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Defending the Damned

Inside Chicago's Cook County Public Defender's Office

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Description

Chicago was the nation's deadliest city in 2001, recording 666 homicides. For lawyers in the Cook County Public Defender's Office Murder Task Force, that meant a steady flow of new clients. Eight out of ten people arrested for murder in Chicago are represented by public defenders. They're assigned the most challenging and seemingly hopeless cases, yet they always fight to win.

One of those lawyers is Marijane Placek, a snakeskin boot-wearing, Shakespeare-quoting nonconformist whose courtroom bravado and sharp legal skills have made her a well-known figure around the courthouse. When an ex-convict was arrested on charges of killing a Chicago police officer that deadly year, Placek got the high-profile case, and her defense forms the hub around which the book's narrative revolves.

Veteran journalist Kevin Davis reveals the compelling true story of a team of battle-scarred lawyers fighting against all odds. Unflinching, gripping, and full of surprises, Defending the Damned is an unforgettable human story and engaging courtroom drama where life and death hang in the balance. Davis explores the motives that compel these lawyers to come to work in this dark corner of the criminal justice system and exposes their insular and often misunderstood world.

This groundbreaking work comes at a time when the country has seen how wrongful convictions have slipped through the system, that innocent people have been sent to death row, and that some police have lied or coerced suspects into confessing to crimes they did not commit. Such flaws drive these public defenders even harder to do their jobs, providing scrutiny to a long ignored and often broken system.

Davis's reporting offers an unvarnished account of public defenders as never seen before. A powerful melding of courtroom drama and penetrating truecrime journalism, Defending the Damned is narrative nonfiction at its finest.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 05, 2007 – A colorful lawyer and a cop killing are at the center of this skillfully crafted narrative look at the Murder Task Force of Chicago's public defender's office. A veteran crime reporter, Davis focuses on the case of Aloysius Oliver, a 26-year-old ex-convict charged with fatally shooting undercover police officer Eric Lee. In sharp journalistic prose, Davis portrays a variety of public defenders driven by idealism, ambition and the excitement of legal battles. At the heart of this story is Oliver's lawyer, Marijane Placek, an excellent lawyer and a character who loves "high profile, seemingly impossible cases" like a cop killing. Placek views the court as a stage where she performs before a hostile audience. Despite her best efforts to prove that Oliver's confession was coerced with physical abuse, that he didn't know Lee was a police officer and did not intend to fire his weapon, the jury found him guilty; the judge gave him life without parole. Davis ably captures the drama of the courtroom and makes a powerful case for the necessity of the often unpopular public defenders within the criminal justice system, conveying their dedication to obtaining justice for their clients.
Defending the Damned
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  • $16.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Law
  • Published: Apr 03, 2007
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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