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The Champion

May 2012 , Page 59 

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Book Review: Dead Weight

By Victoria L. Nadel

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Securing Reasonable Caseloads: Ethics and Law in Public Defense

By Batt Humphreys
Joggling Board Press (2009)
Reviewed by Victoria L. Nadel

The last man to die by hanging in the courtyard of Charleston, South Carolina’s Magazine Street jail was young, black and probably innocent. Daniel Cornelius “Nealy” Duncan, whose neck should have snapped in an instant, strangled slowly for 39 minutes of agony when the gallows malfunctioned. The heavens followed his harrowing death by unleashing a powerful hurricane known to this day in some quarters as “The Duncan Storm.”

Batt Humphreys was asked to take these true facts and spin them into fiction in his novel, Dead Weight. Max Lubelsky’s June 21, 1910, murder on King Street in Charleston’s Jewish merchant row and the subsequent conviction and hanging of Duncan for the crime arrived on the most elaborate silver platter imaginable: two local historians had researched and written a non-fictional account (Charleston’s Trial:

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