Black Rage Confronts The Law / Edition 1

Black Rage Confronts The Law / Edition 1

by Paul Harris, Evelyn McDonnell
     
 

In 1971, Paul Harris pioneered the modern version of the black rage defense when he successfully defended a young black man charged with armed bank robbery. Dubbed one of the most novel criminal defenses in American history by Vanity Fair, the black rage defense is enormously controversial, frequently dismissed as irresponsible, nothing less than a harbinger

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Overview

In 1971, Paul Harris pioneered the modern version of the black rage defense when he successfully defended a young black man charged with armed bank robbery. Dubbed one of the most novel criminal defenses in American history by Vanity Fair, the black rage defense is enormously controversial, frequently dismissed as irresponsible, nothing less than a harbinger of anarchy. Consider the firestorm of protest that resulted when the defense for Colin Ferguson, the gunman who murdered numerous passengers on a New York commuter train, claimed it was considering a black rage defense.

In this thought-provoking book, Harris traces the origins of the black rage defense back through American history, recreating numerous dramatic trials along the way. For example, he recounts in vivid detail how Clarence Darrow, defense attorney in the famous Scopes Monkey trial, first introduced the notion of an environmental hardship defense in 1925 while defending a black family who shot into a drunken white mob that had encircled their home.

Emphasizing that the black rage defense must be enlisted responsibly and selectively, Harris skillfully distinguishes between applying an environmental defense and simply blaming society, in the abstract, for individual crimes. If Ferguson had invoked such a defense, in Harris's words, it would have sent a superficial, wrong-headed, blame-everything-on-racism message. Careful not to succumb to easy generalizations, Harris also addresses the possibilities of a white rage defense and the more recent phenomenon of cultural defenses. He illustrates how a person's environment can, and does, affect his or her life and actions, how even the most rational person can become criminally deranged, when bludgeoned into hopelessness by exploitation, racism, and relentless poverty.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814735923
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
05/01/1999
Series:
Critical America Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
306
Product dimensions:
0.70(w) x 9.00(h) x 6.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction1
1The Black Rage Defense, 1846: The Trial of William Freeman9
2The Black Rage Defense, 197131
3The Law: Its Myths and Rituals59
4Black Rage 1971: The Case of James Johnson, Jr.81
5James Johnson's Workers' Compensation Case112
6Racism, Rage, and Criminal Defenses125
7To Use or Not to Use the Black Rage Defense147
8Race, Class, and the Trials of Clarence Darrow163
9A Survey of Black Rage Cases183
10Urban War Zones203
11White Rage - Hate Crimes214
12White Rage - Do Prisons Cause Crime?228
13The Cultural Defense and the Trials of Patrick Hooty Croy241
14"Remake the World"264
Notes277
Index291

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