A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America

A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America❰EPUB❯ ✹ A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America Author Evan Mandery – Oaklandjobs.co.uk Drawing on never before published original source detail, the epic story of two of the most consequential, and largely forgotten, moments in Supreme Court historyFor two hundred years, the constitutio Drawing on never Justice: The MOBI ñ before published original source detail, the epic story of two of the most consequential, and largely forgotten, moments in A Wild PDF/EPUB or Supreme Court historyFor two hundred years, the constitutionality of capital punishment had been axiomatic But in , Justice Arthur Goldberg and his clerk Wild Justice: The PDF/EPUB ✓ Alan Dershowitz dared to suggest otherwise, launching an underfunded band of civil rights attorneys on a quixotic crusade In , in a most unlikely victory, the Supreme Court struck down Georgia s death penalty law in Furman v Georgia Though the decision had sharply divided the justices, nearly everyone, including the justices themselves, believed Furman would mean the end of executions in AmericaInstead, states responded with a swift and decisive showing of support for capital punishment As anxiety about crime rose and public approval of the Supreme Court declined, the stage was set infor Gregg v Georgia, in which the Court dramatically reversed directionA Wild Justice is an extraordinary behind the scenes look at the Court, the justices, and the political complexities of one of the most racially charged and morally vexing issues of our time. My first job out of law school was as a clerk for a state court of general jurisdiction In the legal world, a law clerk is usually a younger attorney, fresh out of law school, who for some inverted reason gives advice and counsel to a judge with far greater experience In that role, I got to participate in that rarest of legal proceedings a capital murder case From various vantage points in open court, in the judge s chambers, listening to the sidebars, eventually in my dreams , I was th My first job out of law school was as a clerk for a state court of general jurisdiction In the legal world, a law clerk is usually a younger attorney, fresh out of law school, who for some inverted reason gives advice and counsel to a judge with far greater experience In that role, I got to participate in that rarest of legal proceedings a capital murder case From various vantage points in open court, in the judge s chambers, listening to the sidebars, eventually in my dreams , I was there for the whole arduous process, from the first pretrial motions to the final order sentencing the defendant to death It was, to put it mildly, an experience Thus, I read Evan Mandery s A Wild Justice with quite a bit of professional interest It should be noted that by professional, I mean functionally alcoholic A Wild Justice covers the period in American history when capital punishment itself seemed to die, slain by zealous attorneys and an acquiescent Supreme Court, only to be reborn within a matter of years, risen from the dead like an archaic jurisprudential zombie It is not, to be clear, a simple story A Wild Justice is not written for specialists It is not even written for average attorneys with an over fondness for Yellow Tail wine It is written for lay people, complete with asterisks next to legal terms of art, which are defined at the bottom of the page Still, legal opinions are often tricky at best United States Supreme Court opinions are the trickiest of legal opinions And the Supreme Court s handling of the death penalty cases from 1972 1976 present one of the most complex, mystifying runs in Court history Generally, great weight is given to precedential authority, a dictum known as stare decisis During this period, the Court overrode itself twice in a matter of four years Mandery begins his story in 1962, when Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and his clerk Allan Dershowitz, came to the conclusion that the death penalty violated the 8th Amendment s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment Dershowitz helped Goldberg pen an internal memorandum for the Court s consumption Later, he published a dissent from the Court s denial of certiorari in Rudolph v Alabama the denial from cert meant that the Supreme Court wouldn t hear the case arguing that the Court should take up the matter of capital punishment s constitutionality Goldberg specifically challenged the imposition of the death penalty for rape cases however, his framing of the questions essentially provided a blueprint for enterprising civil rights attorneys to follow in attempting to strike the death penalty completely A small band of lawyers, led by Anthony Amsterdam of the Legal Defense Fund LDF took Goldberg up on his offer The LDF, which had been called the most important law firm in America, rose to prominence in the capital punishment field because the ACLU refused to view the matter as a civil rights issue The LDF had won several monumental legal victories, including the most famous Supreme Court of all Brown v The Board of Education The LDF s interest in capital punishment came from the disproportionate way in which it was applied In other words, it fell heavily on the poor and minorities and fell especially hard if the poor or minority person had perpetrated against a white person The attorney handling capital punishment for LDF was Tony Amsterdam Though Manderly politely refrains from taking a legal policy position on capital punishmenton that in a moment , Amsterdam is clearly the hero of this story The sling wielding David against the Goliath of entrenched legal historical reality of the death penalty If LDF was the most important law firm in the United States, Tony Amsterdam was surely the most important individual lawyer No other attorney in American history has had such a profound influence on civil rights issues In addition to playing a role in every major Supreme Court death penalty case argued since 1965, Amsterdam won important victories limiting the ability of police officers to stop and frisk suspects, protecting free speech, and in defense of the civil rights of the Black Panther Bobby Seale He argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court, once three in a single week.Amsterdam and LDF broke through, briefly, with a case called Furman v Georgia, involving the murder of a man during a home invasion robbery There were two other companion cases plus a third that went moot but I ll ignore them in order to avoid further muddying the waters of this legal Mississippi In Furman, a sharply divided Supreme Court held the death