Four Trials

3.66 avg rating
( 176 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780743272049: Four Trials

Raised in a small town by parents employed in the local mills, John Edwards worked in those mills himself -- and then went on to become one of America's most successful and respected attorneys. He built a national reputation representing people whose lives had been shattered by corporate recklessness and grievous medical negligence. In landmark cases, Edwards helped people from all walks of life stand up for themselves against tremendous odds. Four Trials provides an electrifying account of four of his cases as it tells the story of the courageous and unmistakably decent people Edwards was privileged to represent in times of tragedy, great loss, and often great joy. And in a deeply moving account, Four Trials also speaks of the tragedies and joys that Senator Edwards has known in his own life -- and how today life and justice are more precious to him than ever.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Senator John Edwards practiced law for twenty years, representing families and children hurt by the negligence of others. In 1998, he was elected U.S. Senator for North Carolina, where he lives with his family.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: E.G.

"I trust you."

E.G. Sawyer didn't speak these words. Instead, he typed them out on a plastic spelling board that had become his only means of communication since the day his life had changed six years before. It was a December evening in 1984, and my client and I sat on the ninth floor of the Buncombe County courthouse in an otherwise empty courtroom that overlooked the art deco cityscape of downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Only an hour before, I had completed my closing argument in an intense two-week trial where we had sought to prove that E.G. had been permanently disabled as a result of the medical malpractice of an Asheville doctor and the local hospital.

The next morning, the jury would begin deliberations. But for the moment as I sat beside my client, I wondered if I had done everything possible to make those twelve men and women understand the damage E.G. had suffered. Could they see the man he had once been -- the real E.G. lost somewhere in the hunched and colorless figure that now slouched in a wheelchair? Back then this man hadn't needed a chair to get around or a spelling board to speak. This man had once been the freest of movers, the easiest of talkers; the kind of guy whose good looks and easy smile would always shield him -- or so it seemed -- from misfortune.

· · ·

Howard E.G. Sawyer -- those middle initials were an Appalachian quirk and stood for nothing -- had long been accustomed to the power of his striking black-Irish good looks. He had known his charm pretty well, and he loved to talk and knew people loved to talk to him. He was a natural salesman, and a good one. When he drove his Chevrolet pickup around western North Carolina selling chemicals, slapping backs, and handing out gifts, he did more than distribute the usual fifths of Crown Royal or Jack Daniel's. He stocked up on baseball cards, penknives, and the like -- for clients' kids and even for friends of their kid's.

E.G. Sawyer lived for the human exchange, and he loved the freedom his job gave him. No office, no time card -- just a monthly quota he easily met but seldom exceeded. As soon as E.G.'s professional obligations were fulfilled, he hit the golf course. When he expanded his sales territory to the golfer's paradise of Florida, his boss, Charles Tate, could hardly complain. E.G.'s sales charm knew no state boundaries, and besides, E.G. took Tate's son along as his caddy.

The Tates had more or less adopted E.G., who lived in
a neatly kept double-wide trailer just north of the Asheville city limits. He was a frequent dinner guest and a reliable presence during holidays. The Tates affectionately referred to him as "our bachelor."

Of course the ladies liked him too, for why shouldn't they -- even if he was a hard man to hold down, with all that moving and all that charm -- and all that golf -- which may have been his greatest passion of all. His first wife, Betty, continued to be fond of him even after she had left him, although she had long accepted that his real loves would always be the road and the links. And although he faithfully picked up their young children, Chad and Kim, each Saturday morning for swim-
ming or baseball games, he loved his role as the Tates' bachelor at least as much as he enjoyed his role as Saturday dad.

But as E.G. entered his forties, as his sales chums and golfing partners abandoned him each evening for the tediums and glories of married life, bachelorhood lost its luster. In 1976, E.G. married again, a woman who was young, beautiful, and spirited -- too spirited, it turned out, for the life E.G. envisioned. The marriage did not last a year.

