Synopses & Reviews
This in-depth yet highly accessible books provides compelling human stories that illuminate the thorny legal issues behind the most noteworthy capital cases. 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 OBrien 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?
"Clancy and O'Brien, former Emmy and Silver Gavel Award winning journalists with ABC News, present a multifaceted look at murder cases at the highest levels of law. Although the book is a serious study of evolving death penalty jurisprudence, unsparing journalistic prose grounds accompanying events in the stark, gruesome facts underlying these precedent-setting cases. The result is an odd but effective mix of stomach-turning true crime stories and sophisticated analyses of Supreme Court decisions. In crafting their inquiries, the duo rely on photographs of victims, perpetrators, and crime scenes, as well as print sources, correspondence between Justices, and portions of opinions. A broad range of pivotal issues provide the meat for dissection and discussion, including the disparate impact of race in sentencing, the death penalty's applicability to juveniles, the rights of the survivors of victims to be heard at sentencing, the constitutionality of methods of execution, and the question of when and for what reasons death penalty sentences can be appealed. In the end, Clancy and O'Brien take a principled stand against the death penalty, but not before giving a fair hearing to the arguments made in its support. Photos. Agent: Ronald Goldfarb, Goldfarb & Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien are both veterans of ABC News, Clancy as a producer and writer, and O’Brien as the network’s longtime law correspondent. They have each reported on capital punishment for more than thirty years, interviewing witnesses, detectives, jurors, murderers, judges, and Supreme Court justices. Their journalism has earned each a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association, the Dupont-Columbia Award for excellence, and several national Emmy Awards. Clancy, a recipient of many awards for his investigative work, is perhaps best known for his partnership with Barbara Walters in producing marquee interviews with eight presidents, heads of state, and controversial newsmakers. O’Brien, a lawyer, has served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at four law schools and lectures frequently on the Supreme Court and legal issues.