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From the archive: 3 April 1964

In 1964, SJ reported on the trial of Jack Ruby and considered the UK and US traditions of counsel

12 April 2016

PROLONGED AGONY

So the trial of Jack Ruby in Dallas is over at last and now, if the possibilities of appeal provided by American criminal practice are fully exploited, the real fight for his life will begin. There would be nothing very extraordinary if he were kept waiting in the death cell for two years or more while the lawyers carried his case from appeal court to appeal court. Chessman's agony of hope, deferred and eventually defeated, was protracted far longer. There is in a way something splendid in the solicitude which refuses to send even a condemned man to his death until every possible reason for a reprieve, no matter how technical, has been reviewed again and again, yet it is a merciless sort of mercy which allows a desperate man thus to clutch at straw after straw. It is a killing by inches, death by a thousand cuts, a prolonged agony, and, by seeming to turn the judicial proc...

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