The Thin Blue Line Rough Draft 4 November 2013 Lying to find the “truth” The Thin Blue Line documentary by Errol Morris provides reenactments and investigation interviews of a late November homicide of a Dallas, Texas police officer, Robert Wood. This murder was at the hands of a troubled 16 year old, David Harris, who shot a man from inside a stolen Mercury Comet with a stolen . 22 pistol. Randall Adams, innocent, and wrongly accused of being in the passenger seat of Harris’ stolen car, was blamed as the killer of police officer Robert Wood on the late
November evening in Dallas, Texas. Young and afraid, David Harris claims Randall Adams is the gunman who shot down Robert Wood in Dallas, consequently many of the case’s investigators accept such a conviction due to the need for a “wrap up” of the case; furthermore the DA, in effort to keep his perfect win record by convicting Adams, and his desire for the death penalty compliments well to the lie that Randall Adams was the murderer because Randall Adams, age twenty-eight, made him the perfect scapegoat for the death penalty. David Harris has a criminal background when meeting Randall Adams.
Harris says to screenplay writer Errol Morris, “Criminal always lie”, being the reason David Harris blames the murder on innocent Randall Adams. Throughout the film David Harris is correctly portrayed as being a troubled kid throughout his life. David Harris lands himself in and out of Jail and even ends up attacking his superior officers in the military. His troubled, criminal life plainly relates to his immaturity. An immature 16 year old likes to blame others for their mistakes and get out of trouble, being exactly what David Harris did. Harris even did it to a friend of his, Randall Adams.
Errol Morris and David Harris have the following conversation: Errol Morris: Were you surprised when the police blamed [Randall Adams]? David Harris: They didnt blame [Randall Adams]. I did. A scared sixteen year old kid. He would sure like to get out of it if he can. This only goes to show that David Harris blamed and admitted to blaming Randall Adams, being one of the reasons Randall Adams was pinned for the murder of police officer Robert Wood. The investigators easily accepted David Harris’ conviction that Randall Adams killed Wood due to the longevity of the investigation.
As Gus Rose puts it, “We’d never really gone that long in Dallas without clearing the murder of a police officer… the case had gone a month, or nearly a month and we still hadn’t cleared it. ” Due to the investigators urgency for the case to be wrapped up they all fell to the hands of groupthink. Stephanie Ericsson in “The Ways We Lie” explains groupthink, “as a psychological phenomenon within decision-making groups in which loyalty to the group has become more important than any other value, with the result that dissent nd the appraisal of alternatives are suppressed” (164).
An example of this happening in the investigation is when the investigators incorrectly label Adams’ statement of what happened the night of Robert Woods’ murder. Adams’ explains, “l tell them what happened this Saturday… ‘ read through it, and when it was basically what I liked, yes, I signed it… The Morning News in Dallas County stated that… ‘ confessed to the killing of Robert Wood… that they had their killer and they were ready to go with it. The statement that I signed for Dallas County was never… a confession’ quote, but yet, they labeled is as such”.
The investigators group thinking to finish the investigation caused them to be loyal to themselves (rushing the case), instead of being moral and understanding the case. They took Adams’ simple statement of what happened Saturday night and posed it as a homicide confession. This is a dramatic change, which brought down Adams’ potential to go home without Jail time and ride off of serious convictions. The investigators all wanted to push through the insufficient information that they had and they went by any means to do it.
Again, as Stephanie Ericsson states ” alternatives are suppressed” in groupthink, it is obvious that the investigators suppressed the alternative that David Harris was the person who killed the police officer and not Randall Adams. On another point, Doug Mulder, the district attorney in the case had a perfect win record throughout his career and was not about to resign with a tarnished reputation. Mulder strongly believed that Randall Adams was the murderer because all the evidence given in the case falsely pointed to Randall Adams as the murderer.
Defense attorney for Randall Adams, Edith Adams says, “… Mulder [always said… ] how wonderful it was that he was getting all these convictions. ” Mulder had too much pride over the span of his career to let this one case make him look bad. In an effort to secure himself as the district attorney, Doug Mulder trash talked Edith Adams’ partner, Dennis White. Dennis White goes on to say, “Well, I immediately began to suspect from the time I was close to Vidor that I was being followed and observed. Doug Mulder… had told the people of Vidor that I was a… astern educated civil iberties attorney, and that I was down there to discredit David Harris”. Mulder gave every effort to attack Randall Adams and those who defended him, only in an effort to secure himself in order to have a flawless looking career record. Along with favoring a perfect win record, Mulder also favored the death penalty. Doug Mulder, being a district attorney in Texas tavored the death penalty and gave it to anyone that he could give it to. The major fact that David Harris was a 16 year old presented the idea that Randall Adams was the murderer because Adams was 28 nd could be sentenced to death.
This played a major role in why Randall Adams was convicted for the murder and was thrown on death row. Edith James explains, “They had a twenty-eight year old man. The only alternative was to be prosecuting a sixteen year old that could not be given the death penalty under Texas Law, where our twenty-eight year old man could. That’s always been the predominant motive… for having a death penalty case against Randall Adams… he was a convenient age”. Edith James, being Adams’ defense attorney, had no problem pointing out the eceitful actions of Doug Mulder throughout the case.
As James says, Adams was at a very convenient age which made it easy for Mulder to prosecute Randall Adams, placing him on death row. All things considered, Randall Adams was placed on death row by the Texas law enforcement for a multitude of bad luck. David Harris was a perfidious liar, the investigators were running out of time and needed to end the case, and Doug Mulder’s lack of integrity in order to maintain that perfect record of his and conveniently pin Randall Adams as the murderer all brought Randall Adams to a evel that was inescapable.