A cautionary tale that grabs the attention and holds it.

READ REVIEW

BLOODSWORTH

THE TRUE STORY OF THE FIRST DEATH ROW INMATE EXONERATED BY DNA

A disturbing account of one man’s shattering experience of being wrongly convicted of raping and murdering a young girl.

Lawyer/novelist Junkin (Good Counsel, 2001, etc.) opens his story by introducing Bob Morin, the lawyer who took on the case of Kirk Bloodsworth and succeeded in freeing him after Bloodsworth had spent nearly a decade in prison, some of it on death row. Morin located a lab in 1993 that could perform the sophisticated tests demonstrating that DNA from the sperm sample found on the victim’s clothing did not match Bloodsworth’s. The story then shifts back to 1984 and the murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton and the subsequent arrest of Bloodsworth. Even though the outcome is known from the start, Junkin spins an absorbing tale that is partly police procedural, partly courtroom drama, and chock-full of human interest. Drawing on court transcripts, newspaper reports, and interviews with many of those involved, he shows how the eagerness of the police to make an arrest and their subsequent lax attention to correct procedures, especially involving witness identification, led to Bloodsworth’s indictment, and he captures the personalities of those involved and the details of the strategy and tactics of both prosecution and defense in the trial. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death, with execution stayed pending an automatic appeal. When Bloodsworth was retried in 1987, he was again found guilty, but this time a different judge sentenced him to two consecutive life terms. What is most difficult to read is Junkin’s vivid depiction of Bloodsworth’s time in prison. For a time, his despair led him to drugs, but he overcame his addiction and never stopped proclaiming his innocence, reading everything in the prison library that might help him prove it. When Joseph Wambaugh’s The Blooding alerted him to the possibility of DNA testing, he contacted Morin, who began the long process that eventually led to his freedom. Bloodsworth is now a vocal advocate of prison reform and opponent of capital punishment.

A cautionary tale that grabs the attention and holds it.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2004

ISBN: 1-56512-419-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

LICENSED TO LIE

EXPOSING CORRUPTION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

A former Justice Department lawyer, who now devotes her private practice to federal appeals, dissects some of the most politically contentious prosecutions of the last 15 years.

Powell assembles a stunning argument for the old adage, “nothing succeeds like failure,” as she traces the careers of a group of prosecutors who were part of the Enron Task Force. The Supreme Court overturned their most dramatic court victories, and some were even accused of systematic prosecutorial misconduct. Yet former task force members such as Kathryn Ruemmler, Matthew Friedrich and Andrew Weissman continued to climb upward through the ranks and currently hold high positions in the Justice Department, FBI and even the White House. Powell took up the appeal of a Merrill Lynch employee who was convicted in one of the subsidiary Enron cases, fighting for six years to clear his name. The pattern of abuse she found was repeated in other cases brought by the task force. Prosecutors of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen pieced together parts of different statutes to concoct a crime and eliminated criminal intent from the jury instructions, which required the Supreme Court to reverse the Andersen conviction 9-0; the company was forcibly closed with the loss of 85,000 jobs. In the corruption trial of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key witness was intimidated into presenting false testimony, and as in the Merrill Lynch case, the prosecutors concealed exculpatory evidence from the defense, a violation of due process under the Supreme court’s 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision. Stevens’ conviction, which led to a narrow loss in his 2008 re-election campaign and impacted the majority makeup of the Senate, seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back; the presiding judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate abuses. Confronted with the need to clean house as he came into office, writes Powell, Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to take action.

The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61254-149-5

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Brown Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

more