This is a book around racial justice. It’s particularly fitting for this year, with a wider awareness of racial violence on social media. Maybe it’s because of my ignorance on this topic, but it was quite heartbreaking to see that people can become scapegoats of murder simply because of their skin color. It happened in one of the most economically advanced countries in the world which took pride in their democratic values and the rule of law. It’s even more heartbreaking when you’re the lawyer helping the victim out and you can’t save that innocent man’s life. It makes the judicial system almost like a joke. This book also reminds me of a documentary on netflix called “The three deaths of Marisela Escobedo”. People make such weak attempt to cover their true intentions with facades of justice that it is almost sadly comical.
P.S. I have to confess I did not finish the whole book. The topic is quite dark and it takes some effort to pick up the book.
- I had no time to make war with the Atlanta Police when I had clients facing execution. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about how dangerous and unfair the situation was and how I’d done nothing wrong. And what if I had had drugs in my car? I would have been arrested and then would have needed to convince my attorney to believe me when I explained that the police had entered the car illegally. Would I get an attorney who would take such a claim seriously? Would a judge believe that I’d done nothing wrong? Would they believe someone who was just like me but happened not to be a lawyer? Someone like me who was unemployed or had a prior criminal record?
- The elections attract campaign contributions from business interests seeking tort reform or from trial lawyers who want to protect large civil verdicts, but since most voters are unschooled in these areas, the campaigns invariably focus on crime and punishment. Each judge competes to be the toughest on crime. The people financing these elections are largely unconcerned with whatever modest differences exist between candidates on crime, but punishment gets the votes. Judge overrides are an incredibly potent political tool. No judge wants to deal with attack ads that highlight the grisly details of a murder case in which the judge failed to impose the most severe punishment. Seen in that light, it’s not surprising that judge overrides tend to increase in election years.
- During the trial, the appointed defense lawyer presented no evidence about Herbert’s background, his military service, his trauma from the war, his relationship with the victim, his obsession with the girlfriend— nothing. Alabama’s statute at the time limited what court- appointed lawyers could be paid for their out- of- court preparation time to $ 1,000, so the lawyer spent almost no time on the case. The trial lasted just over a day, and the judge quickly condemned Herbert to death.
- His testimony had caused so much anguish for Walter and his family that I had created a larger- than- life image of him. He walked toward us but stopped short when he saw Michael and nervously blurted out, “Who is he? You didn’t tell me you were bringing anybody with you.” Myers had a thick Southern accent. Up close, his scars made him appear more sympathetic than menacing or villainous.