[E–pub Download] Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption AUTHOR Bryan Stevenson
Black Bottom Stomp uChildren as a Guardian Ad Litem and Adults charged with Criminal Offenses The years finally took their toll I am thankfully retired The Eual Justice Initiative Office is only ninety odd miles away I owe Bryan Stevenson a vist Maybe a little volunteer work Alabama s Electric Chair currently stored in the attic of Holman Prison Sunday Morning Coming Down a Reader s Reflection I m having a mostnusual Sunday morning I m listening to the music of Dale Watson led there while contemplating Capital Punishment I m having a cup of coffee I ve been thinking A lotReading takes you on strange journeys Yellow Mama was the name given to Alabama s Electric Chair Although the Alabama Legislature had authorized death by electrocution in 1923 there was no way to carry out that sentence Geographies, Mobilities, and Rhythms over the Life-Course until 1927 Kilby Prison 1922 1969 Montgomery County Alabama Alabama needed a way to electrocute Horace DeVaughan for a double murder committed in Birmingham Inmate Ed Mason an English cabinet maker by trade who was serving 60 years for theft and grand larceny built Yellow Mama The chair was painted with yellow paint from the nearby Highway Department The same paintsed to paint lane indicators on State roads The inmates named the new chairWhile well built the chair didn t work too well On April 8 1927 Horace DeVaughn was the first human being to experience riding the lightning It was a long ride He prayed to Jesus for hours beforehand and accepted no food drink or cigarettes on the night of the execution In his final statement he expressed that he had been forgiven and had no hard feelings toward anyone and asked for someone to tell his mother goodbye and that his soul was saved DeVaughan Tempting Kate (Regency Quartet, underwent three 2000 volt discharges between 1231 and 1242 AM At the first 40 second jolt his body surged forward a thin gray smoke flowed fromnder the electrode over his head and the odor of burning flesh was apparent After the second discharge flames were seen on his leg but he was still alive After the third jolt he was pronounced dead Twenty were present as witnesses included Moore s brother George who traveled from Coffeyville Kansas and claimed a piece of DaVaughn s belt as a souvenir of his visit The Montgomery Advertiser Montgomery Alabama 2002Horace Devaughn was a black man Two weeks later Virgil Murphy a veteran of World War I who was convicted in Houston County of murdering his wife became the first white man electrocuted in the chair Before the state s Progress or Collapse use of the electric chair executions generally were carried out in the counties by hanging The Alabama Department of History and Archives Tuscaloosa County Old Jail where the gallows wereSo here I am listening to music by a Birmingham Alabama native singing about sitting in that chair Most of my professional career it was my duty tophold the imposition of the death penalty No easy burden It s a lot to think about when you ask a man s jury of his peers to kill him I have the The New Goddess utmost respect for Stevenson though we would have been on opposite sides of the court room had we ever met in oneI have tried my share of Capital cases The verdicts in each case was guilty However the Jury s sentencing recommendation in all but one Life in Prison Without Parole Those Defendants will never walk out of prison alive Unless the Legislature changes the law regarding Life Without Parole It site possible The State is going broke The prisons are overcrowded There is a growing geriatric population in our prisonsThe law prevents an Alabama Prosecutor from telling a Jury that the Legislature could one day allow the possibility of parole in a Capital case Were a Prosecuting Attorney do that it would be reversible errorIn each Capital case I have tried the Judge presiding followed the Jury s sentencing recommendation In each case I did not ask the Judge to override the Jury s recommendation In my opinion the Jury had spoken The verdict was Just When the Jury recommended Mercy I believed Justice had been doneThere is that one case though The case where I sought the death penalty the verdict was guilty I strenuously argued to the Jury that the only appropriate sentence was death The Jury s recommendation was death The Judge presiding imposed the death sentence That was fourteen years ago The case remains somewhere in the seemingly endless series of AppealsThe Defendant murdered his two month old son Beat and shook him to death
The child had two rib fractures on his chest The child had eight rib fractures on child had two rib fractures on his chest The child had eight rib fractures on back Picture holding a baby in front of you Your thumbs gently resting on his chest your fingers cradling each side of his back The weight of the baby supported nderneath his arms by the flesh between your thumbs and forefingersThink of the amount of force necessary to break the cartilaginous ribs of a two month old child Consider it the same degree of force as the impact of two vehicles Colliding Each Travelling At each travelling at miles an hour Consider that the baby s brain was shaken so hard that his brain swelled within his soft skull to the degree the pressure became so great his Brain Shut Down All Autonomous Nerve ProcessesThe shut down all autonomous