'Reasonable Doubt' investigates potential for wrongful convictions
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Investigation Discovery's new show Reasonable Doubt casts light on these injustices one case at a time.
The show follows retired Homicide Detective Chris Anderson and Criminal Defense Attorney Melissa Lewkowicz as they re-investigate murder cases on behalf of those convicted. They meet with families of the incarcerated and hear their pleas for justice. They sort through the case by interviewing witnesses and the convicted criminal before recommending whether an appeal is worthwhile. While most of the public gets their legal knowledge from “cop dramas,” there is so much more to the legal world than we know.
“I've been working in the trenches for over ten years,” Lewkowicz told me. “My home away from home is the court and the jails beneath those courts. I've personally witnessed an astounding number of grave injustices. I've borne witness to the pain that those injustices cause the silent victims of every criminal case and those silent victims in most cases are the family members of those convicted who also have a story. As a criminal defense attorney, it's their story I get to hear, their pain I feel. And make no mistake, their pain is very real and that's why I agreed to do this project. That is what the groundbreaking show taps into, the very real pain that I experience defending the accused and their families on a daily basis.”
Hope is ever present for Anderson and Lewkowicz. The emotion is real and it's raw. It's often ugly, but it's also the truth.
“In every single one of these stories there are the family's stories,” Lewkowicz said. “Families reaching out to Chris and I as their last hope. They are literally begging us to help them get their side of the story out. Get their side heard. This is their untold story. These people are coming to us and they truly believe in the innocence of their child, brother, sister, mother, son. And they're desperately speaking on their behalf so the show goes beyond helping free the wrongly convicted. This is about freeing those mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. This is about giving them a chance to speak and make peace with this horrific tragedy that's affected their lives. Which, should in no way minimize the victim's families pain. As I see it, when there's been a taking of life there's enough pain to go around.”
That's not to say that the cases don't take a toll or offer a lesson to the investigators themselves. Lewkowicz added, “In every one of these cases it's a wild ride for all of us because we come in as independent investigators so we're really there to find the truth. We're not there to find innocence or guilt. We're there to find the truth. What really happened here? And as we delve into the information that we're given we also are investigating new things. We're out there on the field and we're catching things that are tangible, palpable to us. We're feeling everything out there. We literally find ourselves standing there in the middle of a scene where that person once stood and this crime once took place and you find yourself very involved in it; you're in the throes of it, you're in the thick of things. We're really going through that roller coaster ride with the viewers. We see both sides until the very end when we really find the evidence that we need...”
So what can the public do to help fight the injustices in the world? “The public can listen,” Lewkowicz said. “The public can watch. The public can be outraged. The public can do what they've been doing and that's promoting justice by exposing the truth. One person, one by one. Every single tweet, every single response, every single initiative could motivate somebody in a different position to look at this case...”
Reasonable Doubt isn't like other television shows out there. It's real television, it's real people's lives at stake, and it's real heart and soul being put into finding the truth. “We're taking this very seriously,” she said. “It's more than a TV show. It's a chance to effect change.”