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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is about more than capital punishment
Clive Stafford Smith is a name I know and respect, but I didn't know what to expect from this book. What I found was a compelling read, a book I didn't want to put down until it was finished.

The core of the book is the story of Kris Maharaj, a British businessman convicted in Miami of the murder of Derrick Moo Young and his son Duane in 1986. For Derrick's...
Published on 24 July 2012 by Maggie

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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Injustice by Clive Stafford Smith
Having not read the paperback edition I am unable to comment on that, but from my researches into the saintly figure of Clive Stafford Smith I have no doubt that it is more of the same.

This book professes to be an investigation into a miscarriage of justice; in reality it is both a ludicrous conspiracy theory and a polemic against the death penalty. Stafford...
Published 15 months ago by Mr. A. Baron


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is about more than capital punishment, 24 July 2012
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Clive Stafford Smith is a name I know and respect, but I didn't know what to expect from this book. What I found was a compelling read, a book I didn't want to put down until it was finished.

The core of the book is the story of Kris Maharaj, a British businessman convicted in Miami of the murder of Derrick Moo Young and his son Duane in 1986. For Derrick's murder he was given life imprisonment. For the murder of Duane he was sentenced to death. Clive Stafford Smith takes us through the whole story of Kris's involvement with the Moo Youngs, and how he came to be convicted; in doing so he lifts the lid on every aspect of the American legal system and what can go wrong with it, including the Defenders, the Prosecutors, the Police, the Witnesses (including the Experts), the Jury and the various legal processes, from arrest through trial and appeal to execution. And we get an insight into how illicit drugs are trafficked, and how (in all likelihood) they led to the conviction of Maharaj for murders which (in all likelihood) he did not commit. I have to say "in all likelihood" because all of his appeals have failed, and he long ago reached the end of the legal road, despite the fact that Clive Stafford Smith has produced enough evidence to convince any reasonable person that Kris Maharaj is an innocent man. (And, in case you're wondering, not just innocent of these murders, but also innocent of any other criminal offence.)

What appals me, as a UK citizen, is the strong similarity which Clive Stafford Smith points out between the US legal system and ours in the UK. We no longer indulge in judicial killing, but there are many depressing ways in which the UK matches the US in promoting injustice, and as a result keeps people in prison who really should not be there. Just one example: the procedural bar, which is applied in the UK appeal system as strictly as in the US. If your lawyer had access (or could have had access, if he were bright enough) to information which he then failed to use at the time of your trial - for whatever reason, with or without your knowledge - you may not use that information in any subsequent appeal: so, as Clive Stafford Smith says, "if you have an inept lawyer, your chances of a fair result at trial are slim, and you have little or no chance of winning a new trial on appeal: your lawyer 'waived' the claims by failing to raise them during the original trial, so you are 'procedurally barred'." The US appeals system does not want to hear about evidence that proves you innocent, yet it is comparatively easy for a person, whether innocent or guilty, to win an appeal on the grounds of a technical impropriety in the original trial. Read Michael Naughton's book The Criminal Cases Review Commission: Hope for the Innocent? for proof that the procedural bar works equally effectively (?!) in the UK.

Clive Stafford Smith follows the history of Kris Maharaj almost up to the present. His is a case that went wrong in every conceivable way from start to finish. Before we even start on Chapter 1, we learn that he escaped the death penalty and is still in jail after 26 years, but the reader is left wondering whether death would have been the kinder option. If you are interested in discovering how the "justice" system simply doesn't work, this book will be an eye-opener.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars US OR UK JUDICIAL SYSTEM ?., 6 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America (Paperback)
The book highlights the huge difference between the legal system in operation between our two countries.
The law applied in the uk i think would on the evidence provided have cleared Kris Maharaj of the charge of murder
The law applied in the different states of the USA has left this man languishing on death row.
The author has explained these differences in great detail using his personal expertise in the British legal system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure enjoyable is the right word... very powerful., 2 April 2014
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This is not an easy book to read. It's hard work. And the subject matter is challenging. I was bought to tears more than once. Clive writes with an honesty that is quite startling at times. I can't say I enjoyed the book, and I'm not sure that is it's aim anyhow. I was moved, provoked to anger, sorrow, action and shame all at once. Well worth a read and I'm pleased I've done so.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pity and terror, 24 July 2012
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T. Vicary "Tim Vicary" (York, England) - See all my reviews
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This is a wonderful, shocking, compelling book. I have read many legal thrillers, including those by John Grisham (who endorses this book) but it is one thing to read about injustice, legal corruption and police incompetence in a fictional setting, and quite another to see it ruthlessly, thoroughly exposed, in a real case which has led to the British defendant, Kris Maharaj, spending 26 years of his life in an American prison, much of it under the threat of the electric chair; and all of this for a crime which, as the author explains in compelling detail, he almost certainly did not commit. 'Almost certainly' is a feeble phrase, but I use it to point out that at the very least there is reasonable doubt here, and that in itself should have been more than enough to set this man free a quarter of a century ago. Any reasonable system would have done just that.

