Winner of the 1998 Award for Excellence in Indexing, American Society of Indexers and H. W. Wilson Company
Mello is a former postconviction counsel, representing Florida death-row inmates in challenges to their sentencechallenges often popularly thought of as "milking the system," as one judge said with reference to Ted Bundy. But Mello relentlessly demonstrates that such procedures generally unfold at a breakneck pace that understaffed counsel can barely keep up with, that delays are often the state's faultand that the Bundy case's notoriety actually made it a de facto "exception" to the due-process rule. It is astonishing how many cases Mello can cite, from his own experience, of prisoners either executed or nearly executed in flagrantly unconstitutional circumstances due to indifference, incompetence, or outright hostility from the courts, considering that he has performed a mere 14 years of "deathwork," as he calls it. However, Mello's often engagingly haphazard way of storytelling virtually ruins the two climactic accounts that introduce his decision to "conscientiously abstain" from continued work within the system, undermining the hyperbole with which, for example, he excoriates the decisions, regarding his clients, of Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, whom he calls "either stupid or malicious." Mello's own aversion to self-censorship also results in repetition; at least one episode that reads rather like score-settling; and an "apologia" for quitting deathwork startlingly announces that his reasons for doing so "are beyond the scope of this book."
For all that, death-penalty supportersand opponents, for that matterwho do not read this unique insider's account of capital punishment as a capricious and nearly broken-down system will lay themselves open to the charge that they don't know what they're talking about.
“A blistering, well-annotated critique. . . . both passionate and eloquent.”Publishers Weekly starred review
“Death-penalty supportersand opponents, for that matterwho do not read this unique insider’s account of capital punishment as a capricious and nearly broken-down system will lay themselves open to the charge that they don’t know what they’re talking about.”Kirkus Reviews
“Mello separates himself from others who have written about death row. He is visceral, not cerebral . . . One of the nation’s most passionate post-conviction lawyers.”Colman McCarthy, The Nation
"Michael Mello is a poet, a storyteller, a wordsmith, and, thank God, a lawyer. Dead Wrong is an incisive, probing examination of life, death, and the law, at once wickedly funny, heart-wrenchingly human, and surgically precise. This is a book written in blood."Mike Farrell, actor and president of California Death Penalty Focus
- University of Wisconsin Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
Michael A. Mello formerly worked full time as a capital public defender in Florida and is now professor of law at Vermont Law School. He is the author of Against the Death Penalty: The Relentless Dissents of Justices Brennan and Marshall.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews