There are some crimes that are so cruel and twisted just reading
about them tears at our souls. The Boston Marathon bombing is a
recent example. How could anyone? These emotions and modern media's
in our face constant coverage make for moral and ethical dilemmas.
Our country offers equal treatment under the law. But what if taking
on as a client such a detested defendent could be the kiss of death
for a lawyer's career? Can a jury objectively contemplate a case that
has already been judged in the court of opinion? And there's the
controversy concerning not guilty by reason of insanity. We all
pretty much agree that someone capable of such an act is a very sick
individual. But some people see this defense as a way lawyers get
their clients off.
Veteran trial lawyer Elliot Epstein brings these issues to light
in the context of a quite notorious Maine case: the 1984 murder of 4-
year-old Angela Palmer. She was quite literally cooked to death in an
oven, still conscious as her skin sizzled. Her mother's boyfriend,
John Lane, convinced that she had morphed into Lucifer, had committed
the crime with her mother, Cynthia Palmer, and sister in the
apartment. Both adults were jailed and tried. Was lane in a mental
state in which he was unable to see the wrongness of what he was doing
or conform his behavior to the law? Was Palmer a willing participant
or another helpless victim?
Succinct and vivid chapters juxtapose details of the horrific
discovery, the jail, and the trial with Lane and Palmer's life
stories. The whole is very disturbing, not for the faint of heart.
However, for those who want to gain insight into the challenges facing
law in such notorious cases the book is a must read.
On a personal note, the Veazie school budget is quite the controversy
this year. Town council is calling for a $200,000 cut. Some people
want the school shut down. This past week this town of about 2,000
has had three stories on the subject in the Bangor Daily News. I have
no idea what will happen. I am experiencing trepidation. This is not
an easy time to be on school board.
A great big shout out goes out to the lawyers who have the courage to
not give in to threats and villifying when they represent clients who
are despised by the public.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod