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REVIEW: "The Innocent Man", John Grisham

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKINCTMN.RVW 20080715 The Innocent Man , John Grisham, 2006, 0-385-51723-8, U$28.95/C$35.95 %A John Grisham www.jgrisham.com %C 666 Fifth Ave., New
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28 3:33 PM
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      BKINCTMN.RVW 20080715

      "The Innocent Man", John Grisham, 2006, 0-385-51723-8, U$28.95/C$35.95
      %A John Grisham www.jgrisham.com
      %C 666 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10103
      %D 2006
      %G 0-385-51723-8
      %I Bantam Books/Doubleday/Dell
      %O U$28.95/C$35.95 800-323-9872 www.bdd.com www.doubleday.com
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385517238/robsladesinterne
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385517238/robsladesinte-21
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385517238/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience n+ Tech 2 Writing 3 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 360 p.
      %T "The Innocent Man: murder and injustice in a small town"

      In seminars dealing with forensics and investigation, I stress to my
      students that it is important to be scrupulous, unprejudiced, and
      honest in your investigation. This is not only to give the suspect a
      "fair chance," but also because when you become fixated on proving the
      guilt of an individual, you may fail to determine the identity of the
      person who actually committed the crime.

      "The Innocent Man" is the story of the improper conviction of Ron
      Williamson for murder, as well as the interrelated stories of other
      improper convictions around the same time and place.

      John Grisham's popular novels have demonstrated his ability to write.
      They have also established his knowledge of the law and competence in
      research. This, the author's first non-fiction text, puts that
      expertise to good work. The ground is covered thoroughly, noting
      limitations on the part of all involved. Grisham is, in fact, very
      careful to be fair, and avoids imputations of motive (which is rather
      at odds with the descriptions of motivation he must make in his
      fictional works). United States case law in regard to investigations,
      confessions, and aspects of forensic evidence and presentation is
      introduced carefully at every point.

      There are, of course, a great many books written about specific crimes
      and their outcomes. A number have been written about wrongful
      convictions. However, "The Innocent Man" is particularly relevant to
      those interested in the management of investigations, especially where
      forensic, rather than direct, evidence plays a major part in the case.
      In one sense, it is an excellent primer on how not to conduct an
      investigation.

      The justice system is created and staffed by people, and people make
      mistakes. This is why structures have been created to catch possible
      errors. The adversarial system itself, and various appeals processes,
      is intended to act as audits, checks, and balances for the system. It
      is, therefore, critical to note one other disturbing point that arises
      from the events in the book. There are numerous layers of appeals,
      but a consistency of personnel and direction between the various
      offices. As any student of internal controls knows, weak separation
      of duties creates the possibility of all kinds of problems.

      This book is entertaining, readable, distressing, and important.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2008 BKINCTMN.RVW 20080715


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