The Killing Yard
A courtroom drama about the aftermath of the 1971 riots at New York's Attica State Penitentiary, focusing on the story of Shango, an African-American inmate indicted for the murder of two white fellow prisoners during the revolt. Even though he'd been extremely ill, Ernie Goodman, one of America's most successful defense attorneys, accepted the challenging case tried in Buffalo in 1975. Goodman very reluctantly acquiesced to Shango's demand to be his own co-counsel. The defense attempted to discredit the prosecution's witnesses and strip away the layers of cover-up and deceit that the state had erected surrounding the deaths of the white inmates. Ernie enlisted the aid of Linda Borus, who served as chief defense investigator and galvanized a group of volunteers to perform the legwork and assist in the jury selection process. Arrayed against them were New York State's massive legal forces headed by Frank Cryan and Daniel Moynihan.
Ultimately, Shango was acquitted. All involved in the case knew that the trial's outcome would profoundly affect their lives and careers as well as many issues beyond the courtroom. Among them: the fate of New York State's other Attica inmate cases resulting from the 1971 riot; prison living conditions and prison reform efforts throughout the United States; and the perception that America's judicial system affords its citizens "equal justice before the law."