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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 14, 2010 5:00am-6:00am EST

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>> how was not the father and no mother. and mortimer is one of the highest respectability in islam. >> is respected in islam. that's undeniable. >> so for you to say -- what the talmud ought to do -- >> i'm very careful with my words here. he is not divine. that would be polytheism. the attack i have a limited time here. but the talented that is disproven and recognizes that chooses as perfect, not as being said of that. before the invasion of iraq, you have muslims, shiite and sunni living side-by-side into marriage. but then saddam hussein and ramadan was she a person.
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all right, 2006, bring the special forces were brought in with special forces and were apprehended -- >> alright, i get the point. >> what would be what happened -- and then, most people here are intellectual. they know what's going on. >> would you like a response? i get the gist of your question. let me respond to your question. do you ask a want a response? well, first of all, you're wrong about the status of cheeses in islam. he is certainly respected here it is considered a prophet, but he's not divine and that the crucial distinction. and if you really want to push the conversation further, what is the status of hinduism.
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if i were going to grant you there's no conflict between islam and christianity, there's no reason to grant. there is clearly a conflict between islam and hinduism. the polytheism is perfectly anathematize under islam. and there's no debate there and there are a billion hindus who are absolutely wrong only for conversion or the sort. and yes it is true that our invasion of iraq pulled the lid of a tape readership off of these ethnic and religious tensions, but to say that life among sunni and shia as for a thousand years been wonderful if they disregard all of muslim history. it's just not true. ..
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it's not really obvious how he is distorting it, and you really have to split hairs to see how he is distorting it. now, if he were on the shorty regime or a buddhist, it would be absolutely honest how he was distorting his faith. it is to intelligible by the light of islam and to deny that is to simply lie about the content of the koran. >> i'm so sorry we don't have any more time for questions, but he will be back in the back corner.
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thank you very much. [applause] to raise mitigating circumstances internals to spare someone from the needle. over the next hours, you and i will visit with three ramallah authors who studied capital punishment much more extensively than i have and from three
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different ingalls. to my immediate right, from the spiritual and scholarly arena, we have renowned historian thomas cahill. he's best known for offering the hinges of history pherae a seven volume project for which he has already published five books. how the irish civilization desire of the everlasting hill, the world before and after jesus. why the greek matter and mysteries of the middle ages the rise of feminism, science and art from the catholic europe. he has degrees in literature, philosophy, film and dramatic literature. he can speak to the murders languages including greek, hebrew, latin, french and italian. today we will be discussing his book, a saint on death row the story of dominique greenup which i see is a distinguishing departure and amazing complement to his historic theory. on the far right is david dow,
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the witness from the courtroom and from huntsville infant death row. he's an internationally recognized figure in the fight against the death penalty and is a professor of law we a the university of houston law center in his founder and current director of the texas network. he also serves his litigation director of the texas defenders service which is a nonprofit law firm that represents death row defendants. dow published numerous books on judicial reform and the death penalty including executed on a technicality and autobiography of an execution which will be discussing today. in the middle, from the journalist and will we have robert elder who is called a journalist and novelist perception. he's a editor for aol.com and teaches journalism at northwestern university. he's written at "the new york times," the "boston globe," "chicago tribune" and so on.
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his book's cover a range of american popular culture including poker, comic books and film. but today we will be talking about his latest book, last words executed which covers and other cultural phenomenon, the taking of the last words which is one of the rituals in the execution procedure. i would like to begin a visit today with a question for all three writers about beginning. cahill was in the middle of a revered historical series when he wrote a saint on death row. david dow states repeatedly in his book autobiography of an execution that he understands why people would support the death penalty and that he frequently dislikes his own client. and robert elder interactive his examination of more light-hearted topics in order to research a more. so i would like for each of them to take a minute to tell us the definitive moment when they decided that the needed to work in the death penalty debate and why they decided to write a book.