His friends had never known him to drink -- at all. While the others passed a whiskey bottle, an Orange Crush always sufficed for E.G., but when loneliness was accompanied by bitterness and humiliation, the once carefree man began a descent. In the privacy of his trailer, he began to drink whole fifths of vodka. For a full year, he kept his new addiction to himself, embarrassed by this latest failing. Then his sales performance began to slip. One day Charles Tate found E.G. in his trailer surrounded by empty bottles. He checked his employee and friend into St. Joseph's Hospital on Saturday, September 9, 1978.

· · ·

I had just told E.G. that the defense attorneys had approached me with a settlement offer that he would need to accept -- or refuse -- before the jury returned for deliberations the next morning. It was an offer of $750,000. E.G.'s fingers immediately stumbled onto the rickety plastic slab that sat just above his lap. That spelling board was supposed to prompt a synthesized voice for each word typed, but it constantly malfunctioned, so to understand what he was trying to say I generally had to watch E.G.'s once powerful fingers fumble against the letters. It was agonizing for him, and wrenching for anyone who watched him.

"Take it," he wrote, and although nothing had changed on his deadened face, I could feel his excitement.

For a moment I didn't respond. "Take it," his fingers wrote again -- as if I hadn't understood.

I could hardly blame him. It was a lot of money -- not just to my client, but to me, for E.G.'s working-class world was the world I knew. E.G.'s father drove a bus in Weaverville, just north of Asheville; my own dad had spent much of his life in the textile mills of North and South Carolina, where I was raised. In Raleigh, my wife Elizabeth still wore the $11 wedding ring I had bought for her seven years before. So when he said "Take it," I understood. I understood completely.

I had already talked with my partners and they were impressed with the offer and at first they seemed happy with it, but we all soon realized that in the long run it wouldn't be nearly enough to give E.G. any kind of life. The figure may have represented the sum of his lost potential wages, but that hardly meant anything for someone who could no longer walk or talk or drive, or cook for himself or dress himself, or even keep himself clean, or buy anything in a store or turn the pages of a newspaper or make any kind of plan for a different tomorrow. The settlement would merely house and clothe him, but E.G. -- who deeply loved the freedom of his life on the road -- could no longer function at all on his own. And the offer didn't come close to approaching the mountain of expenses for the medical and physical challenges that lay ahead as he grew older, feebler, and surely, more and more alone. They were hardships that we, and even E.G. himself, could hardly begin to imagine.

I had seen photographs of a tall, broad-shouldered man with big, muscular arms and a ready grin for the camera, but now he was the kind of embarrassing figure who one might turn away from on the street, eager to forget that kind of misery. He bore almost no resemblance to the winning fellow who once could have talked his way onto a golf course or into a woman's arms. It wasn't just that he was now fifty-one years old. It was that the armor he had worn into the world -- the handsome face, the deft instinct for slapping a friend on the back or bending down and slipping a pocketknife to someone's shy son -- had been stripped away. His black hair was now thinning and streaked with gray. His wide shoulders sagged inside the sports jacket I had wrestled him into that morning. His chin was damp; and his once lively eyes were vacant. And yet, he had this: the ability to make you believe in him and want to fight for him because, without any reservation, he believed in you in a way you did not yet believe in yourself.

He typed it out a third time: "Take it."

I told him it was not what he deserved, and it was not what he needed. "And let me tell you something," I added. "The jury knows it too."

E.G. sat there, his otherwise expressionless eyes welling up under the fluorescent lights. Then in a slow and halting manner, he began to move his hands.

"I trust you."

I trust you. I'll never forget how I felt at that moment, for E.G. Sawyer's message was the single most terrifying thing anyone had ever communicated to me. With those three words, he was putting his entire life in my hands. Trust me? I was thirty-one years old. Good grief, what did I really know?

I was telling this ruined man to turn his back on what must have seemed to him, what was to him, a fortune. And I was claiming to know what was in the jury's head. If I was wrong, E.G. would suffer even more miserably for the rest of his life -- and I'd go home to my house and wife and children in Raleigh. And then on to my next case. I was all he had, and God help him, he trusted me. I felt scared.

