Authors of Bestselling Book, Picking Cotton, To Speak at Law & Society Luncheon

By Pete Anderson & Carl Horn III, Law & Society Committee Co-Chairs


We are very pleased to announce that Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, co-authors of the bestselling book Picking Cotton, will be the keynote speakers for the 20th annual Law & Society Luncheon on Thursday, November 19, 2009 at the Uptown Hilton Hotel.


The story behind Picking Cotton is both moving and dramatic.  It begins with the violent 1984 rape of 22 year old college student, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino who was convinced that the man she identified from a police lineup, Ronald Cotton, was her assailant. Tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment, Cotton served 11 years in North Carolina's Central Prison in Raleigh - until DNA testing proved that he was innocent of the crime of which he stood convicted.


Twelve years after discovering the error that had sent an innocent man to prison, Ms. Thompson-Cannino and Mr. Cotton co-authored a book which landed on the New York Times Bestseller List in less than a month. Their story is more than another example of the potential unreliability of eyewitness testimony, or the conviction of an innocent man.  It is a moving personal story of apology and forgiveness. The close friendship that develops between the "accuser" and the "accused" puts this real-life drama in a class of its own.


Publisher's Weekly described the book as "riveting," Studs Terkel as "remarkable & powerful & a MUST read." Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, writes that Picking Cotton "will break your heart and lift it up again," and Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project hails the message as "compelling and profound" The authors have appeared on the Today Show, NPR's Diane Rehm Show and 60 Minutes.  You may visit to learn more.


The 20th annual Law & Society Luncheon will include the presentation of the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation's highest honor, the Ayscue Professionalism Award. Past award winners have included NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker and Joseph W. Grier Jr.  Please mark your calendars for what is bound to be a very memorable event.


The annual Law & Society Luncheon gives lawyers an opportunity to enjoy good fellowship and an inspiring message, and to support the good work of the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation. We also encourage you to bring along nonlawyer friends and colleagues because this is one of the rare Bar and Bar Foundation events open to the public. For more information on firm sponsorships or how you can help promote this year's event and/or support the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation, please contact Pete Anderson or Carl Horn (both at 704-372-7370) or Events Coordinator Leah Reed at