Last week I linked to an op-ed by Jon Voight with the caveat that I generally don't really care about the opinions of celebrities. Today, I want you to meet one of the few exceptions to my rule: Mike Farrell. I had the honor of meeting Mike at a death penalty protest several years ago and he truly does walk the walk of his values and there's no way to do anything but respect him for that and for the dignity he brings to activism and this important topic. He and his friend Don McCartin contributed this op-ed, originally in the LA Daily News, but here for you from Truthdig:
We are an unlikely pair-not "The Odd Couple," but close. Forty-five years ago, one was a successful lawyer practicing in Orange County, the other an aspiring actor living there because his new wife taught at Laguna Beach High School.
The lawyer had lawsuits to handle, papers to be filed, people to be found, summonses and subpoenas to be served.
The actor, unable to count on work in show business, ran an attorney service that took care of the lawyer's business.
Both former Marines, we thus knew each other, if casually, for years.
Two decades later, the lawyer, then a judge of the Superior Court, had sentenced more men to death than any other in his jurisdiction. He was known as "the hanging judge of Orange County."
The actor had gotten lucky, becoming a member of the cast of "M*A*S*H," one of the nation's most beloved TV shows, and was an ardent and outspoken opponent of the death penalty.
Today, while coming at it from vastly different perspectives, the now-retired "hanging judge" and the actor, who chairs Death Penalty Focus, find themselves working together again, this time to close California's death chamber.