Hip hop star/actor/producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has signed a development deal with attorney Isaac Wright, Jr. to bring his compelling story to television. Wright is a former break-dancer with Uptown Express, a dance collective that ended up becoming finalists on “Star Search.” In the early 1990s, Wright was charged with running one of the largest drug distribution networks in the New York, New Jersey metropolitan areas. In 1991, Wright was convicted under New Jersey’s drug kingpin law and was sentenced to life in prison.
While in prison, Wright studied the law and oversaw his own appeal. Things turned in his favor during the cross-examination of veteran police detective James Dugan during an evidentiary hearing in 1996, where Wright convinced Dugan to break the code of silence and confess to police misconduct in his case. Dugan’s confession opened revelations of wide and systematic misconduct and cover-up in Wright’s case, pointing the finger in his case specifically at Somerset County’s head prosecutor Nicholas L. Bissell, Jr.
Dugan fingered Bissell as being the orchestrator of the misconduct, directing police officers to falsify their police reports while he personally dictated the false testimony of witnesses and made secret deals with defense attorneys to have their clients provide false testimony to jurors that Wright was their drug boss and they had also pled guilty and were facing prison time. Truth is, those stories were fabricated and none of the people who testified faced even a day in jail.
Dugan pled guilty to official misconduct in order to escape prison and Judge Michael Imbriani, who oversaw the trial, was removed from the bench and was sent to prison on theft charges. Bissell, after learning of Dugan’s confession on TV news, took flight with federal authorities in pursuit. As police were kicking in the door of his Las Vegas hotel room, Bissell shot himself in a head, committing suicide.
After being released from prison, Wright spent another seven years pursuing his law degree and got his undergraduate degree in 2002. He began law school in 2004 and graduated from Saint Thomas University School of Law in 2007. The law school renamed its cafeteria in his name. Wright then passed the New Jersey Bar in 2008, but spent the next nine years being investigated by the New Jersey Bar’s Committee on character before being granted admission to the bar by the New Jersey Supreme Court on September 27, 2017, where he was officially sworn in as a licensed attorney. On that day Wright became the first and only person in U.S. history to be sent to prison for life as a drug kingpin, secure his own freedom and exoneration while creating new law in the process, obtain a law degree and be admitted to practice law by the very same Court that condemned him.
“I went to law school for one reason and one reason only,” says Wright. “To slay giants for a price. And if the giant is big enough and the cause is important enough, I’ll do it for free, especially when it involves helping those who cannot help themselves.”
He is now a counsel with the firm Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley located in Newark, New Jersey.