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>> in my case, it was a complete accident. a woman i met in rome who is a retired judge in chicago out of the goodness of her heart, and she has a very good heart, taken up in its last stages defense of dominique green who had been on death row i think almost a decade. he was finally executed in 2004 after 12 years on death row. there was no way that sheila murphy, the judge i met in chicago, could actually save him. so she tried mightily. it was all sold up by then as i explained in the book in much detail which i couldn't possibly go into here, but when she asked
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me i was on a book tour to get home to put up my christmas tree and the last thing i wanted to do is go to death row to see a prisoner, and she asked me what the rest of my tour was and it so happened in did in houston, and she said well then you can visit dominique. [laughter] and i felt well, there is going to be another day it's going to be very hard to make conversations with these guys. if we have nothing in common. he turned out to be completely and utterly different person from anything i could ever possibly imagine. in the many years he had been in prison and made himself into an extraordinary human being. not only was he deeply spiritual, but he was a intellectual in an extremely playful way, and he had just finished reading a book by
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desmond tutu, no future without forgiveness, which was about tutu's truth and reconciliation commission africa. he loved this book, dominique, and i was able to tell him that desmond tutu, or the arch as we call him, is a friend of mine, and the rest of the conversation was about archbishop tutu and what a wonderful book he had written and the other books and what he had done and how he has lived his life and how much domenici admired him as a human being. i was convinced that the end of the first conversation this was going for any reason. and the world as much poor without dominique.
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after the execution, sheila, one of his attorneys, the one i mentioned, and others thought of writing a book, but i could see as the year followed a year it wasn't going to happen. lots of people say they are going to write a book but if they are not writers they are not likely to do so. and i decided dominique deserved a book so i stopped what i was doing and wrote this. and for me, the center of the stokely -- domenici had terrible parents. i don't know that there is any other way of saying this particularly his mother, who was in fact schizophrenic in a way that could only be harmful to children. at the end of dominique's live, although she was not able to save him, sheila murphy became
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his mother, and that is the real story of the book. >> white,, my book, "last words of the excuted" started out as an accident. actually, the film was my first love and i watched a documentary called stevie by steve james to also directed hoop dreams that won an oscar, and i'm getting a little of that away but at the end somebody goes to prison, and the young lady i had been dating said you know what, i'm going to look him up and see how he's doing. and i sort of was looking over her shoulder and i said that's a lot of information, you know, publicly available about this gentleman and says that is nothing. you should see texas and she led me to this amazing website, very encyclopedic everything from appeal process to descriptions
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of the crime to last meals and finally last words and she was up reading this long after i went to bed and after a little digging i was just appalled actually. it was the absence of a work like this that compelled me to do it. my book is not political. it simply asks if these are the most dangerous revival people in society why did the remaining cultural value uphold what they say and then of course what can we learn from them and here i am seven years later. >> i have to the answers to questions. there is the question how i became a death penalty lawyer and then the question how i came to write the book and like the other answers you heard is i
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came to be a death penalty lawyer by accident in the late 1980's. i went to death row in connection with academic work a listing among the faculty at the university of houston and i met a number of death rates and one of them scheduled to be executed two weeks from the data was meeting him and he had received a letter from his lawyer the day before i arrived at the prison in which his lawyer told him he was through working on the case. now at that time in the late 1980's death row inmates did not have a right to have a lawyer represent them in what are called the habeas corpus appeals. they have the right to a lawyer at trial, but then once they entered habeas corpus proceedings the didn't have a right to a lawyer any more. and habeas corpus proceedings are extremely complex.
