Commentary

Dan Lawton

Lawton is a trial and appellate lawyer. He practices in the federal and state courts, mostly in San Diego.

On Law

It’s been 25 years since Nelson Mandela walked free after 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa. Today, in San Diego, one wonders what value any writer could add to the ocean of ink spilled about Mandela down the years.

To me, each April marks a special time — the beginning of another baseball season. But there is something slightly different this spring — it marks the 40th anniversary of an event that had a deeper impact on the game than anything that ever happened on the field. That event was the dawn of free agency for major league players in 1975.

Tim Atkins is an African-American man from Los Angeles. He is humble, gentle and well-spoken. He is 47 years old today and a free man. For 20 years, he lived in state prison, after a jury convicted him of murdering Vicente Gonzalez in 1987. Atkins was innocent. The California Innocence Project, working pro bono, proved it in February 2007.

If you're like me, you filled out an NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket last week. March Madness is about dreams and escape. For competition, drama and pageantry, no sports tournament in America beats the Big Dance. I'll be watching.

Early one morning in the winter of 1982, two 20-year-old college students walked across the University of Notre Dame campus in a good mood after an evening at the bars. As the two passed the Main Building, a light in a third-floor office glowed brightly. The university president, a notorious night owl, was working late.

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