Defending the Devil: My Story As Ted Bundy's Last Lawyer

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9780688108236: Defending the Devil: My Story As Ted Bundy's Last Lawyer

As a brand-new lawyer, Polly Nelson was offered serial-kiiler Ted Bundy's case as a pro bono project for her prestigious Washington, DC law firm just weeks before he was scheduled to be executed. Defending the Devil is a unique and candid look at the Bundy case and at Nelson's three-year personal battle to balance her duties as a lawyer, her compassion for human life, and the inhuman crimes her client had committed.

Through the obstacles and setbacks faced by Nelson there was Ted Bundy himself. While his crimes show the extremely violent side of his personality, there were many other sides --many other extreme sides--that the public never saw. Ranging from shy and defensive to a narcissistic performer, Bundy professed his innocence by day while offering confessions to the police and helping the FBI at night. His own worst enemy, Bundy seemed never to understand the severity of his crimes, the punishment, or the public's reaction to them. Through it all stood Nelson, defending him from both the system and himself.

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About the Author:

Released from her law firm months after Ted Bundy was executed, Polly Nelson is now a member of the District of Columbia Board of Parole in Washington, DC.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A powerful, moving account of a fledgling lawyer's struggle to stay the execution of serial killer Ted Bundy. As a first-year associate, Nelson blindly accepted a ``little pro bono project.'' She had no idea she was committing the next three years of her life to representing a man who had murdered (approximately) 35 young women. She had no idea that her client, a manic-depressive law school dropout, would repeatedly attempt to sabotage her representation, or that her law firm--Washington DC's white-shoe, politically connected Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering- -``would come to think that [she] had saddled them with this unsavory million-dollar case''; ultimately, they would fire her for her zealous, single-minded advocacy. Nor did she realize that her true opponents in the case would be not the prosecutors but the state and federal courts intent on executing her despised client, no matter what evidence of his insanity she presented. But Nelson's most profound lesson was that she could not focus exclusively on the constitutional issues of Bundy's appeal (such as his incompetence in representing himself, as he had insisted on doing at trial). Somehow, she had to come to grips with the ``absolute misogyny'' of her defendant's bestiality. She had to be able to answer the question posed by every reporter who thrust a microphone in her face: ``What about the victims?'' Nelson quotes liberally from the court record as she recreates the labyrinthine complexity of the death-row appeals process, but you don't have to be a lawyer to appreciate her epiphany as a litigator: ``The best approach is to gladly embrace all the facts, no matter what, and show that every last one of them only reinforce the unassailable correctness of your position''--namely, that capital punishment is murder, and Bundy, executed in 1989, didn't deserve to die. Both a stunningly candid personal story and a fascinating dissection of a misunderstood case. Deserves a wide readership. (First printing of 25,000) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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