The Hurricane Tapes: Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin, Rubin Carter and a massive fish

In 1967, middleweight boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter and John Artis were convicted of triple murder in the United States. They spent almost 20 years in prison, maintaining their innocence, before being released. BBC World Service has investigated the murders - at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey - in their podcast series The Hurricane Tapes. This is their story.

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A triple murder. A guilty verdict. Forty hours of tape recordings from Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter tell the real story

Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin has given pride of place in his office to two photographs - one of him with Bobby Kennedy, and the other of Rubin Carter… holding a massive fish.

Episode nine of the Hurricane Tapes tells the story of Judge Sarokin and his decision, in 1985, to overturn the murder convictions of Carter and John Artis. As the presence of the photograph on his wall suggests, he's proud of the ruling and has never regretted it.

Sarokin lives in California these days, so we flew across the country to meet him in his beautiful apartment, which boasts ocean views with stunning floor-to-ceiling windows.

He's in his 90s - but the oldest interviewee in this series is also one of the sharpest. He dissects the case for and against Carter with razor-sharp recall, then apologises for his "foggy" memory in a way only those who genuinely know their subject often do.

He has more a hint of the late, great Stan Lee in his voice as he reads us a poem that he wrote in his youth. 'Sight' explains better than anything why Carter was fortunate Sarokin was the judge who oversaw his final days in court.

In it he talks about a white child who is banned from seeing his black friend, but their relationship is a "friendship that would always be". That, the poem concludes, is "the way it ought to be, the way we should all learn to see".

Bear in mind Sarokin would be the man to decide whether Carter would die in prison - Artis was granted parole in 1981 but Carter would never get that chance if the judge denied his petition for release.

Sarokin, as the poem shows, had been acutely aware since he was a high-school kid in the 1930s of the role race had played in the United States. In a case in which the prosecution had successfully pitched a controversial motive of racial revenge to a jury in the 1970s, this judge was always going to cast a sceptical eye.

If Sarokin has one regret about the story, it's that he never got the chance to play himself in The Hurricane - the film starring Denzel Washington. He auditioned but a producer called him to deliver the bad news.

"Don't worry, there will be other parts for you" she told him. He politely declined.

Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin
The inscription on Judge Haddon Lee Sarokin's picture of Rubin Carter reads: "Judge, if it wasn't for you, this fish would still be alive"
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Each week, BBC Sport will publish a new article to coincide with the latest episode of The Hurricane Tapes. A longer feature piece on the BBC World Service's investigation will then be published at the end of the podcast series. The tapes had been missing for nearly 10 years since author Ken Klonsky recorded a series of conversations with Carter for his book Eye Of The Hurricane: My Path From Darkness To Freedom. The audio contained in the tapes has not previously been heard by anyone other than Ken and Rubin Carter.