penalty unconstitutional in the cases before it The Furman case is an absolute mess to read I know because I read it The crux of the decision is a brief, 5 4 per curiam opinion meaning that no one Justice takes authorial credit finding the death penalty in the Furman trilogy unconstitutional Then there are nine 9 separate opinions each explaining what the individual Justice believed the state of the law to be None of the majority justices agreed with each other as to why the death penalty was unconstitutional The result was a 66,000 word monstrosity with no controlling holding I still remember the baleful glare of the librarian when I printed off Furman in the law library That printer printed for what felt like an hour The upshot of Furman was a four year moratorium on the death penalty while State legislatures tried to figure out what the opinion meant while crafting new capital punishment statutes Those new laws were tested in Gregg v Georgia along with four companion cases , in which the Supreme Court, in a slightly less byzantine manner, reaffirmed the ultimate constitutionality of the death penalty, while providingmeaningful guidelines for its imposition In the short run, the moratorium hurt as much as it helped Unlike Prohibition and the Volstead Act, which failed as a law but ultimately reduced the consumption of alcohol, the brief death penalty restriction unleashed a wave of executions and a surge in its popularity On the bright side thinking as a human being, not just a lawyer important guidelines and protections were put in place Eventually, the Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment for rape Coker v Georgia , for the legally insane Ford v Wainwright , for the mentally retarded Atkins v Virginia, for minors Roper v Simmons , and eventually for any crime short of murder Kennedy v Louisiana though crimes against the State, i.e espionage, are excepted Manderly guides you through this tortured legal history using a hybrid narrative analysis approach He sets up certain scenes, and tells certain arcs, as though it were a Grisham novel At other points, however, he stops for legal historical analysis This can sometimes be confusing, as it requires Manderly to jump forward and backward in time At certain points, he ll name drop a case before explaining its relevance To this end, a short summary of pertinent cases is helpfully included in the back of the book along with some very interesting endnotes that are also worth a look for the way they continue certain discussions not contained in the text For me, A Wild Justice started rather slow Despite being the torch bearer of the movement, Manderly s characterization of Tony Amsterdam is too flattering and one dimensional and a bit worshipful.The book hits its stride when it comes to the actual deliberations and inner workings of the Supreme Court I don t want to oversell this book, but the Court centric chapters are the best accounts of the Court I ve read since The Brethren shed light on the Burger Court A glance at the acknowledgements shows why Manderly has gotten incredible access to those surviving players mostly law clerks who were there Indeed, it seems only Warren Burger s clerks refused to talk, due to some odd oath they took to one of the Court sduplicitous and intellectually lacking members I would go so far as to say that the chapter on Byron Whizzer White was almost worth cover price That s an obvious exaggeration Nothing in any book is ever worth today s inflated cover price The beginning of understanding Byron White thus is to understand that he didn t want to be understood David Frederick, a former White clerk said, Being non ideological and non doctrinaire was clearly very important to White, just as was being his own person and not worrying about his place in history Another clerk said White s judicial philosophy is best found in the elusive originality embedded in the particular White took realism s skepticism regarding classification to a different level His attempt to defy all labels, schools, and intellectual boxes was a conscious effort to remain unpredictable.Mandery is a law professor who formerly worked as a capital defense attorney Accordingly, one might pick this up thinking it s a polemic That s just the case This is a generally unbiased book save for his view of Tony Amsterdam that isn t really trying to make an argument for or against capital punishment So, because I can, I ll go ahead an make the argument that Mandery neglects Is the death penalty unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment No, it s pretty clearly not I m not a strict constructionist by any means, since I lack Scalia s miraculous ability to divine the intent of dozens of different Constitutional framers Yet it is quite obvious that capital punishment existed at the time the Constitution was written, ergo, the it s equally as plain that the 8th Amendment didn t exist to strike those punishments down However, I think there is an argument which the Supreme Court has disagreed with that capital punishment is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment s equal protection clause, on an as applied basis, as the death penalty is grossly arbitrary in its application Especially with regards to race Do I think the death penalty is wrong, constitutionality aside Yes resoundingly Deterrence There has never been a study showing that the death penalty acts as a deterrent This has been shown empirically, though numbers can t show why Intuitively, though, this lack of a deterrent effect makes sense I ve been around a lot of criminal defendants, and foresight and planning are not among their strong suits Very few people commit crimes thinking about the consequences.Recidivism But the death penalty keeps dangerous people off the street Please There are a shocking 10,000 people in the United States the largest prison in the world serving sentences of life without parole for nonviolent offenses Prisoners convicted of capital crimes can just as easily be kept off the streets with LWOP sentences In most states, even a conviction for second degree murder coupled with a use charge means you re leaving prison on a gurney, with a sheet over your head.Economics Often in the death penalty debate, you hear the I don t want to pay for these guys argument Meaning, of course, that it s cheaper to kill em than house em Not so It costs less to house a person in the general population than it does on death row Respect for the State Killing a person is a homicide When the State does it under the law, it is justified, it is sanctioned, but it is still a homicide For the government of the people, by the people, for the people to be killing its citizens promotes disrespect for the State The