Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys

Susannah Sheffer. Vanderbilt Univ., $27.95 trade paper (218p) ISBN 978-0-8265-1911-5
Sheffer (In a Dark Time: A Prisoner’s Struggle for Healing and Change) takes readers beyond the courtroom and execution chambers to explore how capital defense attorneys cope when they can’t save a client. Whereas a doctor might take comfort in knowing that it’s up to biology whether a person lives or dies, that an individual’s fate lies in the hands of a human construct, the justice system, can make a lost case—and thus a lost life—all the more difficult for these lawyers to accept. “Post-conviction defense attorneys enter the case to provide a final firewall of protection... to determine if the defendant received a constitutionally fair trial,” often “under the pressure of a looming execution date.” Most of the leading practitioners she interviewed for the book have lost multiple clients, but even though they realize, “intellectually, that the execution is not [their] fault,” emotional acceptance is elusive. The book is unexpectedly moving, as when an inmate consoles an attorney who has run out of options, and the author is especially adept at uncovering the ethical and professional nuances of these cases. Sheffer’s sobering and intimate study will appeal to legal professionals as well as human rights advocates. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012
Release date: 03/01/2013
Show other formats
Library Binding - 224 pages - 978-0-8265-1910-8
Open Ebook - 225 pages - 978-0-8265-1912-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-283-96011-3
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.