The film based on EJI Director Bryan Stevenson’s best-selling book, Just Mercy, filmed in Montgomery early this week.
Just Mercy presents the story of EJI, the people we represent, and the importance of confronting injustice. It tells the story of Walter McMillian, a Black man who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a young white woman who worked as a clerk in a dry clearing store in Monroeville, Alabama, after a trial that lasted only a day and a half. Three witnesses testified against Mr. McMillian and the jury ignored multiple alibi witnesses, who were Black, who testified that he was at a church fish fry at the time of the crime. The trial judge overrode the jury’s sentencing verdict for life and sentenced Mr. McMillian to death.
Bryan Stevenson took on the case and showed that the State’s witnesses had lied on the stand and the prosecution had illegally suppressed exculpatory evidence. Mr. McMillian’s conviction was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1993 and prosecutors agreed the case had been mishandled. Mr. McMillian was released in 1993 after spending six years on death row for a crime he did not commit.
Michael B. Jordan is starring in the film as Bryan Stevenson. During a break in filming on Monday, the Black Panther star stopped by Montgomery’s Valiant Cross Academy, where students were doing jumping jacks in the afternoon heat in their school uniforms. Mr. Jordan posted on Instagram that the “sight of them inspires me & reminds me why I do what I do!” He shared words of encouragement with his ecstatic fans. “You gotta listen to your teachers. Make sure you listen to your parents. Work hard,” he said.
The movie cast includes Jamie Foxx, who will play Walter McMillian, as well as Brie Larson and O’Shea Jackson. Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton is directing the film, which begins filming in Atlanta this fall and is expected to open in early 2020.