But I had grown up knowing the world of E.G. and the strength of people in that world. They worked, and took hits, and they rarely complained. In bad times, sometimes the best they could think to do was turn inward -- as E.G. did when he went back to his room -- and sometimes that was in fact all they could do. My world is different now, and of course people close to me still suffer in real ways, but now many of them are powerful, and they have the privilege of knowing what to do and how to do it when son, daughter, mother, father, friend finds the whole world coming down. They pick up the phone and make a call, and it is often the right call. And then other calls are made that night, while they sleep or at least try to sleep. And sometimes -- perhaps often -- it does much good. Yes, this is my world now -- I know that -- and I can't deny that in many ways I am happy that it is. But all my life I have known people like E.G. or people like neighbors of E.G. I haven't forgetten what they are up against -- in part because when I was young, I really saw what they were up against. And it is impossible to forget. When E.G. said he trusted me, I was genuinely afraid, but I knew that what we were trying to do was right. I genuinely believed that what we were trying to do could make a suffering man's life into some kind of better life.

My father, Wallace Edwards, worked for Milliken, the textile company, and since he was frequently reassigned to different mill towns throughout the South, we moved often when I was growing up. We'd pack up what we could from a mill house, and what we could not afford to move we'd leave to the church or to the next tenant. We'd drive off in our packed Ford sedan, and though she thought we didn't notice, my mother Bobbie would always turn to catch a last look at the house. We left half a lifetime's memories in sandy-lotted homes across the South.

I was surprised to find that mama had held on to an essay I'd written when I was eleven: "Why I Want To Be A Lawyer." Rereading it today, I'm struck first by the revelation that at one time in my life, my handwriting was actually somewhat legi-ble. Once I get past the essay's half-decent script -- like many in my office and home, I often can't come close to reading my penmanship today -- I soon arrive at what I am sure was my key sentence: "Probably the most important reason I want to be a defense attorney is that I would like to protect innocent people from blind justice the best I can." Of course at that tender age I had no command of legal terminology. To an eleven-year-old, the concept of justice being "blind" sounded ominous, not one bit virtuous. Be that as it may, from early boyhood, what drew me to the law was the chance to "protect innocent people," to "give advice" -- and even, I wrote rather grandiosely, to "save lives."

There were no lawyers in my extended family. There were millworkers, grocery clerks, ministers, Marines, boxers -- but not lawyers. And though I barely knew Doc Smith, who was the only attorney in town, television brought all kinds of dramatic justice, and injustice too, into my small world.

As a boy I was moved, and I was shaken, by The Fugitive, that series where the wrongfully accused Dr. Richard Kimble escapes prison and roams the land in search of his wife's true killer. The show's depiction of "an innocent victim of blind justice" made a powerful impression on me, as it did on my whole family, and I remember my building fury when -- week after week -- no one ever bothered to take Dr. Kimble's side and make things right for him, or even try. Instead there was that constant grim detective whose only job, bankrolled by some remarkably lush federal budget, I later realized, was to find this one, single man.

And I was at least as fanatical about Perry Mason, but there I found real comfort in the show's last four and a half minutes when -- week after week -- that truly fine lawyer yanked yet another explosive confession from yet another cold, evil, and wily villain.

An optimist by nature, I always waited, in needless suspense, of course, for that final moment when wrongs would be righted, and righted in a flash. Now I don't even remember what happened in the last episode of The Fugitive, and although I suspect things turned out well for Dr. Richard Kimble, in my mind's eye he is still roaming the land and still searching for justice.

Of course it would be a few years before I made any connection between the people I grew up with and the glamorous victims I saw on Perry Mason -- people whose hardship and suffering never lasted, of course, more than the sixty minutes allotted to each episode, minus the commercials. As an eleven-year-old I had no sense of how a man injured in a factory, or even just a regular salesman like E.G., might have the scales tipped against him as much as Dr. Kimble or the parade of clients lucky enough to have the services of Raymond Burr. In such cases those scales might remain tipped for life -- especially if there was no one from their ranks who would stand up for them and provide them with a voice.