nerve processesThe was just I have no absolutely no reason to be ashamed of the verdict I sought the sentence I sought Yet I live with the fact I asked twelve men and women to kill another human being It will bring you down But it the life denied a child who will never have the opportunity to grow p that haunts me I do believe there are cases where the denial of mercy is justBut There is always the possibility of a But I agree with almost every word Bryan Stevenson wroteSurprised Two Diverging Roads I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages henceTwo roads diverged in a wood and I I took the one less traveled byAnd that has made all the differenceRobert Frost The Road Not Taken Bryan Stevenson and I started out on the same road Neither of The Buzzards That Circle the Throne (The Peacock King, us intended to become lawyersEach ofs felt the compulsion to do something meaningful As Mr Stevenson decided he could not help others by continuing his studies in philosophy by philosophizing I decided not to be a teacher of history a professor of Classical languages or even a psychologist though I took my The Monster in My Closet undergraduate degree in that fieldActually I attempted to bluff the Chair of the Department of Psychology into allowing me tondertake my graduate studies in his department a semester earlier I told him Well if no assistance ships are available I ll apply to Law School It seemed a good idea at the time I had been tutoring the daughter of a Law Professor in her Latin studies When the Chair smiled and answered We must all do what we must do Mr Sullivan I nodded swallowed left his office and applied for entrance to Law SchoolI was offered a Graduate Assistant ship by the Department of Psychology the same day I received my acceptance to the School of Law In my youthfulness and arrogant pride I turned down the offer and entered the study of LawBryan Stevenson and I also agree about the traditional Law School curriculum It is esoteric It is a tortuous experience being the victim of the Socratic method of teaching Students of the law are drilled in the art of confrontation and argument To me the desire to Win and not Lose is instilled in the student of Law And therein lies the danger of Hubris in an adversarial process where the possibility of pride overtakes principlePerhaps I have greater faith in our Judicial system that Stevenson Or perhaps I have too muchThere is the point at which we took the road the other did notThe Tragedy of Walter McMillanThe behavior of two Monroe County District Attorneys primarily contributed to Walter McMillian s conviction and The Sea Lion Festival unlawful imprisonment There should be conseuences Sanctions The paramount duty of a District Attorney is not to secure a conviction but to do the right thing As prosecutors we are lawyers just as those who are engaged in the private practice of law I sport a tee shirt that defines a Prosecutor as a lawyer held to a higher standard I personally always believed that practiced thatOn June 11 2015 retired District Attorney Charles J Sebesta Jr was disbarred by State Bar Association of Texas for professional misconduct in obtaining a conviction of Robert Graves for a Capital Murder of six people on the basis of testimony he knew to be perjured Further Sebesta flagrantly withheld evidence proving Graves innocence As a result Graves an innocent man was imprisoned for eighteen years for a crime he didn t commitIt has been fundamental cons. Cerated and the wrongly condemnedJust Mercy tells the story of EJI from the early days with a small staff facing the nation’s highest death sentencing and execution rates through a successful campaign to challenge the cruel practice of sentencing children to die in prison to revolutionary projects designed to confront Americans with our his. Titutional law since 1963 that prosecutors have an absolute duty to disclose evidence exculpatory to the Defendant In other words evidence which might be favorable to the Defendant See Brady v Maryland 373 US 83 83 SCt 1194 10 LEd2d 215 its opinion disbarring Sebesta the Texas Bar Association found he had violated his ethical duty by eliciting false testimony from Robert Carter a Co Defendant failing to disclose the exculpatory evidence of Carter s statement the night before trial clearing Graves of involvement in the crime eliciting false testimony from a Texas State Ranger regarding Carter s statements about Graves involvement threatening an alibi defense witness with prosecution for the same murders when he had no evidence to support her involvement apparently causing her to decide not to testify on Graves behalf failing to disclose that a prosecution witness wasnder felony indictment by Sebesta s office at the time of his testimonySee 2015That s simply as it should be Stevenson s blistering memoir makes me cringe Bryant Stevenson attributes many of the problems he confronted to the lingering affects of slavery Statistics do not lie That racism exists is Greenlighting (Directors Cut undeniable Stating racism is the primary cause for the manner of imposition of Capital Punishment doesn t work for me I initially intended to be a Defense Attorney I cut my chops on the cases of Sacco and Vanzetti Julius and Ethel Rosenberg My legal literary mentors were Clarence Darrow Louis Nizer Melvin Belli and allen dershowitz My take on McMillian s case hinges on the base instinct to win at all costs The