Netflix has teamed up with bestselling legal drama novelist John Grisham for the streaming giant’s next true-crime documentary series offering, The Innocent Man. The series will serve as an adaption of Grisham’s 2006 nonfiction book of the same name that – akin to Netflix’s pop culture proliferating true-crime series Making a Murderer – chronicles the legal ordeal of a man who, purportedly, was wrongfully accused of murder and, in this case, faced execution.
The Innocent Man will arrive on Netflix as a 6-part documentary series on December 14. The series is directed by Clay Tweel (Out of Omaha, Gleason, Finders Keepers), who developed the series with Ross Dinerstein. The series depicts the ordeal of Ron Williamson, an Ada, Oklahoma man whose failure to land in the Majors lead to a spiral of self-destruction involving drugs, alcohol and meaningless encounters. However, in 1982, the lifestyle left Williamson as the prime suspect in the brutal murder of young cocktail waitress Debra Sue Carter. The ensuing investigation would become a suspicious process filled with flimsy evidence and dishonest witnesses, leading to a rushed conviction yielding the death penalty.
The Innocent Man Trailer
The Innocent Man trailer has arrived, showcasing a documentary style that – as expected – resembles the presentation of Making a Murderer, weaving a tale of a shady investigation tainted with improper procedures conducted by local police motivated by the glory of a quick close the case.
Of course, unlike Making a Murderer, which – arguably – lays out both sides of its scenario, The Innocent Man, based on John Grisham’s non-fiction book, is, by its very title, designed to present the case for innocence. Indeed, at the risk of “spoiling” real-life, the show’s argument was ultimately validated by the exoneration of the accused, Ron Williamson, in 1999 after spending 11 years on death row, which would be followed by a hefty lawsuit. However, that is not to say that the series won’t inspire the same kind of innocent-or-guilty debates.
The Innocent Man Release Date
The Innocent Man arrives on Netflix on December 14.
The Innocent Man Details
Tapping into the same docuseries vein as Making a Murderer, Netflix’s The Innocent Man combines archival video and photos with new footage and interviews with the friends and families close to case, as well as journalists and someone who was involved in Williamson’s appeals process in Innocence Project co-founder (and famous O.J. Simpson defense team member) Barry Scheck. Additionally, Grisham himself appears onscreen in interviews.
As director Tweel expressed in the announcing statement:
“As a filmmaker, I often find that the best stories are the ones we tell ourselves. But what surprised me was the extent to which that idea also permeates the criminal justice system. By re-examining these old cases, I hope that viewers will identify the biases involved, even their own.”
As Grisham also lauded:
“The documentary series of The Innocent Man is gripping, compelling and ultimately just as heartbreaking as the book. Though I know the story well, I can’t wait to watch it again.”
Tweel, Dinerstein and Grisham serve as executive producers on The Innocent Man, joined by producers Maura Anderson and Shannon Riggs.