26-Year Secret Kept Innocent Man In Prison

Lawyers Tell 60 Minutes They Were Legally Bound From Revealing Secret

"What did you do to see if there might be some loophole to get everyone out of this fix?" Simon asked the attorneys.

"I researched the ethics of attorney-client privilege as much as I could. I contacted people who are involved in making those determinations. I know Jamie did the same thing," Coventry said.

"I could not figure out a way, and still cannot figure out a way, how we could have done anything to help Alton Logan that would not have put Andrew Wilson in jeopardy of another capital case," Kunz added.

"Couldn't you have leaked it to somebody? To a reporter, to an administrator, to the governor, to somebody?" Simon asked.

"The only thing we could have leaked is that Andrew Wilson confessed to us. And how could we leak that to anybody without putting him in jeopardy?" Kunz replied. "It may cause us to lose some sleep. But, but I lose more sleep if I put Andrew Wilson's neck in the in the noose."

"He was guilty and Logan was not. So, yes his head should be in the noose. And Logan should go free. It's perfectly obvious to somebody who isn't a lawyer," Simon pointed out. "Andrew Wilson was guilty, was he not?"

"Yes. And that's up to the system to decide. It's not up to me as his lawyer to decide that he was guilty and so he should be punished and Logan should go free," Kunz said.

"Do you think you might have been disbarred for doing that, for violating attorney-client privilege?" Simon asked.

"I don't think I considered that as much as I considered my responsibility to my client. I was very concerned to protect him," Coventry explained.

"But here is a case where two men, you two were caught up in this bind. And chose to let a man rot away in jail," Simon remarked.

"It seems that way. But had we come forward right away, aside from violating our own client's privilege, and putting him in jeopardy, would the information that we had have been valued? Would it have proved anything?" Coventry replied.

Probably not, they say, because as a violation of attorney-client privilege, it would never have been allowed in court. They insist that for them, there was no way out.

"In terms of my conscience, my conscience is that I did the right thing. Do I feel bad about Logan? Absolutely I feel bad about Logan," Coventry admitted.

The attorneys say they were so tormented over Logan's imprisonment that they convinced Wilson to let them reveal that Wilson was the real killer after Wilson's death. Late last year, Wilson died. The two attorneys finally took their affidavit out of the lockbox, and they called Logan's lawyer, pubic defender Harold Winston.

Winston had already been trying to get Logan a new trial. He'd found two eyewitnesses who swore Logan was not the killer. Now, with Kunz and Coventry's affidavit, he thinks Logan will finally go free.

"I know the attorney general's office of Illinois is considering this. And I have a lot of respect for that office," Winston said. "And I'm hoping they will come to the right conclusion, that a mistake has been made. And if they do that, he would go free."

And even though Winston represents Alton Logan, he agrees the two attorneys had to remain silent until Wilson died. "I wish there had been a way this could have come out earlier. Under the…Illinois ethics code, I think the only way would have been if Andrew Wilson had released his lawyers earlier," he explained.

"There may be other attorneys who have similar secrets that they're keeping. I don't wanna be too defensive but what makes this case so different, is that Dale and I came forward. And that Dale had the good sense to talk to Wilson before his death. And get his permission. 'If you die, can we talk?' Without that, we wouldn't be here today," Kunz said.

  • CBSNews

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