very instinct to which law students are subjected throughout their education whether that is the intent of Law Schools or not It is a weakness of human nature to submit to the will to win whatever the cost Just Mercy isn t perfect Following is an excerpt from the Sunday Review of Just Mercy Ted Conover The New York Times October 17 2014 Just Mercy has itsirks though Many stories it recounts are than 30 years old but are retold as though they happened yesterday Dialogue is reconstituted scenes are conjured from memory characters thoughts are channeled la true crime writers McMillian being driven back to death row was feeling something that could only be described as rage Loose these chains Loose these chains He couldn t remember when he d last lost control but he felt himself falling apart Stevenson leaves out identifying years perhaps to avoid the impression that some of this happened long ago He also has the defense lawyer s reflex of refusing to acknowledge his clients darker motives A teenager convicted of a double murder by arson is relieved of agency a man who placed a bomb on his estranged girlfriend s porch inadvertently killing her niece had a big heart William Faulkner sums it Rebound Roommate (Men of Lake Tahoe Series, up for me Some things you must always benable to bear Some things you must never stop refusing to bear Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame No matter how young you are or how old you have got Not for kudos and not for cash your picture in the paper nor money in the back either Just refuse to bear them Gavin Stevens Intruder in the Dust 1948ExtrasYellow Mama Dale Watson The Death of the Death Penalty DAVID VON DREHLE Time Magazine May 28 20i5 The Death Penalty Information Center The Eual Justice Initiative Well I suspect it ll drag you kicking and screaming from your happy place but I defy you to read Bryan Stevenson s remarkable Just Mercy and not come away affected in some way If you are at all interested in racial andor sociopolitical injustice specifically as it applies to our country s and specifically my adoptive home state Alabama s seriously flawed justice and penal systems this is the book for you Absolutely haunting heartbreaking and nforgettable Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South Though larger than life Atticus exists only in fiction Bryan Stevenson however is very much alive and doing God s work fighting for the poor the oppressed the voiceless the vulnerable the outcast and those with no hope Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story Compared to average white folk I would consider myself aware of and sensitive to the relentless injustices that plague our country Still this book got me fired pIt s pretty straight forward Bryan Stevenson a lawyer for Eual Justice Initiative casually describes some of the situations he s been in and cases he s represented His legal practice focuses on defending the wrongly condemned Spank! unusually condemned or otherwise victims of the state Many of the cases described are the result of intentional racism but many others are just examples of the disgusting criminal justice laws that continue to exist Race isn t always a factor Children women poor whites and many others are also mixedp in this world of capitalist imprisonmentThis isn t a book solely on the bygone errors of 50 years ago although some history certainly plays into it By and large it s extremely current extremely relevant and horrifyingMajor kudos to Stevenson by the way for not degrading these accounts with personal rants He doesn t shy away from pointing out the blatant errors of our nation s laws but overall the book reads very calm And I suppose that makes sense For him this is his daily life Representing innocent people who may have spent decades behind bars or on death row is his bread and butter It s probably not even all that shocking to him any that this happensTo be fair it s probably not that shocking to persons of color either These injustices are so common in marginalized communities that this isn t new information It s just life The best thing about this book is probably that it got popular enough that privileged classes are reading it I think we probably all know that our criminal justice system is a joke but Saints and Misfits until you start reading about the individual people destroyed by it it s hard tonderstand how deep the problems runThe only slight negative I ll say is that structurally it s somewhat difficult to keep track of everyone Walter is the main story and I suspect the central focus in the movie although I haven t seen it yet but intermixed with him are many others who sometimes jumble together Listening to the audio version made it easier to keep track I think and Bryan does a flawless job narrating his own book But I have read some others critiue the structure and I would TEND TO AGREE WITH THEM ON THATSTILL OVERALL A to agree