State knows this, which is why executions are clothed in secrecy, carried out in private, and why State legislatures are passing obnoxious secrecy laws about the mechanisms of death If you want to execute, do it in the open, where we all can see Afterwards, we all can vote Dehumanization The death penalty is a dehumanizing process for everyone involved I know this from personal experience, from watching it close up Deciding who lives and who dies involves terrible comparisons that require judges and juries to weigh one crime against another, one victim against another In this calculus, child victims trump adults female victims trump male victims you get to the point where you re trying to decide whether a murder is especially heinous or cruel when murder, by its very nature, is always heinous or cruel And then there s the people who have to carry it out There s a reason executioners used to hide their faces It s not because they re proud of what they do Prison is not a joke I don t know why people think prison is getting off easy Prison sucks I ve been inside them But you don t have to visit or get convicted of a felony to see this Just watch Lockup Raw on MSNBC It s how I spend many Saturdays Gary Gil, the first man executed after the post Gregg moratorium ended, wanted to die He wanted to die quite badly Because he hated prison The lights are always on It s loud You have no privacy The food is terrible You are always being counted You can t go anywhere without constant restriction The whole universe of pleasures from a walk in the mountains to a day by the lake to a hamburger on a grill to a beer on your patio to heterosexual sex are gone forever, the memories of things you ll never see again in this life That is one hell of a punishment, if you ask me Victim shifting Finally, the death penalty changes the focus of these crimes One thing I noticed in this book is that the crimes are barely described This probably wasn t intentional, but its emblematic of this truth capital punishment keeps killers in the news, in our consciousness, while we forget the people they killed We recall the names of Furman and Gregg, but we don t think at all about who they slaughtered By the time we get around to killing these cons, they re older and different men When the State puts them to death, they re suddenly the victims, the ones remembered, and that s not the way it should be.Killing, unfortunately, is firmly within human nature It is part of mankind s limitless abilities That ability can as in war be legally justified I do not believe, however, that the question begins and ends with our ability to kill, or with our ability to justify the act It extends to the question of choosing who deserves their continued and existence, and who does not Back when I was working on that capital case, I also happened to be reading Orwell and abusing NyQuill One night, I had a profoundly vivid dream A talking pig, dressed in a suit, approached me in the Courthouse and said It is very arrogant of you to think you know what you think you know That talking pig was right The wisdom to decide who lives and dies, I m quite sure, eludes every person on this earth When I was in law school, I read in passing that the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in the mid 1970 s, but then reintroduced it just a few years later I recall thinking, Something must have happened I didn t investigate further at the time, and yet the question always stayed with me What exactly happened in those few years that s now generally forgotten to history Evan Mandery s book answered that question and then some It turns out A LOT happened in those years The twists a When I was in law school, I read in passing that the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in the mid 1970 s, but then reintroduced it just a few years later I recall thinking, Something must have happened I didn t investigate further at the time, and yet the question always stayed with me What exactly happened in those few years that s now generally forgotten to history Evan Mandery s book answered that question and then some It turns out A LOT happened in those years The twists and turns that led to the Supreme Court first striking down capital punishment only to resurrect it a few years later was indeed wild And the human beings that actually tried and decided these cases the justices, lawyers, and law clerks take center stage in this book Mandery is a really good writer This book was a page turner in the mold of a John Grisham novel Mandery takes what can be a dry topic Supreme Court jurisprudence and turns it completely alive He was also able to get folks to spill the beans and thereby capture the behind the scenes details of secret conversations between the justices and law clerks This book was a remarkably fast read That being said, I had one beef with this book and it was a big one In the middle of the book, Mandery details a crucial compromise worked out between Justice Stewart and Justice White It was a secret deal that ultimately led to the Supreme Court decision s to overturned Georgia s death penalty statute Unlike with other behind the scenes conversations, this time Mandery admits that the conversation was totally lost to history Neither justice ever repeated what was said about their deal Both have since passed on Nevertheless, Mandery then spends an entire chapter describing in elaborate detail exactly what the two justices said to each other For instance, Mandery tells us that, White told Stewart that he objected to the death penalty because states used it too infrequently to achieve any legitimate social goal Really How would he know what White told Stewart Wasn t it was lost to history There are no sources cited in the end notes to this portion of Mandery s book I can only imagine that this was purely speculative fiction on Mandery s part.Otherwise, I thought this book was a tour de force While I can t imagine anyone picking up this book who doesn t otherwise have an interest in either capital punishment or the U.S legal system in general, for those of us who do, this was a fantastic read Phenomenal book on the Supreme Court, which brings the personal relationships to light I did not know whether to feel inspired as it showed how human the Justices were, or depressed, as they used legal arguments to justify their personal decisions TheI read about the Supreme Court, thethe decisions they make seem influenced by some mayfactors than we outsiders can imagine.Great book for politicos, Mandrey makes the drama work well through out His coverage of the characters i Phenomenal book on the Supreme Court, which brings the personal relationships to light I did not know whether to feel inspired as it showed