Gerry Spence is back in the courtroom, trying a civil rights case against two Pottawatamie County police investigators who were responsible for the wrongful convictions of Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee for the murder of a retired police officer. According to the plaintiffs, detectives Dan Larsen and Lyle Brown manufactured false evidence against them, while ignoring and hiding evidence of another suspect in the crime. Harrington and McGhee spent 25 years in prison before evidence of their innocence was uncovered and their cases were dismissed.
“The evidence will show these cops betrayed law and order, betrayed the oath they took as police officers and they betrayed their duty to protect us all,” Harrington’s attorney, Gerry Spence, told jurors during opening statements Thursday. “If they can do it to the least of us they can do it to anybody.”
The case against Harrington and McGee’s prosecutors was previously settled for a combined amount of $12 million, while the case was pending in the United States Supreme Court.
There is no amount of money that will repay these men for the loss they suffered – 25 years of their lives stolen from them and from their families; but there is no other way to stop the sort of thing that happened in this case. The police won’t be prosecuted. The prosecutors won’t be prosecuted. They won’t be disciplined or censured even. The convictions were overturned, but not until 25 years had been lost. There is nothing left but recourse to the tort system, to serve as a deterrent against this kind of conduct by those in power.