With Them On ThatStill Overall A Read Even For Those them on thatStill overall a read Even for those think they already know how bad our system is I often think that my grandparents and parents lived in interesting times They saw so many things come about in their day Theirs were exciting times Women won the right to vote slaves were freed and medical advancements were plenty It was the time of The Industrial Revolution electricity the telephone planes trains and automobiles so to speak I tend to downplay the important breakthroughs of my life and times Television Computers a second industrial revolution of Technology several wars the est for Space and The Civil Rights Movement I have always gone back and forth in my opinion about capital punishment and the death penalty The older I get the I read the I lean to the correctness and reasoning for its abolishment in our state I Haven T Come To This t come to this lightly it s a real struggle for me Perhaps this conflict of soul is why books such as Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption interest me so muchBryan Stevenson didn t start out walking th Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the US justice system or curious about why some people don t feel they receive eual treatment nder the law In Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption Bryan Stevenson presents what could be dry statistics or empty outrages as stories about real people However these stories aren t just about people but the towns and cities where horrible crimes were committed sparking cries for justice and the flawed mechanisms we have for delivering justice from law enforcement to our courts How can we as a country improve our justice system This is something we should all consider if we care to strive for the ideals Bon Appetit, Yall under which our country was founded First though prepare to be angry If you read this book and you should anger is nearlynavoidable What to do with that anger is another I Do, Two uestion entirely I wouldrge hope over fatalism and do everything possible to hold lawmakers accountable to fix our broken system. Tory of racial injusticeOne of EJI’s first clients was Walter McMillian a young Black man who was sentenced to die for the murder of a young white woman that he didn’t commit The case exemplifies how the death penalty in America is a direct descendant of lynching a system that treats the rich and guilty better than the poor and innocent. .
summary Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption.
UPDATEI just stepped out of the theater seeing this filmIt s absolutely extraordinary IncredibleI can t recommend it highly enough I hope it wins best picture of the year 4 stars What a powerful and inspiring book Please note if this was a review of the author Bryan Stevenson s career and life story my rating would be 5 stars Words cannot adeuately describe how I feel about this selfless man who has spent his career fighting for justice for those who need it most My rating of 4 stars is simply my review of this book which is obviously what this site is about My impression of and respect for Bryan Stevenson as an individual is extremely high and would go well beyond a 4 star ratingI felt like I was in a constant state of shock while reading the never ending examples of case law describing people being mistreated and wrongly convicted due to racism andor to appease law enforcement personnel and goals I felt sickened reading about the abuse that happens to men women and children within the prison system The prison personnel sometimes doing things considered way worse in my opinion to these prisoners than what the prisoners were actually incarcerated for I had a hard time accepting the statistics of how many children She Weeps Each Time Youre Born under the age of 18 get life sentences without parole for non homicide crimes and endp being abused in adult prisons some children only 13 or 14 years old Add onto this the overwhelmingly high percentage of prisoners who are mentally ill without a chance of getting the proper help they need within the prison system And one of the main themes of the book proved with endless examples is the criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent While all of these examples and stories are shocking and Warheart (Sword of Truth, upsetting it was inspiring to learn that Bryan Stevenson was working toward making changes He founded the Eual Justice Initiative a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need the poor the wrongly condemned and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system Bryan Stevenson s attitude work ethic and goals were the light and positivity shining throughout this book People like him are what make this world a better placeI had to be in full concentration mode while reading this book as it is very factual with a lot of statistics and examples I needed time to fully absorb the details While I felt these examples provided an eye opening experience of how extremelynjust the US Justice System can be I also felt it was slightly overwhelming and hard to keep track of At times I felt lost in the case examples as they are referenced back to throughout the book I nderstand why Bryan Stevenson would choose to bombard the reader with endless examples this is what proves and solidifies his points and theories It s just a lot to take inOverall this was an informative well written account by a caring driven and compassionate man I think everyone could learn a thing or two from Bryan Stevenson Mercy is just when it is rooted in hopefulness and freely given Let me be honest I would never have picked this book to read on my own But it was my church book club selection This is a powerful scary book A young black lawyer takes on death penalty appeal cases in Alabama And he does this because Alabama didn t provide public defenders for those appeal cases The book delves into all the aspects of the legal system It