how human the Justices were, or depressed, as they used legal arguments to justify their personal decisions TheI read about the Supreme Court, thethe decisions they make seem influenced by some mayfactors than we outsiders can imagine.Great book for politicos, Mandrey makes the drama work well through out His coverage of the characters is fascinating, and deep A dense read that delved into the histories and experiences that shaped the key stakeholders justices, litigators, researchers in coming to their positions on capital punishment A fascinating look into how law comes closely into play with social, political, sociological, racial, and emotional issues hardly the black and white, but rather a multidimensional field of lobbying and strategy. A truly impactful narrative of the litigation leading up to Furman, the decision itself, and the conditions of the years between that and Gregg Remarkably readable. This is a fascinating, well written account of the most pivotal years in Supreme Court death penalty jurisprudence Mandery reveals the significant stakes of the questions under review, which stretch far beyond the narrow policy issue of whether capital punishment is good or bad To say that the book is thoroughly researched is a tremendous understatement Mandery has a wealth of primary sources and deploys them expertly He conveys relevant intellectual heritages as well as anecdotes informat This is a fascinating, well written account of the most pivotal years in Supreme Court death penalty jurisprudence Mandery reveals the significant stakes of the questions under review, which stretch far beyond the narrow policy issue of whether capital punishment is good or bad To say that the book is thoroughly researched is a tremendous understatement Mandery has a wealth of primary sources and deploys them expertly He conveys relevant intellectual heritages as well as anecdotes information about the Justices and lawyers personal lives, which illuminates the judicial proceedings This book will be highly relevant for my academic research, but I m glad to have read it for any number of other reasons as well.Minor criticisms 1 Norton needs better copy editing I noticed enough typos for it to become distracting 2 There are so many names and cases that in such a long, in depth book it s sometimes difficult to keep track of who s who and what s what The index of cases at the back is helpful, but not detailed enough 3 I guess the book is designed for a general audience, but I think footnotes would be really helpful The references in the back correspond to page numbers, but usually only direct quotes appear there Highly recommended long but worth it humanizing. This is a riveting story of a few short years when the Supreme Court came close to declaring the death penalty unconstitutional but the decision by a sharply divided court in Fuhrman that held that the Georgia statute rendered verdicts of death to be wanton and freakish and thus arbitrary did not last very long The issuance of this decision in 1972 may be seen as the last gasp of the liberal minded court which was transformed both by conservative appointments by Nixon and the backlash that Nixo This is a riveting story of a few short years when the Supreme Court came close to declaring the death penalty unconstitutional but the decision by a sharply divided court in Fuhrman that held that the Georgia statute rendered verdicts of death to be wanton and freakish and thus arbitrary did not last very long The issuance of this decision in 1972 may be seen as the last gasp of the liberal minded court which was transformed both by conservative appointments by Nixon and the backlash that Nixon personified The Decision prompted states to pass new death penalty statutes which in 1976 were generally upheld Gary Gil was the first too be executed 1300 others followed.The book deals with the Justices and their clerks as they struggled with what path to take and the advocates From Alan Dershowitz to the cadre of abolitionists lead by the brilliant Tony Amsterdam to the proponents including Robert Bork It is also fascinating to consider what would have happened if Goldberg had not been persuaded to step down by LBJ to become the UN ambassador or if his replacement Abe Fortas had not resigned in disgrace The death penalty may have been dealt a blow sooner and with adefinitive decision that could have stood longer as solid precedent And if justices Powell, Blackmun, and Stevens had converted to an anti death penalty stance early on rather than late in their tenures, history would have been different Blackmun would come around to write from this day forward, I no longer will tinker with the machinery of death I feel morally and intellectually obligated to concede that the death penalty has failed It is virtually self evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent deficiencies This book reads like a Grishom novel and gives you an appreciation of how some of the very best lawyers of the time battled to shape the law of Capitol punishment.Having been lead counsel in a death penalty habeas corpus case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, I thought I was fairly well versed but I learned so much from this book I only recommend this book to people who are very interested in the death penalty because the author nearly goes into every historical detail about it, especially when it comes to the background of the two cases being discussed. I am really interested in this topic and I heard the author on the radio He had some provocative points, so I picked up the book While the author knows his stuff, I got bored The first few pages seemed quite promising But after a while there were too many names, too many cases Mandery summarizes a case in two or three sentences, but knowing a lotthan his summary is important to understanding the arguments The author flips back and forth between cases, lawyers, and justices so frequen I am really interested in this topic and I heard the author on the radio He had some provocative points, so I picked up the book While the author knows his stuff, I got bored The first few pages seemed quite promising But after a while there were too many names, too many cases Mandery summarizes a case in two or three sentences, but knowing a lotthan his summary is important to understanding the arguments The author flips back and forth between cases, lawyers, and justices so frequently that it is dizzy ing I think one needs a deep foundational understanding to read this book and I mean deep I am a law school graduate The author is a law professor and aside from an occasional footnote, he seems to think that law students and seasoned attorneys are his audience There is not much of a policy debate or a discussion of the experiences of the actual criminals and victims of these crimes to balance the law and provide some perspective outside of the courtroom and judges chambers After 100 pages, the book felt like a chore After skimming the remainder of the book and seeing much of the same, I put it down for good

