Promise of Justice


The dramatic true story of how a journalist, a professor, and three students solved a murder and helped free four wrongly convicted men after 18 years in prison.
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The dramatic true story of how a journalist, a professor, and three students solved a murder and helped free four wrongly convicted men after 18 years in prison.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this expose of an astonishing case of legal incompetence, Protess, a professor of journalism and urban affairs at Northwestern University, and Warden, a Chicago freelance investigative journalist, detail the inept police work, perjured testimony and mistakes of defense attorneys that combined to convict four African American males of crimes they did not commit. Childhood friends who grew up in East Chicago, the "Ford Heights Four"--Dennis Williams, Kenny Adams, Willie Rainge and Verneal Jimerson--were arrested and found guilty of the 1978 double rape and murder of a white couple. Warden, receiving a letter in 1982 from Williams on death row, became persuaded that the convictions were based on tainted evidence and published an article on the case in Chicago Lawyer. Appeals, retrials and other strategies failed to free the men until Protess joined the struggle with three of his students and a team of volunteer lawyers. Their investigation of police files, the use of new forensic technologies and interviews with those connected with the case helped lead to the arrests of the real killers. In 1996 the Ford Heights Four were released. Notwithstanding their dramatic portrayal of a heroic effort, against all odds, to rectify the failures of the justice system, some troubling errors in the writers' account lead one to wonder if all their facts have been thoroughly checked.
Library Journal
On May 11, 1978, Carol Schmal was brutally raped and murdered along with her fiance, Larry Lionberg, in East Chicago Heights. Four young black men were arrested, tried, and convicted despite questionable evidence strong alibis. Two were sentenced to death, one and received a life without parole, and the other a 75-year sentence. In 1982 they were able to get a new trial on the grounds of ineffective counsel but were again convicted, this time by perjured testimony. These details came to the attention of Warden Gone in the Night, LJ 5/1/93 in 1982 while he was investigating the case for the Chicago Lawyer, but he could persuade no one that the convicted men were innocent. In 1995, he was joined by Protess journalism, Northwestern Univ.. Along with three students and a crack team of volunteer lawyers, they were able to prove the young men innocent and even to locate the real killers. A classic case of rush to judgment and investigative journalism at its best; recommended for public libraries.--Michael Sawyer, Northwestern Regional Lib., Elkin, NC
Kirkus Reviews
A chilling cautionary tale that says reams about the true state of justice in America. Those who think racism and corruption are simply the stuff of prime-time TV will think twice after reading Protess and Warden's latest journalistic endeavor. Here the coauthors of the Edgar-nominated Gone in the Night: The Dowaliby Family's Encounter with Murder and the Law (1994) chronicle the depressing story of four African-American men who spend a combined total of 64 years in Illinois prisons (two on death row) for a crime they did not commit, then are finally set free. Larry Lionberg and Carol Schmal were a young white Chicago couple engaged to be married when they were abducted in 1978 from a filling station after a botched robbery. Lionberg was executed. Schmal was shot in the head after being gang-raped by the robbers. Dennis Williams, Kenny Adams, Willie Rainge, and Verneal Jimerson were picked up for the crime shortly after and eventually were found guilty, despite their repeated pleas of innocence, alibis from their mothers, and a lack of physical evidence. Protess (Journalism and Urban Affairs/Northwestern Univ.) and Warden (former publisher of the Chicago Lawyer) learn of the men's plight after Williams, aware of their interest in miscarriages of justice, forwards to them some of the details behind his frame-up. And what details they are: inept defense lawyers, perjured testimony, police cover-ups. Protess and Warden take on the case, not only proving the men's innocence but also solving the crime. Written as if it were unfolding at this moment, the tale is made all the more spellbinding by the fact that such misfortune could happen anywhere. A frightening look atthe ineptitude and racism that too often skew the justice system.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786862948
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 8/1/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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