an ordinary crime
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press reaction

The Boston Globe - Mark Jurkowitz

"Posing simple, straightforward interview questions in her thick Israeli accent, Ofra Bikel methodically pieces together another numbing miscarriage of justice. ...

What makes 'An Ordinary Crime' so powerful is its very ordinariness, the convergence of routine factors -- bad police work, a confident judge, a traumatized victim, and the vagaries of human nature -- that combine to destroy an innocent life. ...

What makes 'An Ordinary Crime' so riveting is the way Bikel draws out the moral complexity in almost every character. Judge Knox V. Jenkins comes across as an amiable country judge, but he seems determined to make an example of Garner. Henderson, a hard-edged criminal, finds that his conscience won't permit him to stay quiet -- even on the advice of his lawyer -- about Garner's innocence. Conversely, Riddick, who seems smart and likable, accepts a plea-bargaining arrangement forcing him to be complicit in Garner's railroading. And then there's Alice Wise, that badly injured shooting victim, who is desperately insistent that Garner is the one who changed her life forever. ..."

Entertainment Weekly - Ken Tucker

"...This Frontline is as tense as any thriller--complete with bullied suspects, shady plea bargains, and a smiling hanging judge. a meticulously calm, ferociously dogged reporter. When Bikel comes a-knockin', wise people (of whom she encounters few) head for the hills; Bikel pries open, as if they were weak-willed clams, misstatements, half-truths, stupidity, an' lies. All these elements seem patent in 'An Ordinary Crime' and as sure as 'CSI' to deserves a best-drama Emmy, so this documentary ought to help set a real-life person free. A-"

TV Guide  Susan Stewart

"...This sounds more like an episode of 'The Practice' than a true story. But it appears to have happened in North Carolina in 1997, when a black man named Terence was arrested for [attempted] murder, while a black man named Terrance went free. 'An Ordinary Crime' tells the outrageous important story of injustice, but that doesn't make it exciting television. It's all talking heads and guys with the same name."

Sacramento Bee  Rick Kushman

"At first glance, 'An Ordinary Crime' on Frontline lives up to its title. It looks like just another dreary tale of greed, guns, and violence.

Documentary filmmaker Ofra Bikel digs beneath the surface of this mundane event to reveal an astounding story of complacency, corruption and what might be injustice..."

The Charlotte Observer  Editorial

"If you watched 'An Ordinary Crime,' public television's Frontline program Thursday night, you might be feeling a little uncomfortable when it comes to the criminal justice system in North Carolina.

You might, in fact, be persuaded that authorities are acquiescing in a miscarriage of justice in the case of [Terence] Garner, convicted and sent away to prison for 32 to 43 years. It now appears to have been a case of mistaken identity. Even worse, it appears that authorities want no part in re-examining the facts. That's not just troubling, it's alarming...

...It is time for investigators to take a fresh look, sort through the confusion and clear the air. Perhaps after the PBS documentary gives the case more exposure, law enforcement officials will reconsider. Justice demands another look. The reason in simple: If the wrong person is behind bars, not only is an innocent man being punished, but a guilty man is going free."

TV Barn  Steve Rhodes

"...[A] gripping Kafkaesque story that will both astonish and anger you. It becomes clear an innocent man has been in prison since 1997 when he was only 16, an innocent man who is not scheduled to be released for at least another 30 years. And if this case could go so wrong, this raises larger questions about our criminal justice system...

...In the past, Bikel's award winning documentaries have contributed to freeing their subjects. Hopefully, 'An Ordinary Crime' will help free [Terence Garner]."

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