American Injustice: Inside Stories from the Underbelly of the Criminal Justice System

American Injustice: Inside Stories from the Underbelly of the Criminal Justice System

by David S Rudolf
American Injustice: Inside Stories from the Underbelly of the Criminal Justice System

American Injustice: Inside Stories from the Underbelly of the Criminal Justice System

by David S Rudolf


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From the fearless defense attorney and civil rights lawyer who rose to fame with Netflix’s The Staircase comes a “bracing account of abuses of power and corruption in the criminal justice system.” (The Guardian)

“A fine companion to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Emily Bazelon’s Charged. A stellar—and often shocking—report on a broken criminal justice system.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

In the past thirty years alone, more than 2,800 innocent American prisoners—their combined sentences surpassing 25,000 years—have been exonerated and freed after being condemned for crimes they did not commit. Terrifyingly, this number represents only a fraction of the actual number of persons wrongfully accused and convicted over the same period. 

Renowned criminal defense and civil rights attorney David Rudolf has spent decades defending the wrongfully accused. In American Injustice, he draws from his years of experience in the American criminal legal system to shed light on the misconduct that exists at all levels of law enforcement and the tragic consequences that follow in its wake. Tracing these themes through the lens of some of his most important cases—including new details from the Michael Peterson trial made famous in The Staircase—Rudolf takes the reader inside crime scenes to examine forensic evidence left by perpetrators; revisits unsolved murders to detail how and why the true culprits were never prosecuted; reveals how confirmation bias leads police and prosecutors to employ tactics that make wrongful arrests and prosecutions more likely; and exposes how poverty and racism fundamentally distort the system.

In American Injustice, Rudolf gives a voice to those who have been the victim of wrongful accusations and shows in the starkest terms the human impact of legal wrongdoing. Effortlessly blending gripping true-crime reporting and searing observations on civil rights in America, American Injustice takes readers behind the scenes of a justice system in desperate need of reform.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062997357
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 01/25/2022
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 443,307
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

David S. Rudolf is one of the preeminent trial lawyers in the country. The co-host of the Webby Award-winning criminal justice podcast Abuse of Power, he has taught trial advocacy at the UNC School of Law and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and criminal litigation at Duke University School of Law. He has also served in leadership positions in the ABA Criminal Justice Section and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Rudolf received worldwide acclaim for his appearances in the Netflix documentary The Staircase, now being adapted as a dramatic series for HBO Max.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I The Role of the Criminal Defense Lawyer

1 Defending the Rule of Law 9

2 How Can You Represent "Those People"? 15

Part II Race and the Abuse of Power in the Criminal Justice System

3 Due Process in the Criminal Justice System 29

4 Southern Justice 35

5 White Justice 47

6 Speedy Justice 57

Part III Black, White, and Gray in the Criminal Justice System

7 The Front Lines 65

8 Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? 69

9 Shades of Gray 77

10 Law Enforcement or Criminals? 87

11 The Cover-up 97

Part IV Fighting the Abuse of Power by Prosecutors

12 The Most Powerful Person in the System 103

13 Caught in the Cross Fire 109

14 The Attack on Condoms and the First Amendment 121

15 Adam & Eve Fight Back 129

Part V Fighting the Abuse of Power by the Police

16 A Quiet Death by Lethal Injection 153

17 Set Up to Be Guilty: Suggestive False Identifications 159

18 Justice for Sale: Purchasing False Testimony 167

19 Hiding the Truth: Concealing Exculpatory Evidence 183

20 The Usual Suspect 193

21 The Obvious Suspect 207

22 A Thousand to One 221

23 Justice Delayed 233

24 Coercing False Confessions and Guilty Pleas 243

25 Fabricating Confessions 267

26 Abusing the Power of Science 285

27 Laboratory Scandals 297

28 Beyond the Limits of Science 303

29 I Shall Be Released 313

30 Who Killed Shadow Holloman? 329

Epilogue: The Roots of Resistance 337

Acknowledgments 341

Index 343

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