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i, myself, had never done one before, but i figured if nothing else, the difference between me and the man scheduled to the execution is i had access to a library and access to the colleagues. so i agreed to work on his case, not thinking i would work on other cases. at the time i didn't have particularly strong feelings about the death penalty. it wasn't an issue i spend much time thinking about probably since i had been a freshman in college and took philosophy 101. if somebody had pressed me at the time about how i felt about the death penalty, i probably would have said i support it to the extent i had a view at all. i was a mild death penalty supporter. but i also thought that nobody should face execution without a lawyer. and so i agreed to work on that case and then for a variety of
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reasons, i was attracted to the work and one case led to the second and the second led to the third and they all of a sudden you wake up 20 years later and you become a death penalty lawyer, which brings me to the question i think mitchell was asking which was is there a moment when you decided to write the book, and the answer to that question is that it wasn't an accident and there was in fact a very precise moment, and at the moment was one evening when i came home when i started doing this work i was a single man. i am now married and my wife and i have a son, when can, and i came home one evening after having a bad day at work and if you are a death penalty lawyer in new york you have a lot of bad days at work. texas executes 25, 30, sometimes 40 people year, which means if
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you are the litigation director of an organization that works on death penalty cases, you have a client being executed about every other week. so there are a lot of bad days that you have as a death penalty lawyer and i can, after having one of those bad days and lincoln was 3-years-old, at that time, he is now ten. and i walked into the kitchen and lincoln said dada, you see miss glum. [laughter] 3-year-olds aren't even supposed to know the word glum, much less to have them say that the first sentence when their dad comes home. so i decided i was going to write this book so i could leave on a page at my office all of these things i was bringing home with me. my book isn't really a polemical book about the death penalty. i've written a polemical book about the death penalty, but this isn't a book. this book is about being a death
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penalty lawyer and what it's like to try to put together a light where half of your day is spent representing people who get the most horrible things a human being can do which is to kill somebody, and the other part of the day is spent trying to be a good husband and a good father. so at the moment that lincoln said to me dada, que hasim glum i decided to write this book. >> since 1976 when the supreme court raised the moratorium clich on execution there has been of a 1,190 executions in texas is responsible for 449 of them. that is 37% and more than four times as many as any other state. individually i am going to ask a couple questions about how you might be contributing to the conversations about we start to talk about the death penalty may
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be some times in texas there is a machine that is out of control and we are trying to stop it, so as a man who studied religion and philosophy, how would you say that has contributed to your discretion and do you believe that religious leaders should be part of the conversation against the death penalty? >> i think it should be and i think they are for the most part. except the southern baptist every other major christian denominations in the country to it is opposed to the death penalty. that's quite a lot when you come down to it. but i would say that more than philosophy or religion, my study of history has given me a perspective on the death penalty. when i was writing how the united states civilization i came to the part i had to face that the irish before they were
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evangelized practiced all sorts of horrible things and one of those, human sacrifice. now human sacrifice is hard to come close to come to think about it as a historian if you're going to write about it you have to somehow get yourself inside of the mentality that would allow something like that to happen. and i have to say without going into all of that because it takes a whole chapter of the united states civilization, i believe, i've come to believe the modern death penalty as it is practiced in the one remaining democracy which is practiced, namely hours, is a form of human sacrifice. i don't think it has anything to do with creating a safe or just society. i know people tell themselves that, but i don't believe it
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anymore. one of the greatest faults but his ever been enunciated in the western world was enunciated on the temple of apollo by the greeks and the words in english are know thyself, and that became the motto of the early christian monks and nuns in the desert, know thyself. we don't know ourselves and we tell ourselves story is about ourselves that we find more comforting than the truth. there is no reason to execute people for monetary reasons. it is so much more leasing them in prison forever where later on it is discovered there are actually innocent. there exoneration will mean something.
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there is nothing -- we do not make our society safer. every single executed state has much higher incidence of violence than the mullen executed states. now why might that be? i visited huntsville, where all these executions take place, and where you go to the top of the health and look out for miles and miles and see miles and miles of graves. almost none of them with the person's name on it, just an ex, their prison number and if the date of execution. that is where we put them. and i went down and had launched somewhat against my better judgment in a little cafe at huntsville where whether you are working for the death house or not you almost certainly are working for the people working
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with the death house. it is a very, very strange town. and sitting there at lunch, i turned around and looked up and quandahl was an enormous poster with a bye pointing a rifle to merkley at the mural and the legend beneath it was we don't call 9-1-1. now that of me exactly what goes on in huntsville and what it's about. it's not about justice. it's about finding somebody that we can get rid of, and that makes us feel better about ourselves because we are not just and we know we are not as good as we pretend to be. that said, i feel that underneath all of this is a psychology that is downright terrifying.
