City Paper is not for tourists
In 1977, Patsy Kelly Jarrett was sentenced to life in prison for driving the getaway car after a murder in Utica, N.Y. She was convicted thanks to a single, faulty eyewitness. Two years later, she met Abbe Smith, then a second-year law student, who tried to free her for a crime she almost certainly did not commit. Smith, now a professor at Georgetown University’s law school, has penned a memoir, Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Story, framed around her experiences trying to free Jarrett from prison. But Smith’s book is hardly a legal procedural. For one thing, the timeline is screwy: Smith parted ways with Jarrett after her appeal failed; only a decade later did Smith again take up Jarrett’s case. Rather, Smith’s book is the story of being a criminal defense lawyer, using the Jarrett case as a lens to view a life spent defending a lot of folks who are guilty and a few, like Jarrett, who tragically aren’t. SMITH DISCUSSES AND SIGNS COPIES OF HER WORK AT 7 P.M. AT POLITICS & PROSE, 5015 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919.