But as the author explains, in well researched, shocking detail, the American legal system just doesn't work that way. Take just one appalling detail among hundreds: when an appeal is finally arranged before a new jury, that jury is forbidden to hear any suggestions that the man making the appeal might possibly be innocent. That's right - the word 'innocent' cannot be used in court! So when a British MP, Peter Bottomley, tells the jury 'This is a miscarriage of justice' his video link is cut off and the defence lawyer threatened with jail!

What has that got to do with justice? Exactly. That is the question that comes up again and again, throughout this terrible story. As I was reading, I often laughed out loud, not because what I read was funny in an amusing way, but because it was totally absurd, unbelievable, like a tale from Alice in Wonderland or a justice system designed by Franz Kafka. All the way through I kept thinking, 'this is absurd, it's terrible, it can't possibly get any worse'. But it does. Why? Because every absurdity, every injustice, has its own logic, its own level of humanity. There are very few really evil people in this story; just a system that with a maze of rules which, as everyone follows them, leads to a result that it totally inhumane.

And Clive Stafford Smith, who has spent much of his life working for pitifully small rewards for clients on Death Row, describes exactly how and why all this happens. He is like the little guy in John Grisham's stories - the lawyer who cares more about justice than money - but Stafford Smith, and few others like him, are actually real, thank goodness. God send me a lawyer who cares, if I ever get into trouble.

It would be nice to think things are better in Britain; and certainly some things are different. We don't have the death penalty, or judges and prosecutors who stand for election, campaigning on how harsh they can be. But we've had our own scandals: the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four; the strange business (also involving Stafford Smith) of the courts and Binyam Mohammed.

And on a smaller scale, this book reminded me of another British case, less well known, not quite so cruel or nearly lethal as the injustice suffered by Kris Maharaj, but still similar in the sense of an innocent man trapped in a legal spider's web which he cannot resist or escape: the case of of John Bartlett, well described in his book Chequered Justice. Here too I kept thinking: 'this can't really happen, can't get any worse.' But it does.

Read Clive Stafford Smith's book, 'superbly written' as John Grisham says, and then, for a comparison, read John Bartlett's book too. Both endorsed by Michael Mansfield QC.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!, 10 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America (Paperback)
Huge fan of Clive Stafford Smith and his passion for justice. This book is insightful and shows you a completely different side to the 'justice' system in America. It makes you think and change your opinion and also emphasise with Krishna as a human being. Clive does a fantastic job showcasing the continuing fight against the american legal system and his passion in fighting for real justice. An inspirational book that is a must read for any criminal justice and human rights activist!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally fascinating, 10 Jan. 2014
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traveller (stirling, scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America (Paperback)
This book provides an insight into the workings of the justice system in the USA using a specific trial as the focus for the narrative. It is meticulously researched and written and holds your attention page after page. It also highlights how the justice system can be less than objective - maybe not so surprising given it involves a wide range of people with their own perceptions, opinions and agendas.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into American justice, 26 Aug. 2012
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I don't think I ever want to live in America as this book explicitly demonstrates that the legal system there is flawed especially in terms of capital cases. Be in the wrong place at the wrong time and if the police/district attorney want to convict you, they shalll! The use of one of clive's cases as the thread to the book helps to give a continued story to it but allows him to add in examples of other cases.

I still remember watching. "Fourteen days in May" documentary, in my mid teens, when he tried, but failed, to save a young man from the gas chamber. It doesn't seem an awful lot has changed since then in terms of legal processes. For example how can a legal system in a free and democratic system allow a judge to rule that "yes the defence lawyer did fall asleep during the trial but not during important moments"!! Just one of the main examples that Clive highlights but he also goes into the underpinning philosophy of the legal system to try to explain why such ridicoulos moments can occur.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-blowing experience, 29 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America (Paperback)
This lively book tapped into all the reasons why the American justice system is so seriously flawed. Yes, it concentrated on just one particular case, but this case demonstrated the problem areas with the American system at so many levels. The author, at first hand, has dealt with countless cases over the past twenty years and demonstrates the flaws simply and factually, leaving the reader to pick up any legalistic additions by reading the copious numbered notes that were made available. This, of course, adds to the considerable story of Kris Maharaj who has undoubtedly been unjustly treated. Sadly this case is yet to be completed which also demonstrates the depth of flaws that the convicted have to undertake in the American system.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 11 May 2014
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I originally downloaded the sample thinking it would be the same nonsense. I was immediately gripped by the sad, unjust story that unravelled. A must read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Injustice - a lawyer speaks out, 31 Aug. 2012
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Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America

A controversial, thought-provoking book by someone who knows only his subject only too well. Makes the shocking assertion that innocence is no guarantee of escaping a death sentence or life-without-parole 'reprieve' in the US justice system.
For a fuller review, see my blog [...] - Injustice - and, if the subject interests you, keep an eye out for 'Survivor on Death Row,' soon to be published as an e-book. Details will be on the same website.
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Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America
Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America by Clive Stafford Smith (Paperback - 22 Aug. 2013)
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