When Anelia Sutton searched for the words to describe the nightmare that defined her family for nearly a decade, she realized that it can be condensed into one sentence: “My daughter went to the dentist and ended up in jail.” Now, that story is going to be told on the big screen.
A Nightmare Scenario
It all started when Sutton’s daughter went to the dental surgeon to get her wisdom teeth removed, and was then over-prescribed the wrong drug. It caused side effects that made her uncharacteristically violent, leading to her being arrested for attempted murder. Sutton’s daughter was quickly vilified, and lawyers did not sufficiently investigate her mental state. Specifically, the doctor hired by prosecutors did not interview family, friends, or co-workers following her delusional state, but instead concluded that “she is sane and knows right from wrong today”.
In contrast, another doctor researched her family background and interviewed those close to her, concluding that Sutton’s daughter was out of her mind as a result of the medication, and had no way of knowing right from wrong at the time of the offense. A third doctor — the emergency room physician — testified, and said she was indeed delusional and clearly out of her mind. The damage, however, was already done.
A Battle For The Truth
What followed was an eight-year-long battle with Sutton and her daughter’s own attorney, state doctors, and a relentless prosecutor in their search for the truth. For Sutton, this meant fighting to free her daughter from two of the most powerful entities in the United States — the justice and mental health systems. Her journey was motivated by a need to bring lies to the surface that were used to condemn her daughter in the public eye, in order to clear her name, and maybe even change the justice system for the better. Sutton’s experience motivated her to write the social justice book “Clear Her Name” under the pen name of Anne Smith.
“You would think that being prescribed too many wrong medications that led to her psychotic break would position the justice system on her side, but it did the exact opposite,” the book’s synopsis reads. “Persecuted by her own attorneys, state doctors, and a prosecutor with false evidence who painted her as a monster, she was imprisoned, forced to take medications, and denied to be a mother for over eight years.”
Beyond the book, Sutton took the opportunity to heal from this painful experience by ensuring no one else would go through it. Throughout her research, she came to the realization that this could happen to absolutely anyone. She invested years researching to discover how people could protect their families from dangerous medical side effects, in addition to learning the logistics of the corruption between big pharma and the justice system. A brief scan of her website will yield pages of legal precedents, advice, and defenses for others suffering at the hands of a system that feels impenetrable.
Sutton also started the Iron Sharpens Iron Council on Facebook, which has racked up thousands of followers and now operates as a website council. “I also believe good people can do more good with more,” Sutton writes. “If you desire to leave this world a better place for the next generation, among peaceful people seeking kind cooperation, where every voice matters and everyone has a seat at the table, you found it.”
Adapted For the Screen
“Clear Her Name” is currently being adapted into a film, which Sutton says will be similar to Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” a miniseries based on the infamous Central Park Five case where five young men of color were wrongly charged with the 1989 assault and rape of a jogger.
Oftentimes, when a story is brought to life on the big screen, it creates a renewed focus on the injustice or issues explored throughout. As Sutton continues her fight to enlighten and educate others who may be going through similar circumstances, this may just bring attention to these unjust systems and institutions for the very first time.
Find out more at ClearHerName.com