Cover image for Capital punishment: the inevitability of caprice and mistake.
Capital punishment: the inevitability of caprice and mistake.
Black, Charles L., Jr. (Charles Lund), 1915-2001.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton [1974]
Physical Description:
96 pages ; 22 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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HV8698 .B47 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Author Notes

Charles Lund Black Jr., September 22, 1915 - May 5, 2001 Charles Lund Black Jr. was born on September 22, 1915 in Austin, Texas. He was one of the three children of Charles L. Black Sr. a lawyer and his wife Alzada Bowman Black. Black graduated from Austin High School in 1931 at the age of sixteen and went on to the University of Texas to study Greek Classics. He received his Bachelor's Degree in 1935 and traveled to Europe, after which he entered Yale, enrolling in Old and Middle English Literature. He entered Yale Law School in 1940, graduated in 1943 and joining the Army Air Corps as a teacher.

After the war, Black practiced law for a year at a New York firm, yet yearned to go back to teaching. In 1947, he joined the faculty of Columbia law and became a full professor a few years later. In 1956, Black moved on to the Yale law faculty, becoming the Henry R. Luce professor of jurisprudence. In 1975, he earned the title of Sterling professor of law, Yale's highest teaching post and held it till 1986 when he retired and became the Sterling professor emeritus of law. Black's wife then became the law school dean at Columbia University and Black continued on as an adjunct professor until 1999. During his career, Black wrote for legal and academic journals, as well as the New York Times and other publications. He also had his poetry published in various journals and magazines and lectured all over on topics such as civil rights, the death penalty and other national issues.

Black wrote more than twenty books and hundreds of articles on constitutional law, admiralty law, capital punishment and the role of the judiciary and other legal subjects. Perhaps his most well known work was entitled "Impeachment: A Handbook", published in 1974 and resurfacing again during the Clinton Administration's Whitewater scandal. The handbook was an analysis of law and the history of impeachment, regardless of taking sides in the matter. Black also helped to write the legal brief for Brown vs. the Board of Education, defining segregation in American education. As an opponent of the death penalty, Black wrote "Capital Punishment: the Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake", arguing against it's use. Black also specialized in admiralty law, governing maritime affairs and wrote what many consider to be the definitive work of the subject. It is entitled :The Law of Admiralty". Black's last book, "A New Birth of Freedom", examined the Declaration of Independence and the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments as a basis for unwritten human rights. Black was also the subject of a documentary on Jazz, in reference to Black's love of Louis Armstrong.

Black died of respiratory failure after a long illness at his home in Manhattan on May 5, 2001. He was 85.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 7
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 9
Chapter 2 Mistake and Arbitrariness-an Overviewp. 14
Chapter 3 Other Arguments About Capital Punishmentp. 23
Chapter 4 The Problem of Other Forms of Punishmentp. 29
Chapter 5 The Decisions on Charging and on Plea-Bargainingp. 37
Chapter 6 The Trial and Verdictp. 45
Chapter 7 The Sentence-Choicep. 56
Chapter 8 After Sentencing (appeal, Post- Conviction Remedies, Clemency)p. 69
Chapter 9 Mistake or Uncertainty of Lawp. 75
Chapter 10 The Warping Effects of Race and Povertyp. 84
Chapter 11 A Summary- Law New and Oldp. 92