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Judge dismisses Baltimore man’s lawsuit against “Homicide”-inspiring detectives over flawed 1980s murder conviction

May 23, 2014

Wendell GriffinU.S. District judge J. Frederick Motz on May 21 dismissed a civil-rights lawsuit brought last year by Wendell Griffin (pictured), who was freed in 2012 after more than three decades in prison for an improperly obtained murder conviction. Motz ruled that, since Griffin failed to seek to overturn his wrongful conviction earlier, and since his conviction still stands, his lawsuit fails.

Griffin sued three Baltimore homicide detectives—Jerry Landsman, Donald Kincaid, and Edward Brown—who illegally suppressed witness statements that contradicted their theory of the case that, in 1981, Griffin shot and killed James William “Lucky” Wise in Cherry Hill. Kincaid and Brown later became famous due to David Simon’s 1991 book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and Kincaid was the basis of Daniel Baldwin’s character, Det. Beau Felton, in the television show Homicide: Life on the Street.

Griffin’s attorney, Chad Curlett, says Motz’ ruling “essentially faults Mr. Griffin for not seeking to overturn his conviction sooner” even though “the record simply does not support that conclusion.” Curlett adds that Motz “relied on a Supreme Court decision that is no longer good law” in dismissing the case, “and we think the appellate courts will agree.  While justice eludes Mr. Griffin today, we intend to appeal.”

Photo credit: Van Smith