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and we ought to come to admit. >> okay, david, as an attorney you had eight range of clients some of them use it you disliked and in your book you are very clever about juxtaposing historians as well as juxtapose in your stories an attorney with your story as a father and you judge yourself pretty harshly sometimes, so i'm wondering is your book about saints or sinners and does that matter and is the question really important in your work? >> maybe i'm a member of the rahm faith. i'm not sure that i believe in saints. so i don't think there are any scenes in the book. maybe there are some on earth and i just haven't met them yet, and actually may be lincoln as right, our son is a saint, but
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this book is about eight things, it's about lincoln and a bunch of people i meet in my work. i do want to say board about the people i meet in my book. central clients in the book is somebody i call henry clay. i changed the name of everybody in the book but henry quaker is an actual client of mine, and henry quaker was executed and henry quaker is somebody who i think was innocent. the dna is never going to prove that he was innocent, but i believe he was innocent. i don't believe that about most of my clients. i have represented more than 100 death row inmates, and i am not somebody who believes that most of them were innocent. i believe that five, six, maybe seven or or or innocent. some are still alive. but a number of years ago, i wrote an editorial in "the new
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york times" arguing the focus on whether we've executed somebody who's innocent is a mistake. some of you might know that there is a trial, a sort of trial going on in texas right now called a court of inquiry, and it's an inquiry into the question of somebody whose name is bling him and is executed in texas for committing arson. in fact didn't commit arson, and the lawyers representing mr. willingham's family are trying to show there was no arson and if there was no arson the mr. willingham was innocent. even if they prove there was no arsine and for those of us that have been paying attention to this issue and this case, they have long since already proved there was no arson but even if they prove there was no arson in this sense of having a judge state so, they are still going to be people, some of them who
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worked on the street in the state capital who will insist willingham was guilty because it is not a dna case and began have case after case of people who are innocent but there isn't dna to show they are innocent so there's an opportunity for somebody to say i don't really believe he's innocent. i think he did it and that is what is we to happen in the willingham case. so i wrote an editorial are giving all of this attention really is a distraction because the issue that we ought to be paying attention to is a version of the issue tom was talking about ought with isn't precisely the same, the issue we ought to be paying attention to is who are the people we execute in the u.s.? i used to say if you show me somebody on death row i can tell you his biography. he's somebody who grew up in the circumstances that most of the people in this room can of
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remotely imagine. they are people who have not had any human connection until they are life in prison or on death row. there are probably people who are represented at trial by a portable leaders. if they didn't have a portable lawyers at their trial, then they were represented by lawyers who didn't have adequate resources and didn't have access to adequate resources. they may well be members of an ethnic minority, they probably killed somebody who was white, because those people who get executed in texas and most people who get executed in the u.s. killed somebody who is white just to interrupt my tirade with a statistic. [laughter] blacks and whites are victims of homicide in about equal numbers in the u.s.. in the history of the modern death penalty in the u.s. 80% of
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the people who've been executed have been executed for killing a white person. that tells you everything you need to know about whether the death penalty regime is a racist regime. i thought and argued that this focus on innocence was a distraction and we should really be talking and all of these other issues instead, and then i turn around and write a book where the central inmate is somebody who i think is innocent. now there is another inmate shall refer to who wasn't innocent but the main character is, and the reason that i did that frankly is because, as i said at the outset, my book isn't really a polemical look about them to death penalty is about being a death penalty lawyer, and i will tell you honestly that it's a lot harder to represent somebody who you think is innocent.
