Document Type



Part I of this Commentary objectively analyzes The Thin Blue Line, focusing on the film’s monologues, dramatizations, and exhibits. The film's organizational structure roughly parallels the stages of the criminal justice process, from the investigation and arrest of Adams to his trial, conviction, sentence, and post-conviction litigation. The prologue and epilogue unify the story. Part II attempts to explain the bizarre judicial result, focusing on the prosecutor's dominant role in the criminal justice process. It concludes, as does the film, that one of the fundamental features of our legal system - the intrinsic ability of the adversary process to discover the truth6 - cannot function when weighed down by prosecutorial misconduct. Part III analyzes the film's epistemological conclusion that although ultimate truth is unknowable, the artist's version of the truth can be superior to the official version arrived at by law. Part IV offers a brief conclusion and brings the case up-to-date.