Deliberate Intent: A Lawyer Tells the True Story of Murder by the Book

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Crown, 1999 - Law - 276 pages
Deliberate Intent is the riveting account of the landmark Hit Man case, by noted First Amendment attorney Rod Smolla, who risked reputation and career when he took on a cause that seemed to oppose his strongest beliefs.
Early in 1992, Lawrence Horn hired a contract killer to execute his ex-wife and his severely brain-damaged son. On March 3, 1992, the man he hired, James Perry, traveled to Silver Spring, Maryland, and murdered Horn's ex-wife and child and the boy's nurse. Perry used a book called Hit Man as an instruction manual for the murders. The subsequent criminal trial became known as the Hit Man case, and after Horn and Perry were convicted of murder, the victims' families surprised the nation by filing an unprecedented wrongful death suit against Paladin Press, publisher of Hit Man. In a controversial turn of events, Paladin was being blamed for the murders.
Distinguished attorney Rod Smolla, First Amendment expert and vigorous advocate of free speech, was approached to represent the victims' families in the civil suit against Paladin. Smolla initially declined, but after reading Hit Man and likening it to "a loaded pistol or a vial of poison," he decided to take on the case, even though it seemed to go against his abiding belief in the First Amendment. Smolla argued that if Paladin Press knew and intended that its murder manual Hit Man would be used in the actual planning and execution of contract killings, Paladin was not entitled to immunity under the First Amendment. In an appeal that stunned the legal world, Smolla's argument prevailed and was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Deliberate Intent is the dramatic story of the events behind this landmark case--astory that includes murder, trials, and appeals and, most important, raises fascinating and difficult questions about our most cherished freedom.

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Deliberate intent: a lawyer tells the true story of murder by the book

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Smolla, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Richmond, has written an intimate and detailed account of the successful civil suit against Paladin Press, publisher of the murder manual Hit ... Read full review

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I read many books that are interesting, but most usually, I can put this books down when I need to, this book on the other hand was very hard to put down even when I needed it. It hooked me in. He describes the law issues involved in layperson terms without being condescending. He does tell a good tale of his dilemma of being a first amendment lawyer but not being overly dogmatic about the use of the first amendment. I was disappointed that he got Paladin to stop selling the Hit Man book especially before I got to read it. I am one of those who Smolla would call a first amendment absolutist. I believe there should be almost no exceptions to the first amendment. I read and enjoy books like Hit Man without using the material for illegal or dangerous purposes.  


FIVE But You Dont Stand for Anything
SIXThe TortMobile
EIGHT1Trevor Lives Through

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About the author (1999)

Rod Smolla is professor of law at the University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law. The author of Suing the Press and Jerry Falwell v. Larry Flynt, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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