Book Review: Manifest Injustice by Barry Siegel

July 4, 2013

Manifest Injustice is a true story regarding a convicted murderer and the people who tried to bring him freedom.  It is a compelling and disturbing read and a perfect one to write about on the 4th of July.  The story is captivating in that it illustrates the complexities of our legal system and how certain evidence can change the overall picture.  How this man was able to get convicted still amazes me, as the amount of doubt in the story was incredible.  I was deeply disturbed throughout the book at the number of obstacles and people not interested in at least hearing all the facts of a case (another person’s confession to the same murders).  Though it is truly difficult to evaluate he said, she said situations, especially when those in charge of the investigation were so sloppy in gathering evidence and recording “confessions”.  His ex-wife was able to both testify against him and had access to evidence.

The beauty of this story was the number of people who were fighting for his case.   The people at the Arizona Justice Project fought for his story to be heard, and spend years trying to investigate his case and bring justice.  Perkins Coie also joined the fight (I used to work here – too funny).  Eventually one of his sons reunited with him, and became one of his advocates.  The accused, Mr. Bill Macumber was portrayed as a strong inspiring man, trying to make the most of a bad situation.

Barry Siegel is an incredible writer, bringing to light difficult issues to process.  He brings you into the lives of the people, pulls you into the story emotionally and intellectually.  You can’t finish reading this book, without a greater understanding of the complexities and fallacies of the legal system.

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Memoir review: Crash Into Me by Liz Seccuro

February 18, 2013

I was deeply moved by reading Liz’s book Crash Into Me. It was an extremely difficult book to read, not because of her writing, but because of the treatment she received  during and after being sexually assaulted. She is an extremely courageous woman willing to share her story and look at the truth regardless of how dark it is. This is a highly significant book that I hope is read by students and facility in our schools and universities.

When Liz was a student at the University of Virginia in 1984, she was raped at a fraternity party. She immediately does the right thing by going straight to the hospital and to the college administration. However, most of the blame is placed on Liz and little action is done to report the incident to the police or to investigate what happened. Liz continues to fight for some sort of resolution, and none is granted. She chooses to focus on making the best she could of her college years, yet still effected by the tragedy of the rape and the aftermath.

In 2005, Liz receives an apology later from one of her rapists, William Beebe, apologizing for “harming her”. A correspondence and a search for justice begins to follow. William reaches out to her, twisting his understanding of the 9th step, seeking to make amends. (FYI, a rapist writing a letter to someone he raped, doesn’t make amends by sending a letter to the person he harmed causing more harm). Unfortunately his lack of understanding what he has done to her, his sudden appearance, and his inability to be completely truthful creates additional hardship. Liz, however, with the letter and the right support, is able to finally receive a glimmer of justice for what was done to her.

Often when I read a story, I am unable to remember much of it a short time later. I become engrossed in a story, then somehow can’t retain it. Liz’ memoir is not one of those stories. This is a book that will haunt me in the years to come as I prepare my daughters for college. I am so grateful that she was willing to share her story, to bring awareness on such a difficult topic, and to continue to stay strong in spite of all those who shamed her. The obstacles she faced were numerous, and most unnecessary. I can’t believe how many ignorant, selfish, dishonest people she had to face. Fortunately, she also met some amazing, compassionate, loving, wise people. May her future be filled with blessings as she brings a light to others facing the darkness. Thank you for sharing your story and bringing hope where it isn’t often found.


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