Missouri State Penitentiary, known as “The Walls,” was built in 1836 and was the oldest prison west of the Mississippi River before it was condemned and closed permanently in 2004. In 1963, Time Magazine called “The Walls” the bloodiest 47 acres in America when a series of violent assaults made national headlines. It has been reported that between the years of 1963 and 1964, there were around 550 separate accounts of serious assaults, including hundreds of stabbings. It was “home” to infamous convicts like Stagger Lee, Pretty Boy Floyd, Sonny Liston and James Earl Ray. And it became home – for five long years – to a wrongfully convicted man named Ted White Jr.
Wrongful convictions occur every month, in every state in this country, and the reasons are all varied and all the same: bad police work, junk science, faulty eyewitness identifications, bad defense lawyers, lazy prosecutors, arrogant prosecutors. Our criminal justice system is supposed to err on the side of innocence, sifting the clearly guilty from those less obviously culpable. Imprisoning – or condemning – the innocent exposes a host of procedural defects in our criminal justice system. Justice must be our eternal aspiration, but we should greet skeptically those who ever claim it’s been fully achieved.
Ted White’s story is not a work of lofty philosophy or jurisprudence. It is his humble first-person story told in everyday terms: of how injustice happened, one blunder at a time, a nightmarish story of being imprisoned for something he did not do. No one knows better than the person wrongfully imprisoned how unjust his situation is. Even devoted loved ones and dedicated lawyers can never have the same certainty as Ted White, who knew absolutely he was not guilty! And in the end, Ted White’s account is an eyewitness testimony to the epitome of human isolation: wronged, separated from society and loved ones, and trapped in an existence defined by what Ted alone knows without a doubt to be a lie.
The Insider Exclusive presents a true story, a story of final justice: The Exoneration Of Ted White Jr. It’s a testament to his resilience, his family and his lawyers, Brian McCallister and Cyndy Short of the McCallister Law Firm, who helped him escape the prison cell where he did not belong. Ted’s story is a reminder that freedom is not merely a matter of confinement, but also the chance to dwell with the truth.
Brian F. McCallister is the founder and owner of The McCallister Law Firm, P.C. Since founding the law firm in 1996, Brian has dedicated his professional life to the representation of individuals and families in cases involving catastrophic injury or death resulting from dangerous products, semi tractor-trailer crashes, automobile crashes and medical malpractice. Having grown up as a minister’s son and grandson, Brian saw countless examples of his family’s sacrifice for and service to others. This is the foundation on which his professional life of service to others is built. In every case, Brian seeks out close personal relationships with his clients and their families, giving him the ability to advocate for his clients powerfully, persuasively and passionately. His avocation is singing and he is often asked to sing solos for special occasions involving his clients and their families.
Cyndy Short was toiling away in a small labor law firm when she was appointed to represent a young poor woman accused by the federal government of attempting to assassinate Jesse Jackson during his 1988 presidential campaign. This experience changed the course of her practice, and she dedicated most of the next 15 years of her career to the representation of poor people as a public defender in Kansas City( first in the trial division, then in the capital litigation division where she served as head of that office for nearly a decade). Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. She received the Lon O. Hocker Memorial Trial Lawyer Award in 1997, given annually by the Missouri Bar in recognition of outstanding trial work. She also received the Defender of Distinction Award in 1998 for her dedication to representing poor people charged with serious crimes. That is the highest honor given by the Missouri State Public Defender. The Western Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty recognized her work on the Dick Dexter case with their Courageous Litigator Award. She also graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers’ College in 1994. Since 1997, she has been a TLC faculty member trains lawyers and judges around the country. Numerous people owe their freedom and their lives to Cyndy’s dedication, compassion, personal sacrifice, and skill as a trial lawyer.
The McCallister Law Firm is comprised of a team of lawyers who provide each client with professional counsel and personal attention. The firm’s attorneys actually mean it when they say they care about each of their clients. These lawyers are strong advocates for people both in and out of the courtroom. Behind each case the firm agrees to take on is a story and a person. Since 1996, when the firm was established, these attorneys have put their clients first. By carefully selecting each case, the firm’s lawyers can represent clients that they truly believe in. An important part of a lawyer’s job is not just representing clients in court, but also developing a personal connection with them. And the attorneys at the McCallister Law Firm develop relationships with clients that last well beyond of a case. The firm is available whenever a former client has a legal concern.
You can contact Brian McCallister and Cyndy Short at 816-931-2229, or www.mccallisterlawfirm.com