Cruel and Unusual: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment

By Michael Meltsner | Go to book overview

8
Maxwell

The image of the Anglo-American lawyer was once inseparable from his identity as a master of oral advocacy. Bacon, Webster, Erskine, and Darrow, to name several famous lawyers of the past, were part of a great tradition of presenting ideas lucidly, and moving men by speech in ways often unpredictable and against the weight of prejudice and fashion. Buttressed by the theatricality of the adversary system, a form which sharpens moral alternatives by locking opposing forces in conflict, lawyers captured the public imagination through the beauty and pith of their words. Their speech seemed all the more powerful because they periodically stood against the state as defenders of the small, the unpopular, the rebellious, and the presumed guilty.

In England, judges still consider questions of law presented orally by lawyers without the benefit of written briefs, but in this country the tradition of the eloquent pleaders is in decline. Many of the most skilled and influential attorneys in the United States never appear before a jury and rarely even go to court. The few lawyers that the public knows best--Edward Bennett Williams, F. Lee Bailey, Percy Foreman, William Kunstler--remain those who have fired the trial courts with emotion, but most

-149-

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Cruel and Unusual: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Fund 3
  • 2 - The Court 20
  • 3 - The Facts of Death 45
  • 4 - The Strategy Unfolds 60
  • 5 - The Race Factor 73
  • 6 - Moratorium 106
  • 7 - Simon's Frolic 126
  • 8 - Maxwell 149
  • 9 - Boykin 168
  • 10 - Haynsworth, Carswell, and Blackmun 186
  • 11 - Maxwell (Continued) 199
  • 12 - Taking Stock 214
  • 13 - If the Death Penalty Is to Be Retained at All 229
  • 14 - Powell and Rehnquist 253
  • 15 - Closing In 266
  • 16 - Cruel and Unusual 286
  • Index 329
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