Two attorneys meet with their death row client at one of America’s most notorious prisons and tell him he’s scheduled to die in the next month. After more than a decade of fighting for his innocence, the appeals have run out.
As they drive in silence across Louisiana to break the news to the inmate’s young son, one checks a voice mail.
There is an excited message from a private investigator, saying she’s found something big. The new evidence sets in place a series of events that eventually lead to his exoneration.
This true story of two Morgan, Lewis & Bockius attorneys, partners Michael Banks (pictured) and J. Gordon Cooney Jr., is packed with enough dramatic tension to fill a Hollywood screenplay.
Or so Disney believes.
Touchstone Pictures has made a deal for a film based on the Philadelphia attorneys’ 15-year pro bono crusade to overturn John Thompson’s murder conviction. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will star as the Morgan, Lewis duo.
In order to produce a movie depicting the events, Disney purchased the life story rights for the attorneys and Thompson, a common yet quirky legal transaction. Sellers — and the lawyers who represent them — must tie the often messy details of a life story into a neat legal bundle.
“We’re both flattered,” Cooney said. “We were primarily interested in generating money for John.”
The lawyers got connected with Disney through producing team Amanda Stern and Fred Bodner. Stern is a distant relative of Banks, and Cooney went to school with Bodner.