The Business of Writing > Laws about Writing

Wrongful Conviction Cases Expose'


On my To Do shelf is an investigative work series regarding several real life wrongful conviction cases, one of which is the homicide of Catherine Woods and the conviction of Paul Cortez - anyone with a functional IQ can see the NYPD screwed up and got the wrong guy and the entire court proceeding was a joke. Part of this investigative work will revisit the crime and suspects and attempt to provide a much more thorough recreation of the events and without directly pointing to the one there is actual evidence against, leave it open ended so the reader can draw his or her own conclusions. The point of this particular case though is to help raise awareness about the wrongful conviction (more can be found at freepaulcortez dot org).

I need to find the best way to present this without making it a work of fiction which could possibly confuse readers who won't know what is fact and what might be fictionalized...and without necessarily needing to obtain permission from those involved either way. I view that criteria based on the reality that people write true crime all the time, as well as media outlets who never ask permission from those involved when writing their drivel and nonsense week to week covering a case.

What would be the best way to approach a presentation so that the facts can be provided without any necessary liability (i.e. I know not to outright accuse anyone of anything, however the NYPD's actions in this case are clearly both corrupt and incompetent, as well as the defense and the "delicate reveal" isn't something I feel they deserve; the NYPD is notorious for its underhanded corruption all over the place anyway but that's a whole other work)...however, it is difficult to refrain from exposing the actions of the NYPD team involved in this particular case as anything less than scathing.

Is there a procedure to follow in naming names as being involved in the overall incident, quoting from trial records and interviews, etc without needing direct permission?

Any feedback on doing a true crime piece would be greatly helpful. Thanks!


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