An inside look at last year's famed Goetz trial in Manhattan, by one of the jurors who sat in judgment of the ""Subway...


SUBWAY GUNMAN: A Juror's Account of the Bernhard Goetz Trial

An inside look at last year's famed Goetz trial in Manhattan, by one of the jurors who sat in judgment of the ""Subway Gunman's"" December 1984 shooting rampage. Sensing a book, Lesly kept notes and tapes each evening of the trial, recording his daily impressions. There is not much here, however, that hasn't been reported by courtroom journalists, since--apart from his own notes--Lesly relies heavily on court transcripts. What is of primary interest are Lesly's subjective feelings as the trial progressed--feelings that sometimes turned against the defense as a result of attorney Slotnick's grandstanding manner, and occasionally got confused by conflicting testimony concerning the shooting of Darrell Cabey. (To most of the jurors it was evident that, as Lesly writes, ""All the rest was window dressing."" Of the essence was whether Goetz had shot Cabey execution-style while Cabey was seated. The prosecution was never able to convince the jury that that was the case.) But the real drama of the book is in Lesly's narrative of the jury deliberations. The author apparently was instrumental in convincing abstaining jurors, particularly a female English professor, of Goetz's innocence--even while sometimes overriding Lesly's own objections (one of the jurors nicknamed the author ""the mouth that roared""). Lesly and other jurors felt personally that Goetz was a sick man and had overreacted. The author states that the fault in failing to convict Goetz lies not with the jury, judge, or prosecutor, but with a deficiency in the justification laws for self-defense. ""The law, I think, is not specific enough about the alternatives Goetz should have been required to seek before being allowed to fire his gun as a legitimate act of self-defense."" There will likely be more books about this case, but Lesly's view from the trenches, combined with the recent A Crime of Self-Defense (p. 741), by George Fletcher, which gives the View from the ivory tower, should be more than enough to provide a firm grounding in the realities of the Goetz saga.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1988


Page Count: -

Publisher: British American--dist. by Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1988