Law in Popular Culture

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to Portray Morgan Lewis Lawyers

  • Print.

Two partners from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who managed to win an acquittal on retrial for their death row client racked up another success this month in a related ruling by a federal appeals court.

Touchstone Pictures has signed a deal to produce a movie on the case, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Am Law Litigation Daily. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon would play the lawyers, Michael Banks and J. Gordon Cooney Jr.

Banks and Cooney won the acquittal for their pro bono client, death row inmate John Thompson, in 2003 after a “Perry Mason moment,” the Inquirer says. An investigator learned that a New Orleans prosecutor had failed to turn over blood evidence that would have exonerated Thompson in a previous case that resulted in his conviction for a carjacking.

Thompson didn’t testify at his murder trial because of fears the carjacking would be introduced to impeach his testimony. But the evidence was used in the death penalty phase.

After the lawyers won the retrial and acquittal, they sued the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office and won a $14 million judgment in 2007. On appeal, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals evenly split in an en banc ruling earlier this month, which had the effect of upholding the judgment, according to the Am Law Litigation Daily.

Cooney told the Inquirer if anyone had told him before the case began 21 years ago about the victories and the movie deal, “we would have laughed hysterically.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.