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when you represent somebody who you know to be guilty, you don't want your own client to be executed no matter how you feel about the death penalty. you do the work long enough, as i have done, you even chollet don't want anybody to be executed. you understand the death penalty system that we have today doesn't work. but when you come home at the end of the day, when one of your clients has been executed, you walk into your kitchen and your son says you look glum to read you go upstairs and beat yourself up for a while about all of the things you might have done that you didn't do, the things you did that you shouldn't have done, things that he might have done differently, the argument that you could have spent just a little more time tweaking. you do all those things after every execution, and then you turn the page and say i might
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have made the last mistake, but my client made the first one. my client committed the murder which is the reason that all i am now finding myself in this position where i am beating myself up. you can't do that when you have a client you think is innocent. there isn't another page to term. you are left with questioning of your own decisions. and that was the reason that i thought that this book would be a more honest book if i could find a client to feature who i believe didn't commit the crime that he was executed. >> could i add a piece to what was said? just to remove it from the death penalty for a moment and think over the last two years we have seen a whole succession of people in our newspapers,
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bankers, who collectively have destroyed the fortune of millions of people. how many of them do you think are going to spend a lot of time in prison? mabey none. why? because they are rich men and they will hire good attorneys and therefore they will not go to prison by and large. this whole thing is about who has money for council, because if you saw with the council was like for the poor by and large, there are exceptions, there are wonderful exceptions, people who have devoted their lives to defending the poor and are extremely good and smart human beings, but by and large, if the guy couldn't make it on his own who have the time is off somewhere who becomes the lawyer
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for the poor kids who have no way of paying for council and the other thing we should remember about that is we are talking about kids, 18, 19, 20-year-olds, and you know where they came from? the came from the schizophrenic mother that dominique green has come and the way to discipline him and her other children if they did something she was displeased was to hold their right hand over a candle flame. just think about that for a minute. one of the great problems is not just what we are doing in bill law, but that we -- how did we become such an unimaginative society that we can't figure out how to intervene in the lives of such children more effectively than we do?
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>> okay. robert, i admire the way he vehemently proclaims it is a political book and did you do a great job of mentioning both stances we our methods and executing people sometimes fail and then some of the people we execute have low iq is and probably shouldn't have been executed for that very reason, when you sort of mention the details the you don't comment on and to give a description of the crime these people have been accused of and a very straightforward not a gruesome description at all. do you try to stay away from it, but i did notice marmaduke stevenson, a quaker, who was basically executed for promoting the repeal of the form and because we didn't to believe in religious freedom back then, and you close the look with final words in which he apologizes and
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confesses and says i hope that my death will bring peace to the victim's family. were you conscious of the implied message of opening and closing the books that way or can you explain which final words because i am sure there are thousands you could include how did you go about doing that? >> since 1608, because the book goes all the way back then we executed 15,000 people. not that many in the book about 900, about a thousand, and really i just wanted to find sort of a representative sample what people had to say and why and the book is vague and chronological and begins with hanging and then we end up with lethal injection, and i've been doing the subject for long enough i can probably tell you
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if i heard when they were executed especially during the 1920's and 30's where every other person says be where of liquor and that women. [laughter] so i wanted to show how the evolution of the taking of last words brought us where we are today because when executions were a public event you have a sense of oration and in the last words people were talking to a crowd. the gentleman who begins the hanging chapter is a guy named gus johnson, and he says this is gus johnson, to you have all heard of as a bad man. i have been a bad boy all wildlife. i want my friends in the audience to let me hang. these amazing last words.
