An Incredible Injustice: The Case of Brandon Hein


Any of you who are students of mine have almost certainly heard me mention William Gazecki’s extraordinary film “Reckless Indifference.” It is a must see, both for its formal brilliance and terrifying account of  injustice.

Rather than give you all the details, let me ask you a simple question:

How many of you, when young, ever unthinkingly put yourself in a position that had the potential to go horribly and irreversibly wrong?  Not a moment when anything necessarily did go wrong, but a situation when a mild risk or peril could have easily morphed into a full-blown tragedy.

I did have such a moment, and one day I will take the time to tell the story. I can tell you that I dodged the bullet. Fate worked to my advantage and a situation in which people could have lost their lives ended up just fine.

Gazecki’s film tells the story of one young man, Brandon Hein, who  stepped into just such a situation. But fate was not on his side and the result is that he has been serving a life sentence for well over  14 years.  Please see the film, learn about Brandon’s case, learn about the legal controversy surrounding something called the felony murder rule, and decide for yourself.

I did, and I am absolutely certain that this is a monmental injustice and that Brandon must be freed.

Finally, check out a piece about Brandon this week in Newsweek written by actor and social commentator Charles Grodin.

As long as this young man is in prison, I will be haunted by the fact that my brush with fate ended with no harm only because of the direction the wind was blowing on one warm, dry day in 1963 in the San Gabriel Valley of California.

Think of it: The direction the wind was blowing.

Let me know what you think.  And remember Brandon.

8 thoughts on “An Incredible Injustice: The Case of Brandon Hein

  1. Hello,
    My name is Emily, and I am a junior in high school. I just watched “Reckless Indifference” in my Street Law class and I am horrified at the way this case was handled. I have become obsessed with trying to help Brandon Hein, because I would hope people would do the same for me if I was in his shoes. I want to be able to somehow contact Brandon and/or his family and tell them that I want to help. I want to hold a protest and raise awareness of this horrible, monumental injustice. If there is anyway you could help me in contacting this family and help them, please contact me as soon as you can.
    Thank you for your time.

  2. Hi, My name is Heather. My boyfriend, Ryan and I just watched the “Reckless Indifference” movie. I completely appalled at how this case was handled. It is a complete injustice to a group of teenage boys only doing what they tend to do. Something so tragic turned into a media circus for no good reason. I too would like to reach out to Brandon. It is possible to write to him or anything else we can do. I am also a first year grad student and interested in using this case as a thesis. If you could provide me with anything I would much appreciative. Thanks!!

  3. Heather,
    This Felony Murder Rule is more unjust and COMMON than you could ever believe. I have just been introduced to this ‘rule’ in the case of my young son, Trevor. He is in prison for life- without the possibility of parole. It just so happened that one day when visiting Trevor, he mentioned his friend, Brandon, and low and behold it turned out to be THE Brandon Hein. Trevor has a similar, unbelievably tragic story and is incarcerated in the same prison. I got in contact with Mr. and Mrs. Hein who are incredible people. We ALL need to join in this crusade to get this unjust rule thrown out. Please feel free to contact me!

  4. This case haunts me, I have written Gov. Brown on his website, but of course, nobody is doing anything. It seems like a pardon is the only chance. This case makes me ill.

  5. P.S.

    I believe the sociopathic DA in this case has passed away. How he could sleep at night with what he did to them amazes me.

  6. Pingback: One injustice that simply won’t end: The saga of Brandon Hein | Media and Mayhem

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