(c) Alma Kenyatta Hart
To my mother, Phyllis Hart, who taught me everything meaningful about love and justice.
This site will publish the whole of this manuscript serially as final edits are completed on sections. Its title is from a statement of Anthony Ray Hinton upon his release from prison in 2015 following thirty years on Alabama’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
The stories are meant to inform the public about the way one court performed its role and responsibilities within the nation’s broader administration of criminal justice.
The manuscript is divided into three books:
Book One: Human Heavy, illustrates several short cases, each addressing a different individual’s experience in a criminal court or with the functioning of a trial court generally.
Book Two: The Gray Area, describes a particular case at length. Its purpose is to reveal the way mentally ill individuals experience the constraints of criminal prosecution.
Book Three: Death is Different, is about the prosecution of two codefendants facing the death penalty. Their stories show the way capital punishment is applied in a state trial court, from a prosecutor’s decision to seek death to a jury’s verdict on its imposition.
The author was Bailiff to The Honorable Jeffrey M. Ramsdell, Judge of King County Superior Court in Seattle, Washington, from 2007 to 2017.
Out of respect for the defendants and their families, pseudonyms have been substituted for actual names throughout.