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Murder on a Sunday Morning
     

Murder on a Sunday Morning

4.5 4
Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

Cast: Pat McGuinness

 
The genesis of this Oscar-winning documentary feature was one of the more appalling miscarriages of justice in recent American history. In May of 2000, an elderly German woman was shot and killed by a black assailant in Jacksonville, FL. Anxious not to damage their tourist trade, the Jacksonville police rushed out and picked up the first black "suspect" who happened

Overview

The genesis of this Oscar-winning documentary feature was one of the more appalling miscarriages of justice in recent American history. In May of 2000, an elderly German woman was shot and killed by a black assailant in Jacksonville, FL. Anxious not to damage their tourist trade, the Jacksonville police rushed out and picked up the first black "suspect" who happened to be available: 15-year-old Brendon Butler, who at the time of his arrest, was en route to a job interview. The grieving husband of of the murder victim, who had glimpsed the killer from a distance, was virtually coerced by the arresting officers into identifying Butler as the guilty party -- and later, thanks to the strong-arm tactics of his interrogators, and without benefit of counsel, the boy confessed to a crime which he did not commit. Brash, chain-smoking public defender Pat McGuinness, sensing that the prosecution's case stank to high heaven, proceeded to mount a courtroom defense for Butler which may well survive the decades as a textbook case of brilliant jurisprudence -- while the trial itself will undoubtedly forever serve as a cautionary example of the perils and pitfalls and prejudice of "swift justice." Assembled by French documentary filmmakers Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, this 111-minute feature was originally released under the title Un coupable ideal. As Murder on a Sunday Morning, the film was afforded a Los Angeles theatrical showing in September of 2001 to qualify for the Academy Awards; most Americans, however, saw the film when it aired on the HBO cable network on April 2, 2002.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
Filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade did not set out to make this stunning film about a rush to judgment; he was in Jacksonville on another project when this case broke, and fortunately, he was able to line up cooperation with several principals, as well as getting his camera inside the courtroom where Brendon Butler was on trial. Butler comes off as a poster child for racial profiling, but he's an unformed teenager. The real star here is public defender Pat McGuinness. Never far from a glass of whiskey, McGuinness comes off like a character out of a John Grisham novel, the hard-working, lone-wolf attorney who knows he's got a miscarriage of justice by the tail and won't let go. He's not flamboyant, just determined and amazingly tactful; he ingratiates himself with the local police to get important evidence and then lowers the boom on them during the trial, making it clear that a detective was much more interested in closing a case than in getting the right man. Interestingly, that detective, who intimidated Butler with a well-administered beating, is black, so the case is not all that, um, black-and-white. De Lestrade lets some scenes play out a tad too long, but otherwise this is a model documentary that lets its amazing story tell itself without resorting to overly dramatic narration or trumped-up visuals. Not as artfully presented as Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line, it is also the kind of heart-in the-right-place film that almost always wins the Oscar for Documentary Feature -- "almost," since Morris' film wasn't even nominated.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/29/2003
UPC:
0767685954034
Original Release:
2001
Rating:
NR
Source:
Docurama
Presentation:
[Letterbox]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time:
1:51:00
Sales rank:
32,871

Special Features

Cast interviews; Deleted scenes; Original police confession; Filmmaker biography; Interactive menus; Scene selection

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Patrick McGuinness [2:37]
2. Ann Finnell [5:15]
3. Opening Statements [3:58]
4. The Eye-Witness [9:56]
5. The Alibi [4:00]
6. The Investigation [10:30]
7. The Purse [4:56]
8. A Visit [3:22]
9. The Confession [16:55]
10. The Accused [6:03]
11. Melissa Butler [5:47]
12. The Written Statement [13:04]
13. Final Arguments [11:54]
14. Verdict [2:18]
15. 45 Minutes Later [5:18]
16. 4 Months Later [:02]
17. Police Press Conference [1:05]
18. Epilogue [1:43]

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Murder on a Sunday Morning 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked how this documentary is a window into the courtroom and associated investigation by public defender. It reveals faulty police techniques and abuse. A must see. Watch all of the deleted scenes such as jury selection, public defenders wardrobe, etc - especially the defendant's father on the stand. The movie is not 'bloody' as the title might suggest to some. I have very high respect for the defendant, defendant's family, and all parties involved in defending him! I wish my local library had this for all to see!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brilliant viewing. People need to be made more aware of the corruption that lies in the world. Defence attorney was SUPERB !!! Makes you wonder what else the police have got away. That's why the whole JKF saga smells of inside job, corruption in high places. Only in America !!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is a must for people that hope to gain a greater understanding of criminal justice. It depicts a world where innocent people confess, police officers lie and justice is often considered inconvenient. To look at the basic details of the case might make you say guilty: young black kid shoots someone in robbery, positive ID against him by witness, later confesses to crime. HOWEVER, justice is deeper than what looks obvious and is spun by the District Attorney. To think that these so-called public servants almost put an innocent young man in prison for the rest of his life, well, it is disturbing. What is more disturbing, is the prospect that they didn't care.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its so wrong the husband did it and he says "i would never put an innocent man in jail" well its very well that he did.... gahhh i was sooo annoyed that the prosecutors and her husband would say stuff and then lie its like omg i cant even explain. I feel for the victims family i mean the trouble they must have had to go through. I liked it but it was soo nerve racking that someone would do this. I thought that racial segeration had depareted from this shore but apparantly not. From a Senior in a English class that is watching the film.!!!!!