A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital
    A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital unlikely victory, the Supreme Court struck down Georgia s death penalty law in Furman v Georgia Though the decision had sharply divided the justices, nearly everyone, including the justices themselves, believed Furman would mean the end of executions in AmericaInstead, states responded with a swift and decisive showing of support for capital punishment As anxiety about crime rose and public approval of the Supreme Court declined, the stage was set infor Gregg v Georgia, in which the Court dramatically reversed directionA Wild Justice is an extraordinary behind the scenes look at the Court, the justices, and the political complexities of one of the most racially charged and morally vexing issues of our time. My first job out of law school was as a clerk for a state court of general jurisdiction In the legal world, a law clerk is usually a younger attorney, fresh out of law school, who for some inverted reason gives advice and counsel to a judge with far greater experience In that role, I got to participate in that rarest of legal proceedings a capital murder case From various vantage points in open court, in the judge s chambers, listening to the sidebars, eventually in my dreams , I was th My first job out of law school was as a clerk for a state court of general jurisdiction In the legal world, a law clerk is usually a younger attorney, fresh out of law school, who for some inverted reason gives advice and counsel to a judge with far greater experience In that role, I got to participate in that rarest of legal proceedings a capital murder case From various vantage points in open court, in the judge s chambers, listening to the sidebars, eventually in my dreams , I was there for the whole arduous process, from the first pretrial motions to the final order sentencing the defendant to death It was, to put it mildly, an experience Thus, I read Evan Mandery s A Wild Justice with quite a bit of professional interest It should be noted that by professional, I mean functionally alcoholic A Wild Justice covers the period in American history when capital punishment itself seemed to die, slain by zealous attorneys and an acquiescent Supreme Court, only to be reborn within a matter of years, risen from the dead like an archaic jurisprudential zombie It is not, to be clear, a simple story A Wild Justice is not written for specialists It is not even written for average attorneys with an over fondness for Yellow Tail wine It is written for lay people, complete with asterisks next to legal terms of art, which are defined at the bottom of the page Still, legal opinions are often tricky at best United States Supreme Court opinions are the trickiest of legal opinions And the Supreme Court s handling of the death penalty cases from 1972 1976 present one of the most complex, mystifying runs in Court history Generally, great weight is given to precedential authority, a dictum known as stare decisis During this period, the Court overrode itself twice in a matter of four years Mandery begins his story in 1962, when Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and his clerk Allan Dershowitz, came to the conclusion that the death penalty violated the 8th Amendment s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment Dershowitz helped Goldberg pen an internal memorandum for the Court s consumption Later, he published a dissent from the Court s denial of certiorari in Rudolph v Alabama the denial from cert meant that the Supreme Court wouldn t hear the case arguing that the Court should take up the matter of capital punishment s constitutionality Goldberg specifically challenged the imposition of the death penalty for rape cases however, his framing of the questions essentially provided a blueprint for enterprising civil rights attorneys to follow in attempting to strike the death penalty completely A small band of lawyers, led by Anthony Amsterdam of the Legal Defense Fund LDF took Goldberg up on his offer The LDF, which had been called the most important law firm in America, rose to prominence in the capital punishment field because the ACLU refused to view the matter as a civil rights issue The LDF had won several monumental legal victories, including the most famous Supreme Court of all Brown v The Board of Education The LDF s interest in capital punishment came from the disproportionate way in which it was applied In other words, it fell heavily on the poor and minorities and fell especially hard if the poor or minority person had perpetrated against a white person The attorney handling capital punishment for LDF was Tony Amsterdam Though Manderly politely refrains from taking a legal policy position on capital punishmenton that in a moment , Amsterdam is clearly the hero of this story The sling wielding David against the Goliath of entrenched legal historical reality of the death penalty If LDF was the most important law firm in the United States, Tony Amsterdam was surely the most important individual lawyer No other attorney in American history has had such a profound influence on civil rights issues In addition to playing a role in every major Supreme Court death penalty case argued since 1965, Amsterdam won important victories limiting the ability of police officers to stop and frisk suspects, protecting free speech, and in defense of the civil rights of the Black Panther Bobby Seale He argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court, once three in a single week.Amsterdam and LDF broke through, briefly, with a case called Furman v Georgia, involving the murder of a man during a home invasion robbery There were two other companion cases plus a third that went moot but I ll ignore them in order to avoid further muddying the waters of this legal Mississippi In Furman, a sharply divided Supreme Court held the death penalty unconstitutional in the cases before it The Furman case is an absolute mess to read I know because I read it The crux of the decision is a brief, 5 4 per curiam opinion meaning that no one Justice takes authorial credit finding the death penalty in the Furman trilogy unconstitutional Then there are nine 9 separate opinions each explaining what the individual Justice believed the state of the law to be None of the majority justices agreed with each other as to why the death penalty