DEFENDING A SERIAL KILLER: THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL

Nonfiction

The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States guarantee the right against self-incrimination, the right to remain silent, and the right to counsel.

 

A crime wave swept California in the late 1970s. Several young girls were abducted, raped, and murdered. Michael Dee Mattson was convicted of these crimes and sentenced to death.

Law clerk by day, family man by night.

In 1982, Jim Potts—a brilliant, idealistic law student—is honored when one of his professors recruits him to assist in writing a death penalty appeal on behalf of a serial killer.

Potts discovers a loophole in the case that had somehow been overlooked. One that could not only get Mattson off death row, but once presented to the Supreme Court of California, could release him to rape and murder again. When Potts confides in his pregnant wife, she says if Mattson goes free, their marriage is over. But if Potts quits the case, or withholds information, he violates his duty to client and Constitution and risks his career before it even begins.

A moral dilemma with no good way out.

To avoid losing his family and releasing pure evil back into the world, Potts must be smarter than his options. He must find a way to keep his family together, fulfill his duties, and keep Mattson behind bars.

But can he?