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The Smoking Gun

The Smoking Gun

Day by Day Through a Shocking Murder Trial with Gerry Spence

From America's foremost criminal defense lawyer and author of the bestselling How to Argue and Win Every Time comes this riveting, true account of a trial that adeptly exposes the unrelenting power of the state, which so often crushes those -- guilty or innocent -- who come before the bar of justice. It could happen to you.
When Sandy Jones and her teenage son were accused of murdering a real estate developer on their hardscrabble Oregon farm, the prosecution had an eyewitness to the shooting and a photograph of Sandy holding a smoking rifle. County officials kept Sandy in jail while they awaited the trial, despite ballistic evidence that strongly suggested she hadn't fired the fatal shot. The case erupted into an epic struggle between Sandy -- who was poor, different, and a woman -- and the "good old boys" of Lincoln County, Oregon, who held all the power.
Though the Joneses' guilt seemed eminently clear to the county and the prosecution, Gerry Spence, renowned for his work on the cases of Karen Silkwood and Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, took the case pro bono and the courtroom battle exploded into three years of intensely moving jury trials, recounted here from the record of the case. The Smoking Gun follows Gerry Spence through his passionate arguments with two different judges and two different prosecutorial teams, his exacting jury selection, his expert questioning of the witnesses, and his incredible rapport with the jury as he fights for the rights of Sandy and her son.
With a superb sense of drama and an intimate knowledge of the court system, Spence highlights the pitfalls that every defendant faces, making The Smoking Gun extremely relevant today, when our rights are being eroded and when the average American, even if innocent, is hard-pressed to obtain a fair trial.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743260992 | 
  • September 2003
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Lincoln County prosecutor, a friendly man, shoved the photograph under the noses of anybody who wanted to look. The woman in the photograph, tall and blond, was locked on her target, her mouth pulled askew against the stock of her rifle. Smoke puffed out from the end of the barrel as she fired. Sandy Jones was the woman's name. She'd been charged with murder, and the reporters were scrambling for the story.

Something about a murder case fascinates as well as frightens me. If you lose, the state hauls your client off and locks him up in some dank hole for the rest of his life, or an anonymous state-sanctioned murderer... see more

About the Author

Gerry Spence

Gerry Spence is the author of twelve nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestsellers How to Argue and Win Every Time and Give Me Liberty!, and the legal thriller Half Moon and Empty Stars. He has brought his legal insight and expertise to many television and radio shows, including Oprah, 60 Minutes, and Larry King Live. He has never lost a criminal jury trial, and has not lost any trial, criminal or civil, since 1969. Spence is the founder of the nonprofit trial lawyers college and a well-known national television commentator on the justice system. He lives with his wife in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Visit his website at www.gerryspence.com.

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