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and what i can over the centuries his last words kind of conform to what we all recognize as the five stages of grief, arguing, denial, acceptance, what have you, but then there is the other sort of strange spark of humanity where three people in the book to use their last breath on the earth to cheer for their favorite football team. [laughter] there is at least one cowboy, wanna readers and one cleveland brown. no baseball, no hockey, just football. but also wanted to give a voice to people who were not listened, again i wrote this book because there is a boy, there is no examination of last words. we have more examination of the folks on death row than from politicians, actors, people who we value in society,
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traditionally. these are people who have appointments with their makers because we as a society schedule them and we support it is a why were they not collected? and i kind of sort of really find it strange and odd we have a huge number of last words, the even albert einstein's last words we don't know mostly because they didn't speak german. so we have again this conundrum and the way i set up the book because i did not want to become and i keep noticing i didn't want it to be a catalog of words, i didn't want it to be one of the true crime books. the way it is a range of last words and then their name because i didn't want people hunting for names they knew like serial killers also those folks are in the book but i wanted the words to speak for themselves and the way i range the book is you hear their words and oftentimes you feel compelled by
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then, if you or empathetic of them and then you give their name and then you find out what they did, which really changes how you feel about the last words. so hopefully i've added to the complexity of the debate. i consider it a personal triumph the book has been very well reviewed sort of all over from the london to the economist to the new yorker, and each one of them accused me of being on either side of the issue, a small victory. >> you did your job then. okay. one of last question before we start taking questions from the audience and i want to go back to when you were talking about, david, the sort of let down, when you lose somebody and they're executed and yet there are these string of cases you have to keep going. you have to bring yourself to get up and go, and i know that when truman wrote in cold blood, which is the first book we had in a compelling story that looks at a capital case.
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that book made his career and made him famous and yet it also will win him because he couldn't find the subject at the same level that he could write about again. he was never able to finish another book and even harper lee who wrote to kill a mockingbird and researched in cold blood never wrote another book. as we sort of a destroyed both of them as writers and i wonder if each of you can sort of talk about how you walked away from this project emotionally how did you get past it and go again and do you have a current project that are on the table? >> i think celebrities and cocaine did it. [laughter] i can't afford cocaine -- [laughter] no, again, my first love is film and in fact i have a book in january called the film that changed my life. i talked to 30 directors about the movie that made them want to become a director, so i talked
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to danny boyle about apocalypse now and kimberly pierce about the godfather, and was a great joy and i sort of did it in tandem with this book because as these gentlemen know it is hard to spend that much time with such a dark subject. so movies. [laughter] i don't know if i will never get over the story of dominique and green. when i gave a presentation i never get through of breaking down. i thought when i started giving the presentations that eventually, but i do feel like i am reliving parts of the life every time i go back and recreate in my own mind and talk about.
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i doubt i will ever write a book like this again. my books are honestly written for the history books are written for generally educated people, they are of different vocabulary which i don't for a second withhold. i figure you can hack it or not, but this book i try to make as simple as possible and short as possible. i knew that people would shy away from it. who the hell wants to read it about possess that. [laughter] so i made it short and tried to make it with the design in such a way that this won't hurt you, you can pick it up and buy it because it is going to hurt you, there is no way around it, but at least i wanted to be as clear
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as possible so anyone who can read it can actually read it. but there is no reason for me to do another book like this at the same time i don't expect to never let go of dominique green's life. >> do you think this is your way of keeping from the line? >> i think that he is teaching himself a lot in a way. as i say toward the end of the book, i don't want to be too traumatic about that or go off the end of things and get in trouble with the guy at the end. i don't think he needs any help from me. >> i was in prison and two weeks ago and a death row inmate asked
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me whether i would please witnessed his execution. i don't like to be asked whether i will witness an execution because i can't think of a good reason to say no. i have tried to times in the more than 20 years i have been a death penalty lawyer to stop being a death penalty lawyer. the first time i stopped for about ten months, the second time it was about ten days so i realized after the second time i'm not going to be able to stop being a death penalty lawyer. why can't i stop being a death penalty lawyer? if i were to stop being a death penalty lawyer, 99% of my
