Truth Has Fallen 

A Documentary by Sheila M. Sofian
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Eddie Baker has been in prison for 24 years convicted of a murder in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania in 1974. Centurion Ministries secured a confession from the real killer, as well as statements from eight witnesses who testified that Mr. Baker was attending a funeral when the crime occurred. A judge reversed Eddie’s conviction. The district attorney appealed. Hours away from freedom, the Philadelphia higher court stayed the appeal, forcing Eddie to return to prison for another two years. Eddie explains from jail how he has managed to forgive the man who identified him as the murderer (and later admitted to committing the murder himself) and his feelings about the justice system. He clings to his faith and his optimism that justice will prevail. He has since been released from prison and is writing a book about his experiences. Edward Baker's case on the National Registry of Exonerations.

Joyce Ann Brown was convicted of armed robbery and murder in Texas and received a life sentence. After serving nine years of her sentence, Centurion Ministries was able to find the real killer and prove her innocence in less than a year.

In 1993 Joyce founded Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems Inc. (MASS), a non-profit foundation providing a pathway for adults, families and children seeking a meaningful opportunity to become productive citizens. Joyce Ann Brown's case on the National Registry of Exonerations.

Jimmy Landano was falsely convicted in 1976 of an armed robbery and killing of a police officer in New Jersey. He spent 13 

years in prison before Centurion Ministries was able to overturn his conviction by uncovering evidence that the one witness against him identified the real killer from a photo. The prosecutors appealed the decision. James Landano won the appeal. He subsequently sued the state of New Jersey for damages. During the making of this film James Landano died of a heart attack without resolving his case.
James Landano's case on the National Registry of exonerations.

Film Description

Truth Has Fallen is a one-hour live action/animated documentary that follows the work of James McCloskey, whose mission is to free prisoners who have been wrongfully convicted of murder. 

Armed with funding from individuals, churches and foundations, James McCloskey founded Centurion Ministries in 1983.  With the help of volunteers and respected lawyers, he reinvestigates murder cases where a miscarriage of justice may have occurred. McCloskey has freed more than 25 people proven to be wrongfully accused. Utilizing a combination of painting-on-glass animation and dramatized live action, Truth Has Fallen explores the stories of three individuals freed by McCloskey’s work and sheds light on flaws in our justice system. 

Live action footage shot in a surrealist manner is juxtaposed against expressionistic animation to illustrate the testimony of Baker, Landano, and Brown. Gripping images of actors in a black void, hands on prison cell bars, and a row of manacled ankles in prison attire accompany the experts’ commentary. Tactile painted animation illustrates the exonerees’ personal stories. These seemingly opposing aesthetic approaches are woven together throughout the film. Images from prison, courtrooms and police interrogations melt into one another.

Truth Has Fallen brings to light the prison experiences of these wrongly convicted individuals, their courage in fighting for their innocence, and James McCloskey’s unwavering support and resources. The film’s broader perspective reports the positive shift in criminal justice legislation over the past 15 years, as policymakers recognize critical flaws in the system and begin to enact commonsense reforms.

Among the lawyers providing expert testimony are Barry Scheck and Vincent Bugliosi.  Barry Scheck co-founded and directs the Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He explains the problems with eyewitness testimony and describes an alternative approach that could reduce wrongful identifications dramatically. Mr. Scheck praises the benefits of DNA testing but also notes that DNA evidence is only available in rape/murder cases, and the expense involved makes it unaffordable for most people (defendants).

Vincent Bugliosi has had a distinguished career as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office including the prosecution of Charles Manson. He explains the lack of resources available to the public defender’s office compared to that of the district attorney. He admits to being disturbed by the number of innocent people on death row. He states, “No responsible lawyer or prosecutor in this country is going to come out at this point strongly in favor of continuing executing people until we resolve this issue.”

Other experts featured in the film include criminologist Dr. Sheila Balkan, Justin Brooks, Project Director of the California Innocence Project, California Western School of Law, Marjorie Cohn, Associate Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Julius Debro, Professor of Criminology, University of Washington, and Professor William J. Aceves, Director of International Legal Studies Program, California Western School of Law.

Truth Has Fallen hopes to inspire discussions on the US justice system and wrongful convictions. Adding a voice to the Innocence Projects around the United States, Truth Has Fallen advocates for relatively simple changes in our legal system in order to reduce the rate of wrongful convictions.

Background:Centurion Ministries

Centurion Ministries is a non-profit organization headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey with a full-time paid staff of five employees, including an investigator in Seattle. Founded in 1983, Centurion Ministries has a national network of attorneys and forensic experts who ably assist them in their work on behalf of the convicted innocent throughout the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, they have dedicated and loyal volunteers from the Princeton community who help them identify and develop prospective cases for the future. 

The primary mission of Centurion Ministries is to vindicate and free from prison those who are completely innocent of the crimes for which they have been unjustly convicted and imprisoned for life or death. They also assist their clients, once they are freed, with reintegration into society on a self-reliant basis. 

In achieving the objectives of their work, Centurion Ministries performs the following functions: Conducts a thorough investigation in order to develop the new evidence required to overturn a false conviction. Retains and works hand in hand with the best attorneys in the region who work tirelessly with Centurion Ministries to obtain judicial relief for their beneficiaries. Raises and disburses whatever funds are required to meet all investigative, legal, and administrative costs necessary for the successful completion of their work, and serves as a center for North America’s convicted innocent who petition Centurion Ministries’ assistance.

MASS Mothers (Fathers) For the Advancement of Social Systems Inc.

In 1993, Joyce Ann Brown founded Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems Inc. (MASS) which supports innocent inmates falsely accused and incarcerated within the U.S. Criminal Justice System.

The organization is a non-profit foundation providing a pathway for adults, families and children seeking a meaningful opportunity to become productive citizens. 

The group has helped people being released from prison readjust to life without bars and providing support for the children and families of adult offenders at high risk for substance abuse, medical or emotional disorders and poverty.

The Innocence Project

The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.