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Reckless Indifference - Reviews

Library Journal - October 2006

Reckless Indifference. color. 94 min. William Gazecki, dist. by Choices, Inc., 421 S. Beverly Dr., 5th fl., Beverly Hills, CA 90212; 310-203-0606; 2006. DVD ISBN 1-933724-04-8. $49.95. law

California’s felony/murder rule states that if a death occurs while a perpetrator is in the act of committing certain felonies (including robbery), that death is to be ruled murder in the first degree and carries a minimum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole for all participants regardless of their level of participation. Reckless Indifference focuses on one particular case and raises endless questions: Was there actually an attempted felony? What role did the deceased victim’s father (an LAPD officer) play in the investigation and prosecution? Was the surviving victim’s testimony reliable in light of his immunity deal against further prosecution on drug charges? Should all five of the defendants be tried under these conditions or only the one who admitted to the stabbing? Ultimately, is there justice when the felony/murder rule is applied in a case where youths get into a fight over marijuana and one accidental death occurs as it will in a case where someone is shot and killed in a well-planned bank robbery? With all of this said, the film is definitely slanted in favor of the defense and paints the victims as almost equally culpable; an objective viewing will undoubtedly elicit opposing questions. Still, this intense documentary will leave one wondering whether Lady Justice should remove her blindfold and take a careful look at some of the laws of our land and how they are carried out. Highly recommended.—Brian Burns, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA

Booklist - November 15th, 2006 issue

Reckless Indifference

2006. 94min. Choices, DVD, $49.95 (1-933724-04-8).
This gripping documentary raises serious questions about the U.S. justice system by profiling a case that occurred nearly 10 years ago in a white, middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. The case involves male teens (age 15 to 18) whose lives were irrevocably changed following a fatal knife fight. Four teens are arrested, charged with felony murder, found guilty, and sentenced to life without parole. The documentary heightens tension through dramatized reenactments, footage, news clips, newspaper headlines, still photos, and interviews with the victim’s parents and the incarcerated young men. Statements from attorneys (prosecutors and defenders) and noted lawyer Alan Dershowitz lead viewers to the disturbing realization that unjust hidden agendas (the district attorney wanted to appear tough following the O. J. Simpson trial) may have swayed the case. Did the court system manipulate facts and findings? Were the accused teens railroaded? Did the harsh punishment fit the crime? —Carol Holzberg
YA/C: Plenty of discussion material for students. CH.

Video Librarian - January/February 2006

Reckless Indifference ****
(2004) 105 min. DVD: $19.95. Admin Solutions. PPR. Color cover.
The fatal stabbing of a pot dealer might not warrant an extraordinary level of prosecutorial gusto, but the 1996 death of Jimmy Farris in a ritzy Los Angeles suburb appeared to bring an uncommonly energetic response from the local District Attorney. According to this documentary, the underlying reason was because Farris—although clearly identified as a marijuana dealer—also happened to be the son of a Los Angeles police officer. The resulting trial ended with sentences of life imprisonment without parole for all four surviving participants in the deadly backyard brawl that ended with Farris’ death, even though only one of the four actually committed the murder (the other three were literally onlookers to the crime). Oscar-nominated filmmaker William Gazecki (Waco: The Rules of Engagement) asks whether Farris’ father influenced the excessively harsh sentences for the three men who did not kill his son, and if the Los Angeles D.A. went full-throttle with this case because of a series of disastrous failures (most notably the O.J. Simpson debacle). While Gazecki’s filmmaking skills can charitably be described as scruffy (no one will mistake him for Errol Morris when it comes to camerawork or editing), the disturbing and haunting Reckless Indifference makes a solid argument that the case represents a true miscarriage of justice. Highly recommended. Editor’s Choice. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)

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