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With Malice Aforethought Kindle Edition
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Grippo's chronology of the crimes that S&V were later framed for is better than many other published accounts. His lawyerly - yet lively - alibi defense is persuasive, and, I would argue, conclusive. His indictment of prosecutors, judge, and, yes, defense counsel, is supported by fresh documentary evidence as well as transcripts from the case. But what might be most dispiriting for those of us who cling to a belief in the jury system's sound stewardship of justice, is the seething bigotry among the S&V jurors. That such citizens were permitted to sit in judgment of the two activist immigrants is only slightly more shameful than the unblinking acceptance in the Jazz Age of such hateful attitudes.
Grippo's obvious outrage in the great miscarriage of justice meted out to S&V is conveyed not through screed or tirade, but by a surgical exposure of facts, which are all the more outrageous for their meticulous verification and unquestionable accuracy.
If Grippo takes a step too far, it may be in the latter couple of chapters, where his clearly labeled opinion takes voice and interprets the objective facts in a way that attempts to explain the motivation behind the frame-up. Here, I think vast incompetence mixed with corrosive bigotry and xenophobia, with a healthy dose of anti-anarchist terror (eerily reminiscent of the anti-Muslim filth that infects our institutions today) explains the unjust executions of two innocent immigrants. Grippo's elaborate conspiracy theories didn't fully convince me, but he backed up his argument with the same investigative diligence that characterizes this whole excellent volume.
Scrupulously researched and powerfully written, Ted Grippo's addition to the S&V canon is a delight to read, even if the desecration of justice remains just as enraging. A top-shelf read.
This book is a wonderful overview of the case and the trial proceedings - including the appeals. Upon reading this book, there is no doubt that Sacco and Venzetti did not get a fair trial. The Judge that presided over Venzetti's trial regarding the Bridgewater hold up was the same Judge for the murder trial. Judge Thayer was a known anarchist hater and one that hated Italians. Put the two together, Italian Anarchists, then you have passion that knows no bounds. What makes this case worse is that you also have a prosecuting attorney, Katzmann, who does not like Italians and was looking to make a name for him politically. Katzmann had so much ambition that he covered up evidence, failed to turn over evidence that exonerated Sacco and Venzetti, knew his witnesses were lying on the stand, and performed harassing, improper cross-examinations. Now, I will say that the defense lawyers for Sacco and Venzetti did not do them any favors but it was not the reason they lost the case.
This book provides a wonderful view of the times at which the trials were held. It was just after WWI and the Red scare was going on in the United States. There were also many demonstrations and bombings by anarchists and Sacco and Venzetti were known anarchists. The stage was set for one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history. Mr. Grippo provides a very clear map of how the cases and the setting of the time intertwined. With an all-male, New England Yankee jury, Sacco and Venzetti had no chance. For instance, Venzetti had witnesses testify that he was delivering fish the day of the crimes. Sacco had witnesses that demonstrated clearly that he was in Boston on the day of the crimes. However, because of improper, harassing cross-examinations, as well as most of them being Italian, the jury disregarded every witness. The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrated reasonable doubt. What was particularly interesting was the issue regarding bullet III and the switching of the gun barrels. You will need to read the book to understand the issues but it clearly demonstrates that Sacco was framed.
Mr. Grippo then sets the stage for the appeal process and the clemency process - all of which were denied. He also tells the story of the five motions for new trial based upon new evidence and some witnesses changing their story. What also come out was that the prosecution put much pressure on these witnesses to identify Sacco and Venzetti as the criminals even if they did not believe it. The one issue that upset me the most was that there was a motion for a new trial based upon the Judge's bias because of statements he made during the trial but outside the courtroom. However, the problem was the Judge that ruled on that motion was Judge Thayer himself. How can this be? How can one be the judge about one's own bias? This just screams due process violation under the 14th Amendment and that alone was enough for a new trial.
By the end, it is clear that Sacco and Venzetti should have been found not guilty. I am not saying that they were not part of the crime, but I am saying that they did not get a fair trial and that the weight of the evidence leans towards acquittal. If these events were to happen today, the judge and prosecutor would be disbarred and maybe even brought up on criminal charges and civil rights violations.
If you don't want to get into the nuts and bolts of this case, this is a wonderful book. If you do want get into the nuts and bolts of the case, this is a great book to begin with as it will provides a wonderful overview of the case.