Third Degree

The Triple Murder That Shook Washington and Changed American Criminal Justice

Scott D Seligman

The principal suspect of a mysterious triple murder is pressured into a confession and convicted of first-degree murder, which sets off a chain of events that changes the course of American legal history.
Publication date:
May 2018
Publisher :
Potomac Books, Inc.
Illustration :
25 photographs, 7 illustrations
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781612349947

Dimensions : 230 X 150 mm
Available in 3-4 weeks


• The third degree interrogation tactics discussed at length by Seligman remain a controversial issue and hot button topic, especially surrounding recent incidents involving police brutality and Guantanamo Bay prisoner treatment
• A fast-paced thriller that not only functions as an entertaining—and chilling—whodunit, but also an informative and useful description and analysis of a landmark legal case that changed the course of American legal history
• Contains an informed and thoughtful discussion on the foundation and illustrated importance of the Miranda warning
• Leaves the reader wondering about the ethical conundrum faced by judges when law enforcement oversteps and a killer goes free

If you've ever seen an episode of Law and Order, you can probably recite your "Miranda rights” by heart. But you likely don't know that these rights had their roots in the compelling case of a young Chinese man accused of murdering three of his compatriots in Washington DC in 1919. A frantic search for clues and dogged interrogations by gumshoes erupted in sensational news and editorial coverage intensifying international pressure on the police to crack the case. Part murder mystery, part courtroom drama, and part landmark legal case, The Third Degree is the true story of the young man's abuse by the Washington police and an arduous, seven-year journey through the legal system that drew in Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John W. Davis, and J. Edgar Hoover. The trial culminated in a sweeping Supreme Court ruling penned by Justice Louis Brandeis that set the stage for Miranda. Author Scott D. Seligman argues that the importance of the case hinges not on the defendant's guilt or innocence, but on proof that a system that presumes innocence until proven guilty must provide protections against false convictions. Today, when the treatment of suspects between arrest and trial remains controversial, when bias against immigrants and minorities in law enforcement continues to deny them their rights, and when protecting individuals against compulsory self-incrimination is still an uphill battle, this century-old legal spellbinder is a cautionary tale that reminds us how we got where we are today and makes us wonder how far we have really come.