John Anderson’s story in today’s New York Times explores the ethical issues involved in the relationship between documentary filmmakers and their subjects. Great topic. Too bad that Mr. Anderson, who wrote at length about Capturing the Friedmans, did not actually research the court file in the case. He would have found this remarkable letter from Sam Israel, Jesse Friedman’s personal lawyer at the time, accusing Andrew Jarecki of the same kind of coercion and manipulation that Jarecki attributes to law enforcement in the underlying case. Mr. Anderson might also have found this description of an e-mail from Andrew Jarecki, telling Jesse Friedman’s lawyer at the time: “I’m not going to give you access to materials now. Wait. Wait for the press to build up a little more.” (Hearing, October 3, 2007, p.10)
Jesse Friedman’s recent loss in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was based on the statute of limitations. Accordingly, there is a good argument that his appeal was doomed by how Andrew Jarecki exploited the matter. Not that Friedman would ever have won on the merits anyway. See, Critiquing “Capturing the Friedmans.”
The Republican candidate for Attorney General in Minnesota this year was R. Christopher Barden, a lawyer and psychologist who has played a prominent role in numerous cases challenging the existence of recovered memories of abuse. Barden has argued that recovered-memory testimony should be rejected as unreliable even in cases where there is corroboration. One example of this extreme position was the Quattrochi case in Rhode Island—a case so strong that it is contained in the archive on this web site (Legal Cases, No. 24).
Barden, who lived in Utah for years, moved to Minnesota recently and obtained the Republican nomination for Attorney General as a virtual unknown. He launched a strong attack against incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson, challenging her ethics and accusing her of corruption. One newspaper described Barden’s charges as “over the top”; another noted that he “offered no significant proof” for his claims. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune concluded that Barden is “clearly an ideologue.”
In a year when incumbents were at a strong disadvantage and Republicans had momentum across the country, Christopher Barden was nevertheless soundly defeated, losing by more than 200,000 votes. Minnesotans apparently have the common sense to identify and reject extremism and over-zealousness.