A brilliant and unprecedented work, Chasing Justice is the riveting chronicle of how a smalltown murder became one of the worst cases of prosecutorial misconduct in American history---and sent the author, an innocent man, to hell for twenty-two harrowing years. Kerry Max Cook is one of the longest-tenured death-row prisoners to be freed: This is his unbelievable story and the only fi rsthand account of its kind.
Wrongfully convicted of killing a young woman in Texas, Cook was sentenced to death in 1978 and served two decades on death row, in a prison system so notoriously brutal and violent that in 1980 a federal court ruled that serving time in Texas's jails was "cruel and unusual punishment." As scores of men around him were executed, Cook relentlessly battled a legal system that wanted him dead; meanwhile he fought daily to survive amid unspeakable conditions and routine assaults. When an advocate and a crusading lawyer joined his struggle in the 1990s, a series of retrials was forced. At last, in November 1996, Texas's highest appeals court threw out Cook's conviction, citing overwhelming evidence of police and prosecutorial misconduct.
And finally in the spring of 1999 long-overlooked DNA evidence was tested and it linked another man to the rape and murder for which Cook had been convicted. Today, Cook is a free man and the proud father of a young son.
A shocking look inside death row, a legal thriller, and an inspirational story of one man's ultimately triumphant fight against extreme adversity, Chasing Justice is a landmark work, written with the powerful authenticity of Cook's own hand. It will forever unsettle our view of the American justice system.
Despite some amateurish prose, this depressing account of an unfair criminal justice system that almost claimed the author's life deserves a wide readership alongside John Grisham's The Innocent Man. After being arrested in 1977 for a brutal mutilation murder in Tyler, Tex., that he did not commit, Cook, then 21 years old, was repeatedly railroaded by corrupt police officers, prosecutors and judges bent on ignoring all the rules to get him convicted. After his first trial, Cook ended up on death row and underwent a hellish ordeal behind bars; two subsequent trials ended in a mistrial and another conviction and death sentence. The subtitle notwithstanding, Cook's eventual freedom was largely due to a team of dedicated attorneys, working from the Capital Punishment Project or pro bono, who fought tooth-and-nail to obtain his freedom in the late 1990s. Readers familiar with similar travesties, such as the Randall Dale Adams case chronicled in Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line, will be outraged anew, especially at the authorities' deliberate disregard of another suspect, linked to the crime by an eyewitness and DNA evidence. (Feb. 27) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.