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Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer Hardcover – January 5, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607144344
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607144342
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Andrea D. Lyon is Director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases and Clinical Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs, at DePaul University College of Law. She began her career at the Cook County Public Defenders' Office, working her way up to Chief of the Homicide Task Force, a 22-lawyer unit that represents people accused of homicide.

Lyon has tried more than 130 homicide cases, both within the public defender's office and elsewhere. She has defended more than 30 potential capital cases at the trial level. Of these, she has taken 19 through the penalty phase, and won them all. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.


More About the Author

Andrea Lyon was appointed as Dean of Valparaiso University Law School in July of 2014. She is thrilled to be at the helm at this time of needed change in legal education. Valparaiso University is a leader in curriculum reform and embracing diversity. Formerly, she was a clinical professor of law, associate dean of Clinical Programs, and director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases. Lyon received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and her law degree from Antioch School of Law. After graduating, she worked for the Cook County Public Defenders' Office in the felony trial division, post-conviction/habeas corpus unit, preliminary hearing/first municipal (misdemeanor) unit and the appeals division. Her last position there was chief of the Homicide Task Force, a 22-lawyer unit representing persons accused of homicides. She has tried over 130 homicide cases, both while in the Public Defender's Office and since. She has defended more than 30 potential capital cases at the trial level and has taken 19 through penalty phase; she won all 19. In 1990, she founded the Illinois Capital Resource Center and served as its director until joining the University of Michigan Law School faculty as an assistant clinical professor in 1995. A winner of the prestigious National Legal Aid and Defender Association's Reginald Heber Smith Award for best advocate for the poor in the country, she is a nationally recognized expert in the field of death penalty defense and a frequent continuing legal education teacher throughout the country.

Customer Reviews

Personally, I would love a chance to meet Andrea Lyon.
Ellen Warren
Ms. Lyon gives real insight to the life of a death qualified criminal defense lawyer.
John E. Swisher
This book is easy to understand, not full of complicated legal terminology.
Elizabeth Warren

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Tara VINE VOICE on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always been for the death penalty, but after reading this book, I no longer see it as such a quick solution to America's crime rate. My eyes have been opened to a surprising world of corruption hiding behind the law. Innocent people get wrongly accused and underdogs (minorities and people of low financial means) often fail to get their side of the story heard. Wealth and social status play too large a role in determining who lives behind bars and who merely pays a fine.

Ms. Lyon begins her tale with a brief look at her childhood and her aspirations and how she became a D.A. Her cases over fourteen years include battered wives, ex police officers, a man that wanted the death penalty in hopes it would ban divorce in the long run, a gang member possibly mis identified in a line up, an innocent man that spent four years in jail anyway, a pcp murderer, and more. To top that off, Ms. Lyon also had to deal with prejudice judges not only making comments about her sex, but also about her weight.

A major issue under scrutiny throughout the book is racism and how race determines one's treatment in court and how judges, lawyers, and jurors often cannot see behind the skin tone.

An amazing woman with an amazing career to tell about. I liked how gutsy Ms. Lyon was towards many a sexist judge. I also liked how she kept her personal life to minimum and did not overburden readers with too much personal details. You know she is having a baby and going thru a tough relationship, but there is no lurid details or word for word conversations.

Great book. I plan on reading it again one day.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Susan on January 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have always been on the fence about the death penalty, but the gripping true stories in Angel of Death Row gave me fascinating new insights into the lives of those incarcerated. Andrea Lyon is a courageous and brilliant lawyer, who tells these tales with honesty and compassion but also with objectivity. I took Angel of Death Row with me wherever I went until I finished it. I would love to read more stories like these and learn even more about the author.
It's disconcerting that 1-star reviews were posted by those who seem to want only to rant about their beliefs in the death penalty.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark Franklin on January 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have been a supporter of the death penalty for many years. I use to have a Bushism mentality "We're going to kill'em" if they did the crime. However, I also believe in our Constitution by which as a country we are bound by for better or worse.

When I read this book I got a great insight into the world of the criminal justice system.
I have experience partnering with Law Enforcement over many years and understand the frustrations they have. But now I have an understanding of the other side of the justice system. The author takes you on a journey through her experience and sheds light on how unbalanced the death penalty is given out amongst certain groups of people. She also educates you on the real stories behind these people who are on death row. You will be stunned at how these people get to death row. You should leave your preconceived ideas at the door because your going to be shocked.

Whether or not you have an opinion on the Death Penalty you will enjoy the experience of this book. Put it at the top of your MUST READ list for 2010.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book written in a personal style. It was engaging and informative.

While it's obvious from the title what the author's stance is on the death penalty, I think even if you are for the death penalty you won't find this book propagandistic. What comes through to me is that the author is telling us about her experiences in defending people who are on death row.

If it were propagandistic, it would probably paint prosecutors and/or judges in a negative light. Actually, some of them are painted that way and we can understand why when we see what they did. But others are portrayed as competent, caring people who are on the other side. The job they are doing is essential, and it benefits society. From the author's perspective, it seems that competent prosecutors are the majority and they share her conviction that the accused deserve a rigorous defense. The problem is that not all prosecutors share that conviction and not all defense attorneys do either.

The author does not, as some have indicated, seem to think that we should let violent criminals get away with their crimes. In fact, her view is the opposite. When an innocent person is convicted of a crime, the one who did it gets away. Execution exacerbates this problem.

Traditionally, opinions on the death penalty have been based on opinion. Increasingly, people are changing their opinions based on the facts. I did that, myself (see Background, after the review).

Review

I was a bit alarmed to see the foreword was by Alan Dershowitz. After reading several of his articles some years ago, I concluded he should not be writing articles. So, I skipped the foreword because I have no desire to read anything he says.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Asbell on January 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Andrea Lyon's biography sheds a vivid light on a seldom seen side of the criminal justice system and immerses the reader in a world where members of our society are forced to prove their right to live in front of a jury of their peers. Make no mistake, more often than not Mrs. Lyon is simply fighting for a client's right to spend the rest of their life in prison rather then trying to earn them an acquittal, and she does a good job of pushing a message that some of even the most terrible human beings still have some potential value worth preserving. More of a retelling and reflection of selected cases than a personal biography, I highly recommend Angel of Death Row to anyone who's interested in the most extreme and complex examples of capital trials and the compelling moral questions they bring to the table.
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