A couple of weeks ago, Mark Kleinschmidt told me he was embarassed by a new book, "The Last Lawyer," about his former boss at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, Ken Rose. Telling the story of CDPL's efforts to get a mentally ill client of death row, the book heaps praise on Kleinschmidt. I'm only half-way through, but I understand the mayor-elect's sheepishness.
"Mark was effortlessly handsome," wrote John Temple, a journalism professor at West Virginia University. "Polynesians thought he was Polynesian. Greeks thought he was Greek. Israelis thought he was Israeli. In fact, Mark was adopted and had no idea where his olive complexion and wavy black hair had come from."
But the book is not about appearances. In the first 15 pages after introducing him, Temple brands Kleinschmidt as an expert on mental retardation and its relevance in death-penalty cases, something I didn't know about the Town-Council member. After the General Assembly passed a law protecting mentally-retarded murderers from execution in 2001, Kleinschmidt, only a year out of law school, stayed busy drafting motions and advising lawyers around the state on how to rescue 51 men and one woman from death row.
"Mark had some personal experience with mentally retarded people -- an uncle who was slow and the occasional student in his high-school class who couldn't keep up," Temple wrote. "He immersed himself in the science of IQ testing."
The book is a good read, and I may post some more tidbits here as I read on.