Cover image for Mean justice : a town's terror, a prosecutor's power, a betrayal of innocence
Mean justice : a town's terror, a prosecutor's power, a betrayal of innocence
Humes, Edward.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [1999]

Physical Description:
491 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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KFC1199.K472 C724 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The incredible true story of a California town where the innocent are presumed guilty and dozens of ordinary citizens have been convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It sounds like something out of a movie of the week: Pat Dunn's wife, Sandy, vanishes during an early-morning walk. Police soon zero in on Pat himself, and eventually he is tried for the murder of his wife--based only on suspicious, unsubstantiated "eyewitness" testimony. A hardworking private eye finds herself battling not just time, but an entire corrupt legal system, to keep Dunn out of jail. But this is no TV-movie, just as it is not a typical man-tried-for-a-crime-he-probably-didn't-commit story. Bakersfield, in Kern County, California, where Pat Dunn was convicted of killing his wife (the book ends as he begins his sixth year in prison), has a history of convicting innocent people, of police and political corruption, of miscarriages of justice so astonishing that readers might be inclined not to believe it, if Humes, a Pulitzer Prize^-winning journalist, didn't document everything so carefully. This isn't merely the story of a man railroaded into jail; it's the story of a legal system that willfully subverts, mangles, and ignores the rights of citizens. It's a truly terrifying story, as scary as any work of fiction--more so, because everything here actually happened. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Humes (No Matter How Loud I Shout, etc.), a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, builds his condemnation of police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct and political pandering around an account of the successful prosecution of an apparently innocent man, Patrick Dunn, for murdering his wife in Kern County, Calif. It's a compelling narrative of a horrifying story. In describing the events surrounding the Dunn prosecution, Humes delves into the sordid history of Kern County, exposing a ruthless D.A.'s office, which conducted the equivalent of a modern-day witch hunt. Kern County, the site of many spurious child-molestation and Satanic ritual-abuse cases, emerges as a crossroads where the worst abuses of psychotherapy meet the worst excesses of rabid law-and-order conservatism. Humes recounts how literally dozens of people in Kern County have had their convictions overturned on appeal based on shocking prosecutorial abuses. The evidence assembled strongly suggests that prosecutors frequently knew of the defendants' innocence. As a result, Humes's exhaustive account of the unscrupulous Dunn prosecution makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that Dunn was innocent. Humes successfully weaves this story into an overall indictment of the criminal justice system by demonstrating the ease with which police, prosecutors and judges can manipulate the process to convict even the innocent. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A book about an innocent person convicted because of manufactured evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, and withheld information is usually fiction. Unfortunately, this is nonfiction. The setting is Kern County, CA, where Patrick Dunn was accused of murdering his wife. The county sheriff and the district attorney built a flimsy case against Dunn, ultimately concocting false information to convict him. Humes, a Pulitzer Prize winner, exposes the Kern County judicial system, where several innocent people have been convicted because of prosecutorial misconduct. The tragedy is that the D.A.'s office is rarely punished‘in recent years, convictions have become harder to appeal because of strict guidelines. Humes's taut exposé hammers home the difficulty of proving one's innocence after being wrongly convicted. After reading this book, people should have second thoughts about a visit to Kern County. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/98.]‘Michael Sawyer, Northwestern Regional Lib., Elkin, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.