||Delecorte Press, © 1991
666 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10103
$19.95 (c) $5.99 (p)
This is a 365-page account of false arrest, police incompetence, police
rule-breaking, lawyer and judge weaknesses, and general system failures. The
author describes the true case of Steve Titus, who appealed to a journalist for
help after he was convicted of rape and sentenced to prison. The
journalist, Paul Henderson, began an investigation that won him a Pulitzer
prize and established Titus's innocence. Titus then filed a lawsuit against the Port of
Seattle Police Department for 20 million dollars. The suit was settled out
of court when Titus died of a heart attack three weeks before the trial. The
innocent man's surviving son is to receive 2.6 million dollars over the next 20
years. The first check was accompanied by an apology from the police department.
Police tampering with evidence and lying? (see Hunt & Manning, 1991). Judges and
attorneys suckered into the court-as-game? A rape task force that takes on
feminist terrorist lines? The whole law enforcement system made a mockery of our
judicial system and concept of fairness in this case. Perhaps the book's only
omission is to treat the innocent man as the only victim, when (in a confession
in prison), the real rapist admitted to 51 rapes.
This book is easy to read and hard to put down but should be read over several
days to help control the reader's rage. The story will send chills down the
spine in all Americans who believe the police and courts will look out for their
interests and rights. A civil lawsuit as a correction for system failure (see
Underwager, Clauss, & Wakefield, 1990) is almost always too late but
fortunately, this case was corrected in time for Steve
Titus to avoid incarceration. However, his life was ruined by the wrongful
conviction. He lost his job, savings account and reputation. Unfortunately, his
death on the eve of the trial meant that he also lost the opportunity to
confront those responsible.
Six years after the case was overturned, the police officer who tampered with
the evidence died of a heart attack and was buried about 50 feet from Steve Titus. He never apologized to the man he helped
All we have left is the message on the gravestone:
He fought for his day in court,
He was used, deceived, betrayed,
and denied justice
even in death.
should be read by everyone who is concerned with justice. "Eternal vigilance is the price of
Hunt, J., & Manning, P. K. (1991). The social context of
Symbolic Interaction, 14(1), 51-70.
Underwager, R., Clauss, E., & Wakefield, H. (1990). A
Action When Falsely Accused. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, 2(1),
Reviewed by LeRoy Schultz, Professor of
Social Work, West Virginia University.