Post Script: The Hanging Judge – Michael Ponsor

A great court procedural with moral dilemmas .

The Hanging Judge

Michael Ponsor

Open Road Integrated Media

Open Road Media

ISBN: 9781480441903



Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trial

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so he can seek a death sentence.

The Honorable David S. Norcross, with only two years’ experience on the federal bench, now presides over the first death penalty case in the state in fifty years. Not only must he contend with an ambitious female prosecutor and a brilliant veteran defense attorney, but with citizens outraged at the senseless killing of a white, middle-class bystander; the media; anti–death penalty protesters; vengeful gang members; and the million things that can go wrong in a capital trial.

My View:

Great court procedural with moral dilemmas.

I really enjoyed this interesting and personal rendition of court room drama. The characters were well developed, important background info helped make sense of current situation and life in the court room was fully fledged without sounding preachy or educational – yet it was educational; for those who have never set foot in a court room there was plenty of detail to ensure the reader could make sense of the protocols, the laws, the behaviours of the judge, the jury, the lawyers and those on trial.

I  enjoyed the way the author set up the many moral dilemmas in this novel – would you lie to save the life of a person you loved? Would you provide information to protect those around you? Would you live a life based on half truths to protect and nurture the ones you love? Would you condemn someone to death? The moral and social issues presented in this novel certainly get the reader thinking. It is very clear that none of the dilemmas are simple or the verdicts easy to make. Life is complicated, that much is clear.

This was a very engaging and intriguing story – I was not convinced as to the guilt of the accused or to his innocence. I just didn’t know.

5 thoughts on “Post Script: The Hanging Judge – Michael Ponsor

  1. Carol – This one really does sound like a great read. And a good courtroom drama can be quite compelling. Interesting that Ponsor leaves it up to the reader to decide guilt or innocence – intriguing…

    • Margo it was an intriguing story – without giving to much away – the accused felt deserving of punishment due to an unchallenged incident in his past – he also felt resigned to the fate he thought he deserved. But whether he is guilty this time? The jury makes a decision based on the same knowledge as the reader has, and the death penalty is on the table a decision is made…but in the last few pages there is much drama and revelation… It is easy to see what could have happened..

  2. Another one that’s also on my to-read list, so glad to see you think it’s a good one. I’m currently contemplating whether I can force myself to finish The Midas Murders – you’re so right about it being nowhere near as good as the first one. I’m really hating it at the moment.

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