My dreams of righting wrongs yielded to dreams of buying a car. Then I found myself, as a high school student, working beside grown men building mobile homes. I thought I was earning the down payment on a red Duster, but I was in fact doing something else I did not realize until years later. I was imprinting the lives of those men on my sense of who I was and where I came from. I did the same at the mill when I swept the floors around the looms or when I painted markings on rural highways while I listened to a fellow named Brady tell me the woes of his life. By the time I left my parents' home to go to college, I had taken with me more than funny stories about the different colors Brady had dyed his hair ("Orange? You dyed your hair orange, Brady?" or "Dyed your hair black now, Brady?" "Naw, it's shoe polish"); I had also taken a sense of the dignity of hard work and the struggle of good men and women.

In 1977, ten years after the last episode of The Fugitive, I passed the state bar exam and on that same weekend married my law school sweetheart, Elizabeth Anania. We loaded up our small car and drove to Virginia Beach (where Elizabeth was to serve a one-year clerkship with Judge J. Calvitt Clarke, Jr.). And then I returned to Raleigh to begin my own one-year clerkship with U.S. District Judge Franklin T. Dupree, Jr. I regarded it as a small miracle that I'd gotten that far. It had taken hard work and, on the part of my parents, plenty of sacrifice. But I also had to believe it had taken some special grace to get me from the backyards of Robbins to a paneled federal courtroom in Raleigh.

A native of tiny Angier, North Carolina, Judge Dupree had already built a reputation as an excellent defense lawyer when President Nixon appointed him to the federal bench in 1970. He was the epitome of the old-school Southern establishment lawyer. He called his elegant and white-gloved wife "Miss Rosie" and pretended not to dote...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Edwards, John, Senator, and Auchard, John
Published by Simon & Schuster (2004)
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Trade paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
MVE Inc
(Hickory, NC, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Trade paperback. Book Condition: New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 256 p. Audience: General/trade. Bookseller Inventory # Alibris_0021703

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 4.89
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

EDWARDS
Published by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon and Schuster. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0743272048

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.89
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Edwards, John
Published by Simon & Schuster (2004)
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Redux Books
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New and UNREAD paperback from bookstore stock. May contain a price sticker.; 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed! Ships same or next business day!. Bookseller Inventory # 121705110034

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.58
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Edwards, John
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2004. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9780743272049

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.25
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Senator John Edwards
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2004)
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Raised in a small town by parents employed in the local mills, John Edwards worked in those mills himself -- and then went on to become one of America s most successful and respected attorneys. He built a national reputation representing people whose lives had been shattered by corporate recklessness and grievous medical negligence. In landmark cases, Edwards helped people from all walks of life stand up for themselves against tremendous odds. Four Trials provides an electrifying account of four of his cases as it tells the story of the courageous and unmistakably decent people Edwards was privileged to represent in times of tragedy, great loss, and often great joy. And in a deeply moving account, Four Trials also speaks of the tragedies and joys that Senator Edwards has known in his own life -- and how today life and justice are more precious to him than ever. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780743272049

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.47
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Senator John Edwards
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2004)
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Raised in a small town by parents employed in the local mills, John Edwards worked in those mills himself -- and then went on to become one of America s most successful and respected attorneys. He built a national reputation representing people whose lives had been shattered by corporate recklessness and grievous medical negligence. In landmark cases, Edwards helped people from all walks of life stand up for themselves against tremendous odds. Four Trials provides an electrifying account of four of his cases as it tells the story of the courageous and unmistakably decent people Edwards was privileged to represent in times of tragedy, great loss, and often great joy. And in a deeply moving account, Four Trials also speaks of the tragedies and joys that Senator Edwards has known in his own life -- and how today life and justice are more precious to him than ever. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780743272049

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.80
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Edwards, John
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0743272048. Bookseller Inventory # Z0743272048ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Edwards, John
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0743272048. Bookseller Inventory # Z0743272048ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Edwards, John
Published by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Vital Products COM LLC
(Southampton, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0743272048. Bookseller Inventory # Z0743272048ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Edwards, John
Published by Simon & Schuster (2004)
ISBN 10: 0743272048 ISBN 13: 9780743272049
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # 0743272048

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 15.79
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book