Scribes: The American Society of Legal Writers has awarded their 2010 Book Award to The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates by John Temple. Scribes was founded in 1953 with the goal of recognizing legal writers and improving legal writing. And since 1961, Scribes has presented an annual award for the best work of legal scholarship published during the previous year.
The Last Lawyer chronicles Ken Rose's decade-long defense of Bo Jones, a North Carolina farmhand convicted of a 1987 murder. The Jones case bares the thorniest issues surrounding capital punishment. Inadequate legal counsel, mental retardation, mental illness, and sketchy witness testimony stymied Jones's original defense. Yet for many years, Rose's advocacy gained no traction, and Bo Jones came within three days of his execution.
The book follows Rose through a decade of setbacks and small triumphs as he gradually unearthed the evidence he hoped would save his client's life. Based on four and a half years of behind-the-scenes reporting, The Last Lawyer offers unprecedented access to the inner workings of a capital defense team.
Rege Behe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review praised Temple's story-telling ability and described the book thusly, "It reads more like a best-selling novel than a dry, blow-by-blow account."
Temple will be accepting the award and signing copies of his book later this summer at Scribes Annual Meeting in San Francisco.