WVU journalism professor wins award for death penalty book

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 19, 2010


MORGANTOWN -- John Temple's latest non-fiction thriller continues to garner national attention and was recently named the recipient of The American Society of Legal Writers Scribes 2010 Book Award.

"The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates" was nominated by University Press of Mississippi, who published the book in November 2009.

The award is presented to only one work per year and the organization has previously honored such books as "A Civil Action" by Jonathan Harr, "The Defense Never Rests" by F. Lee Bailey and "The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power" by Jonathan Mahler.

Temple, an associate professor at West Virginia University's P.I. Reed School of Journalism, said he was very happy that his book was recognized for the Scribes book award.

"I was very surprised and pleased for the book to be recognized," Temple said. "I read 'A Civil Action' for inspiration several times while I was researching and writing 'The Last Lawyer,' so it was very cool to see that it had won the Scribes book award in 1996."

The Last Lawyer is the true story of an idealistic attorney, Ken Rose, and his diverse band of investigators and lawyers. The book chronicles Rose's decade-long defense of Bo Jones, a North Carolina farmhand convicted of a 1987 murder.

Temple spent nearly five years as a behind-the-scenes reporter for the book, following the case and the setbacks and triumphs Rose's team faced as they gradually unearthed evidence to help save their client's life.

Temple said while he was researching and writing the book, he made 17 trips to North Carolina.

Temple will be honored Aug. 7 at the Scribes' annual meeting in San Francisco, which is held in conjunction with the American Bar Association's annual conference.

His remarks will be published in the Scribes' quarterly newsletter, The Scrivener.

Temple is also the author of "Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner's Office," which was published in 2005 and follows the exploits of a diverse team of death investigators at a coroner's office in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Temple currently lives in Morgantown with his wife and two sons.

For more information about "The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates" or Temple's other book, go to www.johntemplebooks.com.

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