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clients would end up in perfectly competent hands in the hands of lawyers who will do or what to do at least as good a job as i am going to do. but 1%, they would get caught by somebody who is dreadful, who is doing the work for a paycheck if she or he is doing the work at all, and that is the nightmare that keeps me awake and doing the work, the one client who if i walk away is going to end up with somebody who doesn't care about him at all. doesn't care about saving him and doesn't care about his
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family, doesn't care about law. that is why i keep doing the work. i probably also have to write another book. i said in answer to jill's first question the reason i wrote this one is so i could leave the work of the office and not bring it home and sometimes i get asked whether it works and i always say well, it's a process, and so i've gotten to the point i think the process is going to require another book. schenectady of anybody in the audience who would like to ask questions? >> in the state of texas the debate seems to be controlled from the language of the the date. the language of the debate about the death penalty is controlled by the conservative party. you are tough on crime if you are in favor of eliminating the
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death penalty it is just a nonstarter if you are a politician and one to go anywhere in the state of texas and i wonder if he can think of a way to refrain the debate, how would a politician even try to bring up the death penalty elimination? is there a positive way of doing that? >> let me say a quick word about that, because in my office we have a trial project, the trial project works on cases of the consultant cases, the trial headed by somebody named john island and catherine and let me tell you how they are successful than the epaulet officers. they are by going to the district attorney telling the district attorney what it's going to cost to get a death sentence. i think really that in america whether you are a democrat or
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republican, almost all issues are ultimately decided on the basis of cost. cost is what politicians care about, and we have had more success in death penalty cases in texas by focusing on cost, telling district attorney's look, you can spend a million dollars on this case and try to get a death sentence. you might get it and you might fail. if you get it there is a chance that it's clear to be reversed on appeal. if it's reversed on appeal you were going to have to seek death again probably because you saw fit the first time but what you can do right now is you can let the defendant pleads guilty, you can agree that he will serve the rest of his life in prison and half a million dollars that you can spend fixing the potholes in the streets and bond things for kids in schools and bad neighborhoods and in the end of the day it is going to be a fiscal argument, not an oral argument that is why we get rid
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of the death penalty in the u.s. >> i've read "the autobiography of an execution, sort of a troublesome book. i was wondering what your thoughts are about judge keller judicial review and conclusion about the law clerk office closing on her time with an appeal eminent. is that an ethical procedural conflict more common than we realize or is that an aberration of just? >> i'm not a politician, and so m not trained on how to answer a question that is not the when you ask about pretend like an answering the question is when you asked so i will just tell you i'm going to answer a different question from the one you asked. let me first tell everybody who
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doesn't know what the question is about we represented different inmate by the name of michael who was executed in september of 2007, and on the day that he was executed, the supreme court that morning agreed to hear a challenge to the lethal injection pravachol being used in kentucky, and we had been filing challenges of the lethal injection for the call in texas and elsewhere for a couple of years at that point but had never gotten any traction. and so after to the supreme court on the morning of september 25th, 2007 agreed that it was going to decide the constitutionality of the lethal injection pravachol we started to work on filing an additional appeal for michael brochard, who was scheduled to get executed that evening, focusing on the fact that the texas lethal injection protocol is for all
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intensive purposes the same as the kentucky protocol that the supreme court had agreed to review. and for a bunch of reasons i probably shouldn't discuss, we were not able to get the documents completed by 5:00, the texas court of criminal appeals down the street here closes at 5:00 and at that time they didn't have electronic filing. they do now. the bottom line is that we didn't get a lethal injection pleadings filed in time and michael brochard got executed that even in -- evening. as a result there were other people who filed a grievance against the chief judge of the texas court of criminal appeals having to do with her judgment that the court would close at 5:00 and the question asked me
