Angel of Death Row by Andrea Lyon is going to become available in January of 2010. It is a collection of stories that complete her memoirs on a life of service as a death penalty trial attorney. While her book is not meant to be an argumentative piece for or against the death penalty, it is clear that Ms. Lyon, through her commitment to her clients and in creating The Center for Justice in Capital Cases (at DePaul University in Chicago), is an agent of change in this country for death penalty reform. There is a video interview with Andrea Lyon on Youtube.
Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded.
Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence, they deserved a change at redemption.
Now, for the first time, Lyon shares her story, from her early work as a Legal Aid attorney to her founding of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases. Full of courtroom drama, tragedy, and redemption, Angel of Death Row is a remarkable inside look at what drives Lyon to defend those who seem indefensible—and to win.
There was Annette who was suspected of murdering her own daughter. There was Patrick, the convicted murderer who thirsted for knowledge and shared his love of books with Lyon when she visited him in jail. There was Lonnie, whose mental illness made him nearly impossible to save until the daughter who remembered his better self spoke on his behalf. There was Deirdre, who shared Lyon’s cautious optimism that her wrongful conviction would finally be overturned, allowing her to see her grandchildren born while she was in prison. And there was Madison Hobley, the man whose name made international headlines when he was wrongfully charged with the murder of his family and sentenced to death.
These clients trusted Lyon with their stories—and their lives. Driven by an overwhelming sense of justice, fairness, and morality, she fought for them in the courtroom and in the raucous streets, staying by their sides as they struggled through real tragedy and triumphed in startling ways. Angel of Death Row is the compelling memoir of Lyon’s unusual journey and groundbreaking career.
Andrea Lyon’s account of her groundbreaking career amounts to a primer on the criminal justice system and the death penalty in particular. What it reveals is often horrifying, but Andrea’s writing is so infused with empathy and humor that the reader comes away both wiser to the ways of injustice and inspired by the difference one person can make. The stories of her life and her cases expose flawed humanity on all sides, as well as breathtaking largeness of heart. And make no mistake, Andrea’s compassion for the victims of crime is no less than her compassion for the defendants. Angel of Death Row is timely, important, and a page-turner to the end. —Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking