Panel to Examine Jeffrey MacDonald Case, Former Green Beret Doctor Jailed for 1970 Murder of Pregnant Wife and Two Young Daughters

Date: February 28, 2013
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Legal Experts to Discuss Issues Raised by Recent Book on Eve of MacDonald’s Last Appeal.

Central Islip, NY - Touro Law Review will sponsor a panel, “Wrongful Conviction? The Trial of Jeffrey MacDonald for the Murder of His Wife and Daughters,” on Wednesday, March 5, 12:30 p.m. at the Central Islip school. Panelists, including Touro Law professors Richard Klein and Rodger Citron, and Huntington attorney Richard Cahn, who represented MacDonald’s wife’s parents, will discuss the facts and legal issues raised by the case, including preservation of evidence, the influence of time on the ability to prove a case, and the role and discretion of a trial judge. The event is timely, as what is likely to be MacDonald's final appeal is currently pending before a federal district court in North Carolina.

“This promises to be an informative and lively discussion,” said Dean Patricia Salkin. “Our students and faculty often have vigorous discussions about current legal topics and cases, and this is yet another example.”

In 1970, Jeffrey MacDonald's pregnant wife and two young daughters were brutally murdered in their North Carolina home. MacDonald, an Army Green Beret physician at the time, said they were murdered by a group of "hippie" intruders. In 1979, however, after a campaign led by Alfred and Mildred Kassab, parents of MacDonald’s late wife, MacDonald was tried and convicted for the murders. Despite numerous appeals, MacDonald has been in prison for the last 30 years, and continues to assert his innocence. The case has been controversial ever since the murders, as many believe that MacDonald was wrongly convicted. A number of books about the case, including Joe McGinniss' "Fatal Vision," have added to the controversy. The latest, Errol Morris' "A Wilderness of Error," argues that MacDonald did not receive a fair trial and strongly suggests that MacDonald was innocent. Morris' book has received substantial media attention, including favorable reviews in The New York Times and other publications.

Recently, Richard Cahn, the attorney who represented MacDonald's wife’s parents, provided his views on the case in a review of Morris' book in the Touro Law Review. As indicated by the title, "Errol Morris, ‘A Wilderness of Error’: Provocative but Unpersuasive," Cahn disagrees with Morris's conclusions and argues that MacDonald was properly convicted for the murders. Cahn’s book review can be accessed at