprisoned. For 10 years, a case appeared in almost every issue of Argosy in which the Court, at their own expense, succeeded in freeing someone who was unjustly convicted.
It is interesting to reflect on how in the staid, conservative ’50s, justice mattered enough for a national magazine to take it on as a project. I am glad that commitment continues today in other media as many in our country could use some justice.
George Hagenauer (via email)
Sink or swim
Re: “Brewhaha” (12/15/2016): I live right behind Olbrich Gardens — love the idea of a biergarten and canoe rental!
Shelly Nelson (via Facebook)
I oppose [the biergarten]. I hope it sinks to the bottom of Lake Monona. All the east side needs is another place for people to get drunk. The east side isn’t a frat house.
Charles Brown (via Facebook)
This is a great project, and the city needs to build on projects like this and the success at Breese Stevens to revitalize our city parks. Stay the course, city alders, and thank you for your forward thinking.
Brian Grandt (via Facebook)
Loved Tom Kobinsky’s story on Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Madtown locals enshrined (“Badger Hall-of-Famers,” 12/15/2016), but what...no exhibit on Funky Drummer Clyde Stubblefield?? My gosh, was that election fixed, too?
Eddye Hoffensperger (via email)