CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 2, 2005

New CrimProf Books on Capital Punishment

From the DPIC:

Scott Sundby's new book, "A Life and Death Decision: A Jury Weighs the Death Penalty" is an impartial look at capital jury deliberations through the examination of data collected by the Capital Jury Project and other studies of group decision-making.  Drawing on the Capital Jury Project's interviews with more than 1,000 jurors from across the country who had taken part in death penalty cases, the book addresses crucial issues such as jury instructions, jury room setup, and voir dire procedures. While focusing on a single case, Sundby also sheds light on broader issues, including the roles of race, class, and gender in the justice system.  (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Executed on a Technicality: Lethal Injustice on America's Death Row, by Professor David Dow, is a behind-the-scenes look at the death penalty through the lens of an attorney who formerly supported capital punishment. Dow, who teaches at the University of Houston Law Center and founded the Texas Innocence Network, provides case histories illustrating serious flaws in the death penalty system. He uses these cases to guide readers through a web of coerced confessions, incompetent representation, racist juries, and unfair judges, all of which he believes contribute to the arbitrariness of capital punishment.  In many cases, obscure technicalities in the law prevented courts and juries from hearing evidence that would have prevented an execution or a death sentence. Dow relates the case of one man who was executed because the jury never heard from two eyewitnesses who swore he was not the murderer. In another case, a man was allowed to represent himself despite the fact that his mental imbalance - as evidenced by his attempts to issue a subpoena to Jesus Christ and dressing as a cowboy during the trial - was obvious. (Beacon Press, April 2005).   [Mark Godsey]

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