was unconstitutional The result was a 66,000 word monstrosity with no controlling holding I still remember the baleful glare of the librarian when I printed off Furman in the law library That printer printed for what felt like an hour The upshot of Furman was a four year moratorium on the death penalty while State legislatures tried to figure out what the opinion meant while crafting new capital punishment statutes Those new laws were tested in Gregg v Georgia along with four companion cases , in which the Supreme Court, in a slightly less byzantine manner, reaffirmed the ultimate constitutionality of the death penalty, while providingmeaningful guidelines for its imposition In the short run, the moratorium hurt as much as it helped Unlike Prohibition and the Volstead Act, which failed as a law but ultimately reduced the consumption of alcohol, the brief death penalty restriction unleashed a wave of executions and a surge in its popularity On the bright side thinking as a human being, not just a lawyer important guidelines and protections were put in place Eventually, the Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment for rape Coker v Georgia , for the legally insane Ford v Wainwright , for the mentally retarded Atkins v Virginia, for minors Roper v Simmons , and eventually for any crime short of murder Kennedy v Louisiana though crimes against the State, i.e espionage, are excepted Manderly guides you through this tortured legal history using a hybrid narrative analysis approach He sets up certain scenes, and tells certain arcs, as though it were a Grisham novel At other points, however, he stops for legal historical analysis This can sometimes be confusing, as it requires Manderly to jump forward and backward in time At certain points, he ll name drop a case before explaining its relevance To this end, a short summary of pertinent cases is helpfully included in the back of the book along with some very interesting endnotes that are also worth a look for the way they continue certain discussions not contained in the text For me, A Wild Justice started rather slow Despite being the torch bearer of the movement, Manderly s characterization of Tony Amsterdam is too flattering and one dimensional and a bit worshipful.The book hits its stride when it comes to the actual deliberations and inner workings of the Supreme Court I don t want to oversell this book, but the Court centric chapters are the best accounts of the Court I ve read since The Brethren shed light on the Burger Court A glance at the acknowledgements shows why Manderly has gotten incredible access to those surviving players mostly law clerks who were there Indeed, it seems only Warren Burger s clerks refused to talk, due to some odd oath they took to one of the Court sduplicitous and intellectually lacking members I would go so far as to say that the chapter on Byron Whizzer White was almost worth cover price That s an obvious exaggeration Nothing in any book is ever worth today s inflated cover price The beginning of understanding Byron White thus is to understand that he didn t want to be understood David Frederick, a former White clerk said, Being non ideological and non doctrinaire was clearly very important to White, just as was being his own person and not worrying about his place in history Another clerk said White s judicial philosophy is best found in the elusive originality embedded in the particular White took realism s skepticism regarding classification to a different level His attempt to defy all labels, schools, and intellectual boxes was a conscious effort to remain unpredictable.Mandery is a law professor who formerly worked as a capital defense attorney Accordingly, one might pick this up thinking it s a polemic That s just the case This is a generally unbiased book save for his view of Tony Amsterdam that isn t really trying to make an argument for or against capital punishment So, because I can, I ll go ahead an make the argument that Mandery neglects Is the death penalty unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment No, it s pretty clearly not I m not a strict constructionist by any means, since I lack Scalia s miraculous ability to divine the intent of dozens of different Constitutional framers Yet it is quite obvious that capital punishment existed at the time the Constitution was written, ergo, the it s equally as plain that the 8th Amendment didn t exist to strike those punishments down However, I think there is an argument which the Supreme Court has disagreed with that capital punishment is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment s equal protection clause, on an as applied basis, as the death penalty is grossly arbitrary in its application Especially with regards to race Do I think the death penalty is wrong, constitutionality aside Yes resoundingly Deterrence There has never been a study showing that the death penalty acts as a deterrent This has been shown empirically, though numbers can t show why Intuitively, though, this lack of a deterrent effect makes sense I ve been around a lot of criminal defendants, and foresight and planning are not among their strong suits Very few people commit crimes thinking about the consequences.Recidivism But the death penalty keeps dangerous people off the street Please There are a shocking 10,000 people in the United States the largest prison in the world serving sentences of life without parole for nonviolent offenses Prisoners convicted of capital crimes can just as easily be kept off the streets with LWOP sentences In most states, even a conviction for second degree murder coupled with a use charge means you re leaving prison on a gurney, with a sheet over your head.Economics Often in the death penalty debate, you hear the I don t want to pay for these guys argument Meaning, of course, that it s cheaper to kill em than house em Not so It costs less to house a person in the general population than it does on death row Respect for the State Killing a person is a homicide When the State does it under the law, it is justified, it is sanctioned, but it is still a homicide For the government of the people, by the people, for the people to be killing its citizens promotes disrespect for the State The State knows this, which is why executions are clothed in secrecy, carried out in private, and why State legislatures are passing obnoxious secrecy laws about the mechanisms of death If you want to execute, do it in the open, where we all can see Afterwards, we all can vote Dehumanization The death penalty is a dehumanizing process for everyone involved I know this from personal experience, from watching it close up Deciding who lives and who dies involves terrible comparisons that