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March 08, 1993

Norman M. Garland's thoughtful Counterpunch warning against confusing TV docu-trials with reality is right on the mark ("HBO's Ray 'Trial' Confuses Entertainment With Reality," Feb. 22). But he's wrong in so labeling the upcoming HBO trial of James Earl Ray.

I served as HBO's legal adviser for the Ray trial. My instructions were simple: "Create the reality of a trial. Make absolutely no concessions to entertainment or sensationalism."

Pursuant to those instructions, we assembled the components of a trial, including Ray to testify and be cross-examined by satellite from prison; an experienced and well-respected prosecutor; Ray's longtime defense lawyer; a widely respected retired federal judge, Marvin Frankel, and an impartial jury selected by the opposing lawyers from voting roles in a Midwestern city.

The trial took place in a real courtroom in Memphis, Tenn. It unfolded pursuant to the rules of evidence and law of Tennessee. Each side presented entirely unscripted testimony that was subjected to intense unrehearsed cross-examination. The jury deliberated in private.

In short, absolutely no compromise to sensationalism or entertainment tainted the process.

BURT NEUBORNENew York University

School of Law

New York

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