Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conversation with His Honor Michael Ponsor Enjoyed by All

Last Friday members of the Western Massachusetts Library Advocates gathered at the new Holyoke Public Library to talk with His Honor Federal Judge Michael Ponsor author of The Hanging Judge.

The Hanging Judge tells the story of a drive-by shooting in Holyoke that claims the life of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse from a neighborhood clinic (collateral damage).  A black man is arrested.  Ambition and public outrage over the senseless killing of a white, middle class “hockey mom,” causes the US attorney to shift the case into federal court so that he can pursue the death penalty.  Political maneuvering, courtroom logistics, ramifications for the families of the victims and the accused, as well as the suspense of the trial make this an important read.  Many of the same elements are involved in the upcoming Boston Bombing trials. 

Fictional federal Judge David S. Norcross presides over the first death penalty case in Massachusetts in 50 years and all the contending details that can go wrong with a capital trial.

In 2000, US District Judge Michael Ponsor presided over a death penalty trial in Springfield – the first in Massachusetts in over fifty years.  Currently a senior US district judge in Massachusetts, with responsibility for federal criminal and civil cases in the four western counties, Judge Ponsor has turned his expertise to the writing of legal thrillers.  The Hanging Judge received critical acclaim and is a Massachusetts ‘Must Read’ for the realistic view it gives readers into the workings of the American judicial system and the moral question of the death penalty.  

We discussed Judge Ponsor’s duties as a federal judge, ethical and moral issues as viewed from the bench, decisions about his characters, revisions of the novel, and a wide range of judicial logistics.  Former WMRLS and MLS staff member Mary King and former WMLA Board member Jim Craig won copies of The Hanging Judge as door prizes.  Judge Ponsor signed their copies and others that participants brought or purchased.  This is the first book in a series and it is available in audio.  The discussion was stimulating, informative and enjoyable, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to tour Holyoke’s new library.  Many of the participants are arranging to have Judge Ponsor speak at their libraries. 

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