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Conviction

Cover of Conviction

Conviction

Christopher Paget Series, Book 4
When the body of nine-year old Thuy Sen is found in the San Francisco Bay, the police quickly charge Rennell and Payton Price with her grisly murder. A twelve-person jury, abetted by an incompetent defense lawyer, is nearly as quick to find the brothers guilty, and to sentence them both to die for their crimes.
Fifteen years later, overworked pro bono laywer Teresa Peralta Paget, her husband Chris, and stepson Carlo, a recent Harvard law graduate, become convinced not only that Rennell didn't receive a fair trial but that he may well be innocent. Racing against the clock and facing enormous legal obstacles, Teresa, Chris, and Carlo desperately try to stay Rennell's execution, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and to an enormously moving and powerful conclusion.
From the Hardcover edition.
When the body of nine-year old Thuy Sen is found in the San Francisco Bay, the police quickly charge Rennell and Payton Price with her grisly murder. A twelve-person jury, abetted by an incompetent defense lawyer, is nearly as quick to find the brothers guilty, and to sentence them both to die for their crimes.
Fifteen years later, overworked pro bono laywer Teresa Peralta Paget, her husband Chris, and stepson Carlo, a recent Harvard law graduate, become convinced not only that Rennell didn't receive a fair trial but that he may well be innocent. Racing against the clock and facing enormous legal obstacles, Teresa, Chris, and Carlo desperately try to stay Rennell's execution, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and to an enormously moving and powerful conclusion.
From the Hardcover edition.
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    CONVICTION
    Chapter One

    In fifty-nine days, if the State of California had its way, the man inside the Plexiglas booth would die by lethal injection.

    Teresa Peralta Paget paused to study him, the guard quiet at her side. Her new client stood with his back to them. He was bulky, the blue prison shirt covering his broad back like an oversize bolt of cloth. A picture of enthrallment, he gazed through the high window of the exterior wall at the San Francisco Bay, its water glistening in the afternoon sun. She was reluctant to distract him; the man's sole glimpses of the world outside, Terri knew, occurred when his lawyers came to see him.

    The others were out of it now; the last set of lawyers had withdrawn after their latest defeat. The final desperate efforts to keep Rennell Price alive--what she thought of as the ritual death spasms ordained by the legal system--had fallen to Teresa Paget. This was their first meeting: but for his solitude, she could not have picked her client out from the other men huddled with their lawyers in the two rows of Plexiglas cubicles. It resembled, Terri thought, an exhibit of the damned--sooner or later, in months, or more likely years, the impersonal, inexorable grinding of the machinery of death would consume each one in turn.

    But perhaps not, Terri promised herself, this one. At least not until she had burnt herself down to the nerve ends, sleep-deprived from the effort to save him.

    To her new client, she supposed, Terri might appear a mere morsel for the machine, insufficient even to slow its gears. She was small--barely five feet four--and slight, with olive skin and a sculpted face, which her husband stubbornly insisted was beautiful: high cheekbones; a delicate chin; a ridged nose too pronounced for her liking; straight black hair, which, in Terri's mind, she shared with several million other Latinas far more striking than she. There was little about her to suggest the steeliness an inmate might hope for in his lawyer except, perhaps, the green-flecked brown eyes, which even when she smiled never quite lost their keenness, or their watchfulness.

    This wariness was Terri's birthright, the reflex of a child schooled by the volatile chemistry which transformed her father's drinking to bru- tality, and reinforced by the miserable first marriage which Terri, who had no better model, had chosen as the solution to her pregnancy with Elena. Her personal life was different now. As if to compensate for this good fortune, she had turned her career down a path more arduous than most lawyers could endure: at thirty-nine, she had spent the last seven years representing death row inmates, a specialty which virtually guaranteed the opposition and, quite frequently, the outright hostility of judges, prosecutors, witnesses, cops, governors, most relatives of the victim, and by design, the legal system itself--not to mention, often, her own clients. Now that stress and anxiety no longer waited for her at home, Terri sometimes thought, she had sought them out.

    What would be most stressful about this client was not the crime of which he stood convicted, though it was far more odious than most-- especially, given certain facts, to Terri herself. Nor was it whatever version of humanity this man turned out to be: her death row clients had run the gamut from peaceable through schizophrenic to barking mad. But this client represented the rarest and most draining kind of all: for fifteen years, through a trial court conviction in 1987, then a chain of defeats in the California Supreme Court, the Federal District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, Rennell Price had claimed his...
About the Author-
  • Richard North Patterson's thirteen novels include eight consecutive international bestsellers, all greeted by critical acclaim–for example, comparing his Protect and Defend to such novels as Allen Drury's Advise and Consent and Gore Vidal's Lincoln. Formerly a trial lawyer, Patterson served as the SEC's liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor and is now on the boards of several Washington-based advocacy groups dealing with gun violence, political reform, and reproductive rights. He lives on Martha's Vineyard.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Payton and Rennell Price are sentenced to death for the brutal murder of 9-year-old Thuy Sen, who choked to death on semen. Now, 15 years later, pro bono lawyer Theresa Peralta Page has 59 days to find factual, legal, or moral error and determine if a reliable sentence was rendered, possibly saving her client from execution. Patricia Kalember narrates with such subtle nuance about the doubts that exist in the case that each time we hear Rennell Price say, "I didn't do that little girl," it becomes eerily evident that being innocent may not be enough to save his life. Orwellian legal complexities of the death penalty, so brilliantly presented, serve to raise compelling and challenging questions. K.A.T. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
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Conviction
Conviction
Christopher Paget Series, Book 4
Richard North Patterson
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