Fighting for Their Lives by Susannah Sheffer
Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys

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Synopsis

How do attorneys who represent clients facing the death penalty cope with the stress and trauma of their work? Through conversations with twenty of the most experienced and dedicated post-conviction capital defenders in the United States, Fighting for Their Lives explores this emotional territory for the first time. What it is like for these capital defenders in their last visits or phone calls with clients who are about to be taken to the execution chamber? Or the next mornings, in their lives with their families, in their dreams and flashbacks and moments alone in the car? What is it like to do this work year after year? (These attorneys had, on average, spent nineteen years doing capital defense.)


Through vivid interviews amplified by the author's responses and commentary, these attorneys reveal aspects of their internal experience that they have never talked about until now. How do capital defenders manage the weight of the responsibility they carry? To what extent do they experience symptoms of trauma in the aftermath of losing a client to execution or as a result of the cumulative effects of engaging in capital defense work? What motivates them, and what do they draw upon, in order to keep engaging in such emotionally demanding work? Have they considered practicing other types of law? What can we learn from capital defenders not only about the deep and long-term effects of the death penalty but also about broader human questions of hope, effectiveness, success, failure, strength, fragility, and perseverance?

 

About Susannah Sheffer

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Susannah Sheffer, author of three previous books, is Project Director at Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights.
 
Published March 15, 2013 by Vanderbilt University Press. 224 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Crime, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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An advocate for the rights of families of murder victims finds common ground with lawyers working to reverse death sentences.

Dec 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Fighting for Their Lives: Ins...

Publishers Weekly

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Sheffer (In a Dark Time: A Prisoner’s Struggle for Healing and Change) takes readers beyond the courtroom and execution chambers to explore how capital defense attorneys cope when they can’t save a client.

Dec 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Fighting for Their Lives: Ins...

Kirkus Reviews

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An advocate for the rights of families of murder victims finds common ground with lawyers working to reverse death sentences.

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Fighting for Their Lives: Ins...

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