require judges and juries to weigh one crime against another, one victim against another In this calculus, child victims trump adults female victims trump male victims you get to the point where you re trying to decide whether a murder is especially heinous or cruel when murder, by its very nature, is always heinous or cruel And then there s the people who have to carry it out There s a reason executioners used to hide their faces It s not because they re proud of what they do Prison is not a joke I don t know why people think prison is getting off easy Prison sucks I ve been inside them But you don t have to visit or get convicted of a felony to see this Just watch Lockup Raw on MSNBC It s how I spend many Saturdays Gary Gil, the first man executed after the post Gregg moratorium ended, wanted to die He wanted to die quite badly Because he hated prison The lights are always on It s loud You have no privacy The food is terrible You are always being counted You can t go anywhere without constant restriction The whole universe of pleasures from a walk in the mountains to a day by the lake to a hamburger on a grill to a beer on your patio to heterosexual sex are gone forever, the memories of things you ll never see again in this life That is one hell of a punishment, if you ask me Victim shifting Finally, the death penalty changes the focus of these crimes One thing I noticed in this book is that the crimes are barely described This probably wasn t intentional, but its emblematic of this truth capital punishment keeps killers in the news, in our consciousness, while we forget the people they killed We recall the names of Furman and Gregg, but we don t think at all about who they slaughtered By the time we get around to killing these cons, they re older and different men When the State puts them to death, they re suddenly the victims, the ones remembered, and that s not the way it should be.Killing, unfortunately, is firmly within human nature It is part of mankind s limitless abilities That ability can as in war be legally justified I do not believe, however, that the question begins and ends with our ability to kill, or with our ability to justify the act It extends to the question of choosing who deserves their continued and existence, and who does not Back when I was working on that capital case, I also happened to be reading Orwell and abusing NyQuill One night, I had a profoundly vivid dream A talking pig, dressed in a suit, approached me in the Courthouse and said It is very arrogant of you to think you know what you think you know That talking pig was right The wisdom to decide who lives and dies, I m quite sure, eludes every person on this earth When I was in law school, I read in passing that the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in the mid 1970 s, but then reintroduced it just a few years later I recall thinking, Something must have happened I didn t investigate further at the time, and yet the question always stayed with me What exactly happened in those few years that s now generally forgotten to history Evan Mandery s book answered that question and then some It turns out A LOT happened in those years The twists a When I was in law school, I read in passing that the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in the mid 1970 s, but then reintroduced it just a few years later I recall thinking, Something must have happened I didn t investigate further at the time, and yet the question always stayed with me What exactly happened in those few years that s now generally forgotten to history Evan Mandery s book answered that question and then some It turns out A LOT happened in those years The twists and turns that led to the Supreme Court first striking down capital punishment only to resurrect it a few years later was indeed wild And the human beings that actually tried and decided these cases the justices, lawyers, and law clerks take center stage in this book Mandery is a really good writer This book was a page turner in the mold of a John Grisham novel Mandery takes what can be a dry topic Supreme Court jurisprudence and turns it completely alive He was also able to get folks to spill the beans and thereby capture the behind the scenes details of secret conversations between the justices and law clerks This book was a remarkably fast read That being said, I had one beef with this book and it was a big one In the middle of the book, Mandery details a crucial compromise worked out between Justice Stewart and Justice White It was a secret deal that ultimately led to the Supreme Court decision s to overturned Georgia s death penalty statute Unlike with other behind the scenes conversations, this time Mandery admits that the conversation was totally lost to history Neither justice ever repeated what was said about their deal Both have since passed on Nevertheless, Mandery then spends an entire chapter describing in elaborate detail exactly what the two justices said to each other For instance, Mandery tells us that, White told Stewart that he objected to the death penalty because states used it too infrequently to achieve any legitimate social goal Really How would he know what White told Stewart Wasn t it was lost to history There are no sources cited in the end notes to this portion of Mandery s book I can only imagine that this was purely speculative fiction on Mandery s part.Otherwise, I thought this book was a tour de force While I can t imagine anyone picking up this book who doesn t otherwise have an interest in either capital punishment or the U.S legal system in general, for those of us who do, this was a fantastic read Phenomenal book on the Supreme Court, which brings the personal relationships to light I did not know whether to feel inspired as it showed how human the Justices were, or depressed, as they used legal arguments to justify their personal decisions TheI read about the Supreme Court, thethe decisions they make seem influenced by some mayfactors than we outsiders can imagine.Great book for politicos, Mandrey makes the drama work well through out His coverage of the characters i Phenomenal book on the Supreme Court, which brings the personal relationships to light I did not know whether to feel inspired as it showed how human the Justices were, or depressed, as they used legal arguments to justify their personal decisions TheI read about the Supreme Court, thethe decisions they make seem influenced by some mayfactors than we outsiders can imagine.Great book for politicos, Mandrey makes the drama work well through out His coverage of the characters is fascinating, and deep A dense read that delved into the histories and experiences that shaped the key stakeholders justices, litigators, researchers