also speaks poignantly on the effects of the larger community when someone is njustly found guilty When evidence logic and common sense are ignored it makes everyone estion whom could be next It puts to lie the idea we are a democracy as opposed to an elitist society And don t think it s just the south My home state Pennsylvania is Re read This time via audio Bryan Stevenson is in the Netflix documentary the 13th I just watched it I highly recommend itI m late to the party so there is not much for me to say about this book that has not already been said What I will say is that This is a Very Important Book If you have not read it you must It should be reuired reading for high school I had no idea the injustice that occurred in this country when it came to death row I live in a state in which the death penalty was abolished I still can t get it out of my head that a judge in Alabama can override a jury s verdict for life in prison to a death sentence to this very day Bryan Stevenson is an incredible man for all that he has done for death row inmates They are making this into a movie I m so glad they arePut it at the very very top of your to read list It s that important Just Mercy Following the Road Less Taken Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption was chosen as a Group Read for June 2015 by On the Southern Literary Trail My special thanks to Jane my good friend who nominated this selection Bryan Stevenson Bryan Stevenson has written a compelling memoir with Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption This is an important work which should be read by any individual who is concerned with the concept of Justice and incidents of Injustice that merit compassion and mercyStevenson the founder of the Eual Justice Initiative and its Executive Director is a committed advocate opposed to the imposition of the death penalty an advocate for njustly imprisoned children and an iconic American citizen at the forefront of discussing racism as reflected in the Judicial System It is a book that will surprise you shock you and appall you Simply put read this book one of the Ten most noted books of 2014 by the New York Times the Washington Post and numerous other literary reviews My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth the opposite of poverty is justice Finally I ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice the character of our society our commitment to the rule of law fairness and euality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich the powerful the privileged and the respected among s The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor the disfavored the accused the incarcerated and the condemned Bryan Stevenson Just Mercy A Story of Justice and Redemption revolves around the case of an innocent man Walter McMillian a black man who had a white girl friend in Monroe County Alabama framed by the Sheriff the District Attorney and convicted by a Jury for the murder of a clerk in a dry cleaner s shop Condemned to die The Sheriff and the District Attorney ignored the evidence that exonerated him Manufactured the dirty evidence that convicted him and placed him on death row Incredibly Though No Law Provided For It The no law provided for it the succeeded in McMillian being held on death row prior to trial within the Alabama penitentiary system McMillian was held on death row for a total of six years Walter McMillian Exonerated Although the case occurs in the home town and county of Harper Lee the community which has gained fame from Lee s To Kill a Mockingbird there is no Atticus Finch to implore the Jury For the love of God do your dutyBryan Stevenson surfaces as a real life Atticus Finch who ltimately gathers the evidence ncovers the chicanery and political machinations that imprisoned McMillian Stevenson who was a young fledgling attorney not long out of law school He has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court five times Walter McMillian is a man to cheer for Stevenson is a man to be emulated by so many others in the Justice
system but stevenson does not gleefully celebrate hisBut Stevenson does not gleefully celebrate his the exoneration of the innocent A bubbling anger appears to roil within him at the injustices he has continued to attempt to right in those years following McMillian s exoneration That anger for me is nderstandable yet disturbing I have to wonder if Stevenson bears a burden that prevents him from having faith in any system responsible for the administration of justice Whether it is difficult for him to approach any adversary opposite the court room without feeling there is the possibility of fairnessI was a prosecuting attorney for almost twenty eight years I spoke for vulnerable populations Abused children victims of sexual assault both women and men who were The Golden Vortex undeniable victims of domestic violence I directed our County s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program for almost four years I began the private practice of law and for nearly two years represented. Annforgettable true story about the potential for mercy to redeem Sovereign of Stars (The She-King, us and a clarion call to end mass incarceration in America from one of the most inspiring lawyers of our timeBryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Eual Justice Initiative a nonprofit law office in Montgomery Alabama dedicated to defending the poor the incar.