CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH INJUSTICE PDF

Start your review of Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America Write a review Jul 24, Tim Vicary rated it it was amazing This is a wonderful, shocking, compelling book. I have read many legal thrillers, including those by John Grisham who endorses this book but it is one thing to read about injustice, legal corruption and police incompetence in a fictional setting, and quite another to see it ruthlessly, thoroughly exposed, in a real case which has led to the British defendant, Kris Maharaj, spending 26 years of his life in an American prison, much of it under the threat of the electric chair; and all of this This is a wonderful, shocking, compelling book. I have read many legal thrillers, including those by John Grisham who endorses this book but it is one thing to read about injustice, legal corruption and police incompetence in a fictional setting, and quite another to see it ruthlessly, thoroughly exposed, in a real case which has led to the British defendant, Kris Maharaj, spending 26 years of his life in an American prison, much of it under the threat of the electric chair; and all of this for a crime which, as the author explains in compelling detail, he almost certainly did not commit. Any reasonable system would have done just that.

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Share via Email Clive Stafford Smith: 'the blurb on the cover calls him a true hero, and he probably is'. Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer One can read this book two ways, preferably both.

One, which would constitute the film if it ever got made, concerns the remarkable figure of Clive Stafford Smith , born in Cambridge, who worked without relent or relief along America's death row to combat, on occasions with success, the execution of those convicted of capital offences that they have, and often clearly have not, committed in the US. The second, more interesting, way to read this remarkable book is as a portrait of a country we think we know and may enjoy or even love — of its judicial system, in particular, and its institutional fibre in general.

Not much actually connected the " axis of evil " as defined by President George W Bush North Korea, Iran and Saddam's Iraq , apart from one thing: the death penalty, which all three in turn share with the US.

And here is an anatomy of this practice — drawn from long experience, expertise and estimable revulsion. What really matters throughout the book is that this is killing as a matter of procedure. We are not talking about murder arising from knife crime, gang warfare, lynching bankers or crimes of cruelty and passion — this is the process of what America calls law. This book is concerned with the paperwork of death, the lawyers' career ladder of death, the bureaucratic production line of death, guaranteed by casual procedure, ensured by America's self-belief and — in some of its most repulsive passages — blessed by America's Christian God and his airwave pulpit, talk radio.

It is an empirical study and exposition of that inimitably American blend of apathy and cruelty, of efficiency on one hand, ineptitude on the other. And, of course, the diktat of money, even in this domain of life and death. As a correspondent in America, I once reported on the failures of an electric chair in Florida that was getting old and did not work very well, called Old Sparky, which took a long time to kill people.

One condemned man writhed for several minutes while sparks and flames encircled his head before being finally released by death — all this watched by his widow. Stafford Smith relates, unsparingly, the barbarism of execution, and the gratuitous, procedural humiliations and cruelties America includes for the hell of it. It is primarily the story of one case, that of Kris Maharaj , a British citizen tried for and sentenced to death for a murder Stafford Smith convincingly argues he did not commit: of the son of a man, also supposedly murdered by Maharaj, who appeared to have been involved in laundering money for Colombian drug cartels.

In , Maharaj's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Some evidence is falsified, other ingredients suppressed under the "prevailing ethos that all people who make it as far as a trial are guilty" by strutting prosecutors who — having secured Maharaj's death sentence — feel "satisfaction that I hadn't fumbled the ball, I hadn't blown the kick, you know, as to Juries in capital cases are vetted on the basis that anyone who in principle disagrees with execution for capital crimes is inadmissible to sit on one.

Jurors receive instructions that they are bounden by the law to decree execution — to do anything else would be an abrogation of its letter and spirit. In this case, two judges, in their wisdom, had serially to be replaced after being arrested, mid-trial — the second for taking a bribe. The learned adjudicator who later took the case on appeal had previously worked as the two main prosecutors' boss, but this detail was not disclosed to the court.

Throughout, unsigned orders for Maharaj's execution were drawn up before the sentence was delivered. I like books with long Notes sections. Stafford Smith's goes on for more than illuminating pages that are almost as shocking as the body text, including such gems as a capital case in which the judge has to explain to the defence lawyer what was happening.

I really don't what to do in this type of proceeding. Of course, there are noble exceptions. One of them is Stafford Smith; another is a man I interviewed recently who was "the Fish" in Country Joe's band Country Joe and the Fish , Barry Melton , who defends capital cases as passionately as Injustice's author. But the bottom line is that this is how America administers the law when a human life is at stake. The blurb calls Stafford Smith a "true hero", and he probably is. Not only for his work on death row, but for what he went on to do for those imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

But the death penalty has become a theme whereby Britain can feel good about itself, for all the special relationship with America. Less cogent, therefore, is the way Stafford Smith becomes the darling of the British liberal-legal aristocracy and their friends in the theatre, lining up on the back cover to praise him. Join the dots: these are the people who surrounded themselves with Tony Blair et al: America's and Guantanamo Bay's best British friend. So there is a third way to read this excellent book: it is not only about institutional America, but — since Stafford Smith is a Brit — about our own special relationship with America, and the things we choose not to see or confront.

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Share via Email Clive Stafford Smith: 'the blurb on the cover calls him a true hero, and he probably is'. Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer One can read this book two ways, preferably both. One, which would constitute the film if it ever got made, concerns the remarkable figure of Clive Stafford Smith , born in Cambridge, who worked without relent or relief along America's death row to combat, on occasions with success, the execution of those convicted of capital offences that they have, and often clearly have not, committed in the US. The second, more interesting, way to read this remarkable book is as a portrait of a country we think we know and may enjoy or even love — of its judicial system, in particular, and its institutional fibre in general. Not much actually connected the " axis of evil " as defined by President George W Bush North Korea, Iran and Saddam's Iraq , apart from one thing: the death penalty, which all three in turn share with the US. And here is an anatomy of this practice — drawn from long experience, expertise and estimable revulsion. What really matters throughout the book is that this is killing as a matter of procedure.

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Clive Stafford Smith

And finally, a few guards think Maharaj is too polite to be guilty. Not content with mounting a defence of his client, Stafford Smith proceeds to lambast the entire US legal system in a biased and crude way. We all know that money talks, and that unlike Maharaj most people facing the death penalty are poor African-Americans. But Stafford Smith ventures much further than this. The Supreme Court is packed with conservative stooges who favour the death penalty, like the diminishing majority of Americans.

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Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America

He followed this degree with another in law at Columbia University in New York. Law career in US[ edit ] Stafford Smith worked for the Southern Prisoners' Defense Committee, based in Atlanta , now known as the Southern Center for Human Rights , and on other campaigns to help convicted defendants sentenced to capital punishment. Stafford Smith had acted as Johnson's attorney and was seen trying to halt the execution. In a follow-up documentary, Stafford Smith conducted his own investigation into the murder case for which Johnson had been executed. The jurors accepted that the accused was suffering from mental illness, but condemned Langley to capital punishment. Stafford Smith made him apologise to the mother of his victim, Jeremy Guillory.

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