Manhattan attorney Barry Clark has spent a decade working to clear the name of Eddie Lowery.
For Clark, a Kansas University School of Law graduate, it was a cherished opportunity for a defense lawyer.
“It’s a rare thing,” said Clark, who calls the moment in 2003 when Lowery was officially exonerated the “high water mark” of his career. “It’s the most significant case I’ll ever see.”
With the assistance of the New York-based Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that helps to exonerate the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing, Clark helped Lowery obtain the testing that proved he didn’t commit the 1981 rape of an elderly Ogden woman. Lowery was the 125th person in the United States to be exonerated through DNA testing. That number is now more than 240.
Lowery was referred to Clark in 2000, and said he knew from the beginning that Clark would help him.
“He believed me; he trusted me,” Lowery said.
And Clark knew Lowery was innocent the first time they spoke.
“I just knew he didn’t do it,” Clark said. “It wasn’t possible.”
Clark said his work with Lowery shows that mistakes do happen in the American criminal justice system.
“It works well, but like any system, it’s not perfect,” said Clark, who advocates for standard videotaping of suspect interviews.
The interrogation of Lowery by Manhattan, Kan., police was not taped, something that may have helped Lowery’s initial defense.
In cases of false confessions, the recording can give more insight into the circumstances of the interview, Clark said. For instance, Lowery was denied an attorney and continually threatened by police during his confession. Clark said he hopes that Lowery’s story can help spur changes in the system.
With the emotional ups and downs during the past 10 years working on Lowery’s case, Clark said the two have formed a close bond that transcends professional obligations.
“He’s one of my best buds,” Clark said. “He’s not a client; he’s a friend.”