Fatal Error: The Miscarriage of Justice That Sealed the Rosenberg's Fate

Joseph Sharlitt, Author Scribner Book Company $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19059-4
Just days before Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were electrocuted, their lawyers obtained a stay of execution. Because the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 states that the death penalty must be recommended by a jury, the Rosenbergs' defense counsel, at the last minute, argued before the Supreme Court that the scheduled executions were illegal. With McCarthyist sentiments raging, the Court rejected their motion. In a totally fresh look at the Rosenberg case, Sharlitt, editorial chairman of the Harvard Crimson , convincingly argues that the highest court of the U.S. acted in a highly politicized way in its rush to have the Rosenbergs executed. He cites grave procedural improprieties, and charges that an internal vendetta against maverick Justice William O. Douglas helped seal the convicted conspirators' doom. He also argues that the death sentence was inappropriate, since convicted Communist spy Klaus Fuchs had already given the Russians vital atomic secrets, making the Rosenbergs' alleged leaks minor scientific redundancies--a point never argued by the couple's lawyers at their trial. Photos. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
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