Sunday, October 10, 2010

Angel Of Death Row by Andrea Lyons

Nineteen times, Andrea Lyon was appointed as the defense attorney in a death penalty case.  Nineteen times she was successful in avoiding the death penalty for her clients.  In Angel Of Death Row, a name given to her by the Chicago Tribune, Andrea Lyon takes the reader through twelve of these death penalty cases.  Along the way, the reader learns of Lyon's legal philosphies, the intense and engrossing work that defending a capital case involves, and the scary misperceptions and misjustices that make being charged with a capital offense such an overwhelming perception.

There was the case of the mother on trial for killing her daughter.  The truth was, however, that the police coerced a confession from her by telling her that confessing was the only way she could go to her baby's funeral.  When the case was reinvestigated, it turned out that someone else entirely was responsible.  Another case involved a woman on death row for killing her husband.  Her issue?  Her original defense attorney decided that the case against her was so flimsy that no one would believe she did it, and did no investigation of his own, and put up very little defense.  Since the prosecution came to court prepared with his version, the woman was convicted and served behind bars for years before Ms. Lyon was able to help her gain her freedom.

Lyon doesn't pretend that everyone she defends is blameless.  She is willing to have a guilty client serve a reasonable term, but one of her core beliefs is that it is imperative that the whole story comes out so that the jury can determine if there are mitigating factors that would lead toward a long jail term rather than a death sentence.  Several of the cases illustrate this tenet.  Others show defendants that she saved from a death sentence in spite of themselves, when they were to mentally ill to provide much help.

This book is fascinating for those who follow crime and legal tactics.  They are taken behind the closed doors of a defense attorney at the top of her game, and given an illustrative look at what really decides many court cases.  If one is charged with a crime, that doesn't necessarily mean that they won't be convicted if innocent.  It takes an attorney willing to investigate and determine the truth and also one competent enough to get enough points raised that an effective appeal is possible.  This book is recommended for readers interested in legal matters or those who enjoy hearing about someone at the top of their game relate their experiences.


Steven Jensen said...

That sounds like an exceptionally interesting book. Thank you for the tip, Sandie. :)

Sandie said...

It was fascinating. I love anything to do with true crime and the law. It's hard to disagree with Andrea as you read her book; she must be an amazing woman.

Jackie Mattina said...

I have read this book and I agree with you. An excellent read!!!
My favs are true crime and this book was up there with one of the best