True-life reporting on vicious criminals and the haphazard system that punishes them
In 1969, the Supreme Court justices cast votes in secret that could have signaled the end of the death penalty. Later, the justices’ resolve began to unravel. Why? What were the consequences for the rule of law and for the life at stake in the case?
These are some of the fascinating questions answered in Murder at the Supreme Court. Veteran journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien not only pull back the curtain of secrecy that surrounds Supreme Court deliberations but also reveal the crucial links between landmark capital-punishment cases and the lethal crimes at their root. The authors take readers to crime scenes, holding cells, jury rooms, autopsy suites, and execution chambers to provide true-life reporting on vicious criminals and the haphazard judicial system that punishes them. The cases reported are truly "the cases that made the law." They have defined the parameters that judges must follow for a death sentence to stand up on appeal.
Beyond the obvious questions regarding the dubious deterrent effect of capital punishment or whether retribution is sufficient justification for the death penalty (regardless of the heinous nature of the crimes committed), the cases and crimes examined in this book raise other confounding issues: Is lethal injection really more humane than other methods of execution? Should a mentally ill killer be forcibly medicated to make him "well enough" to be executed? How does the race of the perpetrator or the victim influence sentencing? Is heinous rape a capital crime? How young is too young to be executed?
This in-depth yet highly accessible book provides compelling human stories that illuminate the thorny legal issues behind the most noteworthy capital cases.
"This book takes the smoke screen out of the capital-punishment debate and dishes out the realities: the challenges to judges and lawmakers posed by awful crimes, competing pressures on the scale of justice, and the role of victims in determining punishment. A great read and more. Martin Clancy and Tim O'Brien have written an important book."
-Barbara Walters, ABC News
"This book is a lightning strike. It quickens the mind, illuminates the landscape, and guarantees you will see things differently-in this case, how the jagged edges of justice come to bear on decisions of life and death. Clancy and O'Brien are journalists at the top of their class, where facts matter and reporting can read like a novel."
-Bill Moyers, journalist, author, and managing editor, Moyers & Company
"A fascinating treatment of some of the Supreme Court's seminal criminal-law cases, complete with the invariably intriguing facts, characters, and circumstances that made each case so unique and compelling. A great read for lawyers, students, and the general public alike. The makings of a great true-life television series."
-Ted Olson, former U.S. Solicitor General
"A thoughtful and fascinating look behind the headlines of some of the most grisly-and important-murder cases at the Supreme Court."
-Jeffrey Toobin, writer for the New Yorker, legal analyst for CNN
"The most knowledgeable and informative book about crime and capital punishment available today."
-Johnny Hughes, U.S. Marshal, District of Maryland (Hughes, a veteran law-enforcement officer, is a former major in the Maryland State Police)
"A thought-provoking book written at the right time for our society to revisit the death penalty."
-Burl Cain, warden at Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola (Cain has pre