in coming to their positions on capital punishment A fascinating look into how law comes closely into play with social, political, sociological, racial, and emotional issues hardly the black and white, but rather a multidimensional field of lobbying and strategy. A truly impactful narrative of the litigation leading up to Furman, the decision itself, and the conditions of the years between that and Gregg Remarkably readable. This is a fascinating, well written account of the most pivotal years in Supreme Court death penalty jurisprudence Mandery reveals the significant stakes of the questions under review, which stretch far beyond the narrow policy issue of whether capital punishment is good or bad To say that the book is thoroughly researched is a tremendous understatement Mandery has a wealth of primary sources and deploys them expertly He conveys relevant intellectual heritages as well as anecdotes informat This is a fascinating, well written account of the most pivotal years in Supreme Court death penalty jurisprudence Mandery reveals the significant stakes of the questions under review, which stretch far beyond the narrow policy issue of whether capital punishment is good or bad To say that the book is thoroughly researched is a tremendous understatement Mandery has a wealth of primary sources and deploys them expertly He conveys relevant intellectual heritages as well as anecdotes information about the Justices and lawyers personal lives, which illuminates the judicial proceedings This book will be highly relevant for my academic research, but I m glad to have read it for any number of other reasons as well.Minor criticisms 1 Norton needs better copy editing I noticed enough typos for it to become distracting 2 There are so many names and cases that in such a long, in depth book it s sometimes difficult to keep track of who s who and what s what The index of cases at the back is helpful, but not detailed enough 3 I guess the book is designed for a general audience, but I think footnotes would be really helpful The references in the back correspond to page numbers, but usually only direct quotes appear there Highly recommended long but worth it humanizing. This is a riveting story of a few short years when the Supreme Court came close to declaring the death penalty unconstitutional but the decision by a sharply divided court in Fuhrman that held that the Georgia statute rendered verdicts of death to be wanton and freakish and thus arbitrary did not last very long The issuance of this decision in 1972 may be seen as the last gasp of the liberal minded court which was transformed both by conservative appointments by Nixon and the backlash that Nixo This is a riveting story of a few short years when the Supreme Court came close to declaring the death penalty unconstitutional but the decision by a sharply divided court in Fuhrman that held that the Georgia statute rendered verdicts of death to be wanton and freakish and thus arbitrary did not last very long The issuance of this decision in 1972 may be seen as the last gasp of the liberal minded court which was transformed both by conservative appointments by Nixon and the backlash that Nixon personified The Decision prompted states to pass new death penalty statutes which in 1976 were generally upheld Gary Gil was the first too be executed 1300 others followed.The book deals with the Justices and their clerks as they struggled with what path to take and the advocates From Alan Dershowitz to the cadre of abolitionists lead by the brilliant Tony Amsterdam to the proponents including Robert Bork It is also fascinating to consider what would have happened if Goldberg had not been persuaded to step down by LBJ to become the UN ambassador or if his replacement Abe Fortas had not resigned in disgrace The death penalty may have been dealt a blow sooner and with adefinitive decision that could have stood longer as solid precedent And if justices Powell, Blackmun, and Stevens had converted to an anti death penalty stance early on rather than late in their tenures, history would have been different Blackmun would come around to write from this day forward, I no longer will tinker with the machinery of death I feel morally and intellectually obligated to concede that the death penalty has failed It is virtually self evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent deficiencies This book reads like a Grishom novel and gives you an appreciation of how some of the very best lawyers of the time battled to shape the law of Capitol punishment.Having been lead counsel in a death penalty habeas corpus case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, I thought I was fairly well versed but I learned so much from this book I only recommend this book to people who are very interested in the death penalty because the author nearly goes into every historical detail about it, especially when it comes to the background of the two cases being discussed. I am really interested in this topic and I heard the author on the radio He had some provocative points, so I picked up the book While the author knows his stuff, I got bored The first few pages seemed quite promising But after a while there were too many names, too many cases Mandery summarizes a case in two or three sentences, but knowing a lotthan his summary is important to understanding the arguments The author flips back and forth between cases, lawyers, and justices so frequen I am really interested in this topic and I heard the author on the radio He had some provocative points, so I picked up the book While the author knows his stuff, I got bored The first few pages seemed quite promising But after a while there were too many names, too many cases Mandery summarizes a case in two or three sentences, but knowing a lotthan his summary is important to understanding the arguments The author flips back and forth between cases, lawyers, and justices so frequently that it is dizzy ing I think one needs a deep foundational understanding to read this book and I mean deep I am a law school graduate The author is a law professor and aside from an occasional footnote, he seems to think that law students and seasoned attorneys are his audience There is not much of a policy debate or a discussion of the experiences of the actual criminals and victims of these crimes to balance the law and provide some perspective outside of the courtroom and judges chambers After 100 pages, the book felt like a chore After skimming the remainder of the book and seeing much of the same, I put it down for good "/>
  • Hardcover
  • 544 pages
  • A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America
  • Evan Mandery
  • English
  • 09 September 2019
  • 0393239586