Today, Jarret Adams is a criminal defense lawyer. He worked for the New York Innocence Project for some time, and in 2017, he opened his own firm. But did you know what motivated Jarrett Adams to pursue law in the first place?
Jarrett Adams was 17-years-old when he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced for a crime he did not commit. He read up on the law and proved his innocence. Today, he dedicates his life to helping others who face the same injustice.
What Was Jarrett Adams Convicted For?
Jarret Adams was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated high school in 1998 at the age of 17. One summer night, Adams snuck out with a couple of friends to attend a party at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Little did he know how much his life would change after that night.
Three weeks after the said party, Adams found a police officer’s calling card by his doorstep. Apparently, a girl at the party he went to claimed that Adams and his two friends had raped her. Even if there were witnesses that contradicted the accuser’s statements, Adams and his buddies were charged and arrested for sexual assault.
We were totally innocent. That was an absolute and total lie. I realized very quickly early on it had nothing to do with the truth, it was about race. It was about who was accusing me and how the accused looked. We were all Black and we were accused by a White girl of rape, so no matter what we said we were never going to be believed. Never.Jarrett Adams
At the time of the case, Adams and his friends were still minors. However, they were tried as adults. One of Adam’s friends hired a lawyer while he and the other co-defendant were assigned public defenders.
We all initially went to trial together and the trial ended with a mistrial. It ended with a mistrial because the testimony of our accuser dramatically changed.Jarrett Adams
What Happened After the Mistrial?
Adams’ friend’s lawyer filed for a dismissal based on the grounds of double jeopardy. This meant that the court could not try him for the same crime twice in a row. However, the public defendants of Adams and the other friend did not file the same motion.
The public defender called for a no defense theory during the retrial, which eventually backfired and led to the 28-year prison sentence. While Adams’ friend, who had a private lawyer, never spent a second in prison.
They completely committed to a strategy that was illogical, and it resulted in me being found guilty and me being sentenced to serve 28 years in a maximum-security prison. That decision not to join in that motion cost me almost a decade in my life. We’re talking about the same case, being accused by the same person, and the difference was having an adequate defense. When you want to talk about the flaws and the problems wrong with the criminal justice system, that’s a direct example right there.Jarret Adams
What Motivated Jarrett Adams to Fight Back?
After being in prison for over a year, Adams had a conversation with a cellmate that motivated him to hit the law library and get a better grasp of the law.
Look, you get up every day and you get out here and you play chess, you play basketball and you don’t act like you’re innocent. Innocent people, they’re in the law library,Adams’ Cellmate
When Was Jarrett Adams Released?
Jarrett Adams was released after eight years. In 2004, the Innocence Project took his case and decided to help him. He was released in 2007, they argued on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.
In less than 10 minutes, the motion was filed, the judge threw down her gavel and I was gone and released out of the courtroom.That judge never looked me in my eyes at all. When I walked out of that courtroom, I said, ‘You might not look at me now, but you’re going to have to see me for the rest of your life.’Jarrett Adams