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May 12, 2004



Great essay.

Cases like this should come as no surprise to proponents of the death penalty. And by the way, I do not oppose the death penalty on principle; I just don't believe that lack of moral opposition to it requires me to ignore the glaring evidence that our system is frought with massive and intolerable problems, as many death-mongering advocates do.

The fact is that the typical death penalty case in America does not involve Jeffrey Dahmer and top-notch prosecutors with white hats. A far more common case involves a murder proven largely by circumstantial or testimonial evidence (rather than physical evidence), in small, rural counties where defense funds are lacking and prosecutors' political ambitions are soaring.


I read "May God Have Mercy" several years ago and it helped solidify my opposition to the death penalty. There are too many cases like Coleman's for anyone, let alone a former prosecutor and defense attorney like me, to have confidence that the U.S. doesn't execute innocent people through its criminal justice system. Ironically, it may be that the current revelations about abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers and likely other U.S. intelligence and civilian contractors may shake the average U.S. citizen's faith in our system enough that needed reforms, such as abolition of the death penalty, may gain support. I certainly hope so. Keep up the good struggle. Where would this country be without public defenders like you.

mark costelo

Merely having less than the best legal defense does not make a man innocent. Since prisons are full of 'innocent' men, it is probable that in fact some are. Hopefully the newly tested DNA will bring this case to a conclusion.

tom bisset

How do you feel about Roger Coleman now????
I truly hope you were "shaking & crying" over the victim this time......coleman was a sick psychopath who took great pleasure in knowing even after he was gone he could still play with and hurt people like should realize the author of that book had an opinion and like any ngood writer he was persuasive . it is a shame you did not expose yourself to all the published facts....i read both and came to the conclusion he was the killer......& a socio-path. I hope you are more discerning in the future. Thank You.

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