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Defending the Damned: Inside a Dark Corner of the Criminal Justice System Paperback – September 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Stunningly real and poetically unromantic, Defending the Damned delivers us into a world of accused monsters and the complex souls who have sworn to stand by them. Davis's subjects trust him -- an astonishing result in a part of Chicago where trust disappears first -- and he hears everything they say." -- Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers
"In his remarkable narrative, Kevin Davis uncovers the true heroes of the court system. This is one of those rare books that will change your mind about lawyers." -- Gerry Spence, bestselling author of How to Argue and Win Every Time
"With a true journalist's reverence for truth and accuracy, Kevin Davis presents a raw and real version of the way our legal system works from a side that rarely comes into the light, but one our democracy cannot survive without." -- Jonathon King, Edgar Award-winning crime novelist and author of Eye of Vengeance
"Kevin Davis brings the reader into Chicago's courtrooms and into the lives of the lawyers who handle the criminal justice system's toughest cases. Defending the Damned reads like a fast-paced novel but delivers with realism and compassion a compelling, insider's look into capital murder trials." -- Alafair Burke, author of Close Case
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Top Customer Reviews
Davis takes us deep into a world that the vast majority of us will thankfully never have the opportunity to experience directly. It is the world of those who labor on the Murder Task Force of the Cook County [Illinois] Public Defender's Office. Here a small group of men and women, lawyers investigators and others, daily protect the legal rights of some of the foulest creatures to walk the face of the earrh. A mother who cuts up the corpse of her freshly murdered infant and deep-fries the parts. A man who gets his natural daughter pregnant and than beats her to death.
As one of the lawyers asks "How do you come home and explain that you just saved the life of a serial killer who smoked crack and murdered three women?"
Kevin Davis does an incredible job of explaining just that. He profiles several of the lawyers and their helpers who fighr every day to protect the legal rights of the accused - - - an incredibly important job that few people appreciate - - - and then try to keep the state from executing those of their clients who are found guilty of murder.
I am a proponent of capital punishment: those who murder deserve to die in return. It is only just. But I have a caveat: capital punishment should only be imposed when the accused has received a truly full and impartial trial, represented by highly competent counsel and provided with all the resources so readily available to the state, such as expert witnesses.Read more ›
While at a particularly gruesome murder trial, Davis became gripped by the question of "how [the public defender] and her...colleagues were able to represent clients accused of such horrible crimes day after day, year after year, while keeping a safe emotional distance and preserving their sanity." He got into the position of being able to witness how they did this by being given unprecedented access to the attorneys, related personnel, and activity of the Cook County Public Defender's Office. And he availed himself as much as possible to relevant public documents and conducted interviews with both relatives of victims and the accused, among others.
A central figure is the public defender Marijane Placek, "fifty-four years old [with] bobbed hair...dyed golden blond with streaked highlights" given to wearing "snakeskin cowboy boots...when she wanted to look like a gunslinger." Placek is the lead public defender in the case of the murder of an undercover police officer--a case which allows Davis to give much attention also to the prosecutors and the police which are other necessary parts of the criminal justice system.Read more ›
Public defenders, like their counterparts in Chicago the assistant state attorneys, log more time in criminal courtrooms in their first few years than many lawyers log in their entire lives. It is a highly specialized field of law focusing on defending people who lack the means to provide legal defense for themselves financially. The job requires a strong BS detector, empathy, a strong desire to win all surrounded by the knowledge that often you won't. Reading and following some of the best and most experienced both provides amazing insight into what this is like and shows the difficulty of this job.
The only part of the book I didn't enjoy, which I think is a natural side effect of the author working so closely with public defenders, is the cartoon-like depiction of prosecutors. Presented by the author as without emotion, you can't help but feel that the author is manipulating you a bit to come to his conclusion on who the good guys are here. That being said, still an amazing book with excellent research and well worth your time even if your only exposure to criminal justice is Law and Order.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This 2007 book tells of the work of the public defender's office in Chicago. Much of the book tells of the defense afforded to Aloysius Oliver, who is accused of killing a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Schmerguls
One of the most exhilarating books I have ever read. I could not stop reading. A great insight on the Cook County Public Defender's Office.Published 20 months ago by valerie barajas
Since I do this for a living its surprising I even wanted to read this. Everyone needs a break however I found this to be a welcome read. Read morePublished on February 28, 2014 by Amazon Customer
This is a first rate book. Well written and informative. After I read it I loaned it out to friends with the promise that they return it. It's a keeper.Published on August 9, 2013 by Milo E. Whitson
Poorly written, sloppy and disgusting. Half way through the book I couldn't take anymore. I skimmed through the last half.Published on June 13, 2013 by Howard Moore
Still haven't finished it but this is an amazing book for anyone interested in law. I would recommend this book for sure!Published on June 7, 2013 by Dylan
I really liked the book; becuase it told the truth about how people, especialy in Cook County are convicted, wrongfully.Published on May 26, 2013 by Brian J. Vicker
What a great book! I was a public defender in a neighboring county for years. I actually know almost all of the lawyers that were discussed in this book. Read morePublished on February 17, 2013 by Thomas E. Ost