Book cover for 'Litigating in the Shadow of Death'
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Litigating in the Shadow of Death

Defense Attorneys in Capital Cases
Welsh S. White
An essential guide to the litigation of capital cases, by one of the most accomplished experts in the field


An absorbing account of the ways in which defense attorneys represent capital defendants, Litigating in the Shadow of Death brings to light the paramount role these attorneys have played in shaping the modern system of capital punishment. Author Welsh White explains how attorneys' skills and abilities influence the determination of which capital defendants are sentenced to death. Litigating in the Shadow of Death shows how highly skilled defense attorneys are able to avoid death sentences for their clients in even the most aggravated cases, and how a group of dedicated lawyers have begun to transform the public's perception of capital punishment by revealing the extent to which innocent defendants are being sentenced to death.

Professor White's descriptions of exemplary cases will provide an invaluable guide for lawyers planning to represent capital defendants, and students trying to understand our criminal justice system. His detailed, journalistic accounts of recent death penalty trials will also appeal to lay readers and activists seeking to understand who receives the death penalty and why.

The late Welsh S. White was Bessie McKee Walthour Endowed Chair and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh.

Praise / Awards

  • "With its compelling narratives of cases, strategies, and ethical dilemmas, Litigating in the Shadow of Death is difficult to put down. Professor White makes effective use not only of judicial decisions and scholarly writings but also of trial transcripts and interviews of more than 30 defense attorneys and other practitioners in capital cases. This path-breaking book encapsulates the experience of the most respected capital defenders in America and shows how they save even the worst of the worst from execution. It also shows how sleeping and otherwise incompetent lawyers bring death sentences to their clients. Litigating in the Shadow of Death explores the lawyers' tasks at every stage of the criminal process—investigation, client interviewing, conferring with victims' families, plea bargaining, trial, appeal, and post-conviction proceedings. "
    —Albert W. Alschuler, Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Criminology, University of Chicago

  • "A unique and profoundly important contribution to the literature on the death penalty. White allows the leading capital defense attorneys to speak in their own voices. His work reveals a new source of arbitrariness in the death system – whether the penalty is imposed turns more on who is your lawyer than on how evil was your deed or your character. Litigating in the Shadow of Death offers concrete guidelines for better lawyering, protection of the innocent, and understanding the artistry of the best capital attorneys. This is vivid, gripping stuff."
    —Andrew Taslitz, Professor of Law, Howard University

  • "Anyone who cares about capital punishment should read this compelling, lucid account of the obstacles they face and the strategies they adopt."
    —John Parry, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

  • "Welsh White has written another excellent book on the death penalty - this one on how defense attorneys in capital cases successfully prevent the state from executing their clients. Based on original research, Litigating in the Shadow of Death is informative and insightful. This is a book that all serious students of American capital punishment must read."
    —Richard Leo, University of California, Irvine

  • "A most illuminating book by a splendid writer and an eminent critic of the capital punishment system."
    —Yale Kamisar, Professor of Law, University of San Diego

News, Reviews, Interviews

Review Law and Politics Book Review | 2/1/2007

Product Details

  • 232 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02159-8

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