Winner of the 2010 Scribes Book Award for best law-related book, The Last Lawyer is the true, inside story of how an idealistic legal genius and his diverse band of investigators and fellow attorneys fought to overturn a client’s final sentence.
Ken Rose has handled more capital appeals cases than almost any other attorney in the United States. The Last Lawyer chronicles Rose’s decade-long defense of Bo Jones, a North Carolina farmhand convicted of a 1987 murder. Rose called this his most frustrating case in twenty-five years, and it was one that received scant attention from judges or journalists. 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. At the same time, Rose also single-handedly built a nonprofit law firm that became a major force in the death penalty debate raging across the South.
The Last Lawyer offers unprecedented access to the inner workings of a capital defense team. Based on four and a half years of behind-the-scenes reporting by a journalism professor and nonfiction author, The Last Lawyer tells the unforgettable story of a lawyer’s fight for justice.
What People Are Saying
John Temple’s The Last Lawyer is a compulsively readable indictment of a fatally flawed system. It reads like first-class legal fiction, but it’s far more compelling because it is, tragically, legal fact. Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., winner of the Pulitzer Prize
The book delves into a tangled web of death-penalty jurisprudence, where judges and prosecutors look all too human and life-or-death decisions sometimes hang on hapless defense attorneys. Raleigh News & Observer
High drama in Raleigh penitentiaries, North Carolina backroads, cramped law offices, and sweltering courtrooms. Investigators, criminals, judges, witnesses, and attorneys are all finely, vividly drawn in this disturbing account… A stand-up-and cheer account of one man standing up for justice. Publishers Weekly starred review
Temple really gets it. He really, really gets it. If you read only one book in your life about what it’s like to be a criminal defense lawyer, read this one. The Criminal Lawyer Blog review
An often-riveting account of an idealistic legal team fighting against the death penalty. John Temple’s reasoned account of the case of Bo Jones, a North Carolina man sentenced to death for the murder of a store owner, is balanced and nuanced. It reads more like a best-selling novel than a dry, blow-by-blow account. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
I read this book in two evenings–it was very hard to put down. “The Last Lawyer” gives a well-written and compelling look at the work of capital postconviction defense. Whether you agree with the death penalty or not, I highly recommend this to you. – Helen P
It felt so real that I was anxious — I had to find out what happened
Spellbinding. It read like a suspenseful novel — I couldn’t put it down. The characters of Sara and Mark were my favorites; they came to life on the pages. You don’t need to be a lawyer to like this. Much more riveting than Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. Trust me, The Last Lawyer is the best book I’ve read all year. – Cheryl