RUBIN "HURRICANE" CARTER
As a top-ranked prizefighter, Rubin Carter had a thundering left hook that earned him the nickname "Hurricane".
One fight away from becoming the Middleweight Champion of the World, he lost everything. In 1996, he was put on trial for murder even thought he had no motive, didn't match the killers' description, was cleared of being the attacker by two of the victims, and passed a lie detector test.
Carter was convicted and sentenced to life. For 20 years he rotted
in jail, fighting for his freedom and struggling to clear his name.
He wrote a book about his imprisonment and wrongful conviction -
The Sixteenth Round: From Number One Contender to Number 45472.
He mailed a copy of his book to Bob Dylan who visited him in prison
and wrote a song entitled, "Hurricane" about his case.
In 1976 the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial because the state witness had committed perjury and vital evidence had been withheld from the defense.
At the second trial, the State's principal witness, after telling numerous different versions of the events in question (none of which implicated Rubin Carter and co-defendant John Artis as the gunmen), recanted his recantation, and Carter was again convicted.
Carter languished in prison until 1985 when, working closely with
Professor Leon Friedman and Myron Beldock, New York attorneys who
donated their services. He finally had the opportunity to present
his claims to a federal court. The U.S. District Court ruled that
Carter's conviction had been based on "Racism rather than disclosure
and concealment rather than disclosure". A writ of Habeas Corpus
was granted, and Rubin Carter exploded into the headlines again
on November 8, 1985 when he was freed at last.
Mr. Carter now makes his home in Toronto, Ontario. An articulate and charismatic speaker, Mr. Carter lectures frequently at Bar Associations, Universities, Law Schools, High schools, and libraries across the world on such diverse issues as literacy and education, wrongful convictions, and the death penalty. He has testified before the United States Congress on the need for preserving federal review of State court convictions. He is on the Board of Directors of the Southern Center for Human Rights (Atlanta) and the Alliance for Prison Justice (Boston), and serves as the Executive Director of the Toronto-Based Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, a group dedicated to championing the cases of prisoners who have been wrongly imprisoned. He has spoken at the United Nations.
Mr. Carter was awarded the WBC World Championship belt by the World Boxing Council at its 30th annual convention for not only being a survivor in the ring but more importantly a survivor of life. On April 6, 2000 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto he was presented with the World Boxing Association belt.
| Harvard Law
School | Contact
Last updated April 16, 2002