BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT?; The Frial of Caryl Chessman by William M. Kunstler

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT?; The Frial of Caryl Chessman

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Kunstler, an Eastern attorney and law professor who had nothing to do with California's most celebrated criminal case, has managed to obtain access to enough material about the Chessman trial to feel he is entitled to write a book about it. He devotes 14 chapters to a reprise of what is supposed to have taken place at that trial, and then appends a chapter explaining that the demise of the court reporter and subsequent mishandling by other stenographers make it virtually impossible to construct a true and representative trial record. Basically, Kunstler's treatment substantiates another current volume on the subject (Ninth Life, Putnam, May 15) by Machlin and Woodfield, two magazine men who followed Chessman's case through the appellate machinery. Although not as well written, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? is an interesting companion volume to Ninth Life, contributing its share to a scathing indictment of the many flaws in the jury system. No matter who is telling the tale, a defendant who elects to stand trial in propria persona gets the bad end of the courtroom bargain. In the minds of the American public, the Chessman case will not be closed until the courts of the land finally come to grips with the issue of capital punishment on a universal basis.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1961
Publisher: Morrow