Photo of Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman by Jim McGuireAbu-Ali Abdur’Rahman needed a really good lawyer. Prosecutors claimed to have a mountain of physical evidence and powerful eyewitness testimony against him in a murder case. And they were seeking the death penalty.Cellmates at the Nashville jail where Abdur’Rahman was being held told him there was only one lawyer to call: Lionel Barrett.Barrett, they said, never turned down a client in need, no matter how controversial the case was, how bad the facts were and how impossible the defense seemed.“I never said no,” Barrett confirms. “I took cases no one else would. Everyone deserves representation.”But in 1987, Barrett should have said no. Because he didn’t, Abdur’Rahman’s life now hangs in the balance.“It was the perfect storm,” Barrett says, looking back on the case some 24 years later. “Everything I could have done wrong, I did.”Now Barrett is pleading for forgiveness from his former client and apologizing to his colleagues in the bar. The case, he says, is “a daily burden” and was one of the key factors that drove him from law practice a decade ago.“It is every lawyer’s nightmare to have a case like this in their life, a case they screwed up… Read full this story
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