Mental illness, prescription drug abuse and social justice are the hottest topics of the pandemic era. A new book, and its film adaptation, take on all three with a twisted tale worthy of John Grisham or Stephen King.
The book, “Clear Her Name,” was written by Anelia Sutton under the pen name Anne Smith, and published last year by Iron Sharpens Iron Council. It tells Sutton’s own story of how taking her daughter in for a routine dental visit to have her wisdom teeth removed quickly led to a life spiraling out of control after. When Sutton’s daughter suffers an adverse reaction to the prescription painkillers she’s given, resulting in uncharacteristic bouts of violence, she is arrested for attempted murder and plunged into the byzantine world of the contemporary American legal system. Things only get worse when Sutton and her daughter are manipulated by their own attorneys, as well as state doctors and an ambitious prosecutor who paints the younger woman as a monster who must be incarcerated, key tossed.
“This is the tale of a nightmare that lasts for eight years,” says author/filmmaker Sutton. “The film will resonate with people in the same way that other social justice films like Ana Duvernay’s ‘When They See Us’ and Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson’s ‘For Life’ have recently.”
As Sutton explains, “When They See Us” was the tale of the so-called Central Park Five, wrongly prosecuted for the gang rape of a Manhatttan jogger in 1989. “For Life” is a legal drama created by Hank Steinberg currently broadcast on ABC.
In “Clear Her Name,” however, it’s not a filmmaker or lawyer that gets to the bottom of injustice, but a mother. Sutton is forced to watch her daughter plied with addictive medications that leave her helpless, only to witness the corruption and breakdown of the legal system firsthand. Determined to save her daughter’s life, Sutton sets out to uncover the truth by researching the law.
“I was essentially denied being a mother for eight years,” says Sutton, “because my daughter was trapped in between two powerful entities — the justice system and the mental health industry.” Both had her in their crosshairs for their own reasons, which Sutton did not initially understand. To save her daughter and regain her own motherhood, she first had to work diligently to expose the lies employed to condemn and railroad her daughter, then to clear her daughter’s name.
Sutton adds that this was a particularly daunting task because she could not save her family without taking on the legal system as a whole. Failure, she observed, would have resulted in “a certain prosecutor and public offender” being emboldened to continue their reign of terror on other families. For Sutton, she says, “that is simply not an option.” In other words, she not only had to win her case, but change the American legal system forever.
Sutton is a Panama-born American writer and U.S. Navy veteran. She co-authored the bestseller “Performance 360” with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and has been featured in over 240 media outlets including NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, Huffington Post, and Forbes. She is also the recipient of many honors, including America’s Premier Experts Award. Look out for “Clear Her Name” in theaters and on streamers.