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to comment on that. i don't want to comment on that. [laughter] here is what i want to tell you. but i want to tell you because this is connected to a point tom was making earlier to the one to tell you is michael brochard was mentally retarded. michael had a full-scale i.q. of 64. we were litigating his mental retardation up until the very end of the day the supreme court decided to address the question negative delete the constitutionality of lethal injection. why had he not gotten relief of some sort on the basis of the fact that he's mentally retarded? the supreme court of the united states said states cannot execute mentally retarded and mentally retarded is defined as a full-scale iq of 70 or below. he was a full-scale i.q. of 64. he was outside the margin of error yet he was facing execution. how did that happen? i will tell you how that happened. he was represented by a
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well-meaning lawyer, but the well meaning a lawyer had parkinson's disease. the well-meaning lawyer knew he had parkinson's disease and he asked the court that appointed him to please let him off the case and a point my office instead, and the court said no, so he asked a second time and the second time he asked, the court wasn't answering, so the time was going past for filing the appeal and this lawyer who asked to get off the case because he realized his own limitations was watching the clock and the court hadn't let him off yet so finally he reached the conclusion the court wasn't going to let him off the case and he needed to do something before the clock ran out on the appeal and he filed pleadings but the lawyer was in paris, he knew he was impaired and the pleadings he filed didn't even include michael's i.q. score. the judges on the court of
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appeals who were asked to hold the execution of somebody that is mentally retarded or confronted with documents that did not include the i.q. score that demonstrated michael was readily become mentally retarded and the reason the papers didn't include that is because a lawyer was impaired but the lawyer knew he was in paris and asked not one quote but to courts to get off. so all of the attention to the case has been on chariton copper's lisalyn junction and we close at five and by not going to tell people what they should or shouldn't be interested in but i think it's also important to know that there is another story in that case which reflects an unsavory light on an aspect of the process that not really anybody has paid attention to so far. >> [inaudible] it was ronald first with a court
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of appeals in the fifth circuit. >> my question is for david dow, but before i ask my question i want to invite everybody in the audience, i work for an organization called witness to innocence in the texas auditorium in the austin and i what everyone here to join us on october 40th on the front steps of the texas capital with the 11th annual march to stop executions and we will have five exonerated death row inmates to spend more than 40 years of their life on death row for crimes they did not commit. they are going to be here and i wanted to invite everyone to join us on october 40th at 2 p.m. in front of the capitol. [applause] for any questions you have to go [inaudible] and i read your book when it came out right after it came out and in part that was very
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interesting for me is the part the section you talk about your son and there is a part where you say you were talking to him and he said he doesn't want animals to donley and like a fight-year-old kid and he decided that he is not going to become. i was just calling to ask you is he a vegetarian or not any more? [laughter] >> lane -- lincoln used to eat chicken nuggets and he asked where they came from and i told him chickens and he said to the have to kill the chickens and we told him yes and he said that's it, i'm not going to eat them anymore. he was freed and he hasn't eaten meat since. he's now 10-years-old and is still the vegetarian which is particularly impressive because both my wife and i agree with
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him philosophically and morally, but like you we have been unable to get that far. [laughter] >> are there any more questions? >> i've been studying the metaphysical topics lately and i wonder if you all can comment on the spiritual aspect of executed prisoners who had experience with, people charged with capital crime, people who committed capital crime. i think the world of humanity and our legal system and morality and society is very important. and what is also part of this process i would think are the spiritual experiences of the people involved. so if you would comment on that, please. >> i will start with a quick answer and that is at least in this country last words, you take someone's last words that exists in a christian from work,
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said it was an example, it was a chance for that person if he or she had not confessed to save their sole, the whole shakespearean thing that wouldn't die with a stay on their soul putative also serves a legal function which is it is the last chance to prove the system correct if they do not confess to that point. >> so, there is that element and then a lot of people find the in prison might as well so they take their last breath and plead for mercy. the man who was killed, who was murdered for which dominique greenup was executed was a man named angela stralbs and his
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family recorded messages to the governor and the pardon board asking that dominique not be executed. they didn't really believe that he had been the murderer and i'm pretty sure they were right but more than that, they really didn't think anyone should be executed as this was the wife and the sons of strab, the widow, who then had a stroke and was an aide, in a rehabilitated and she said because there

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