The Hanging Judge
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The Hanging Judge

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trial

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborho...more
Paperback, 376 pages
Published December 3rd 2013 by Open Road Media E-riginal (first published January 1st 2013)
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There are tons of mysteries and courtroom dramas novel seen in the perspective of the lawyer, the law enforcement officer, and even the indicted. But The Hanging Judge may be the first novel I have read that is mainly in the perspective of the judge. It is because the author, Michael Posner has been a judge since 1984 and is currently a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.. It's nice to see a novel written by someone who knows all the facts, intricacies an...more
Dec 11, 2013 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy legal/crime novels
This is what I would describe as an intelligent crime/legal novel, which makes good sense as the author is a long time senior U.S. district judge in the United States District Court of Massachusetts, Western Division. Ponsor manages the delicate task of balancing all the myriad sides of a major criminal trial from the commission of the crime, through the investigation and the trial. Along the way there are glimpses of the personal lives of all involved.

At first I questioned the level of some of...more
Patrice Hoffman
Legal thrillers of any sort are my absolute favorite. There's something about a trial that is just so captivating. The outcome of the trial always has me on the edge of my seat. No matter if it is a good legal based novel, movie, or Law & Order episode, I am hooked. This debut The Hanging Judge by federal judge Michael Posner, was no different for me.

The Hanging Judge begins with the murder of a local gang member, Edgar "Peach" Delgado, and an innocent bystander, pediatric nurse, Ginger Dal...more
Excellent legal novel told from a unique perspective: that of a federal judge. The author, a sitting federal judge (although some research revealed he intended to retire soon)*, graphically recreates the events leading up to the trial of a man for a drive-by shooting. There is a lot of doubt in the minds of the read that Moon, a former gang-member, is actually the shooter. A cop coming on duty had seen the alleged shooter leap from a car and had identified him originally as a Hispanic, but the p...more
switterbug (Betsey)
I selected this book because I enjoy an absorbing legal thriller, and the accolades were mostly positive. Additionally, the premise of the story, as well as the author's academic creds--Yale and Harvard--were heightened by the fact that he is a U.S. district judge in Massachusetts. The story is told mostly through the eyes of the federal judge, David Norcross, presiding over the case. Massachusetts (my original home state) doesn't have the death penalty. But what if a RICO crime, linked to a dri...more
Liz Wilkins
Coming December from Open Road Media

Thank you to the publisher, author and netgalley for the advanced copy of this book.

Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trial.

Well what an intriguing and fascinating read this was. Starting with a bang so to speak, as we get an overview of the crime and me...more
This is an intense story from the first page. There is everything in this book: murder, suspense, romance, and a deep look into the United States justice system. I do have a couple of issues with the story, however.

The inclusion of the story of the unfair trial and execution of two men in 1806 interrupts the flow, overall. It was interesting, especially the quotes from surviving documentation, but I think it would have worked better for me if it were left until the conclusion of the book.

At ti...more
An Unfortunate, Probably Accurate, Look at our Judicial System

A drive-by shooting leaves a drug dealer and a young mother dead. Alex Torricelli, a cop, gives chase. He manages to grab the driver of the car, but the shooter gets away. The police arrest a black drug dealer, but is he guilty?

The US attorney is looking for a capital murder case to impose the death penalty. This is the chosen case and Judge David Norcross is put on the spot. The star witness is the sixteen-year-old driver of the car...more
I could not wait to read Michael Ponsor's book The Hanging Judge. The first draw for me was my absolute love for legal thrillers, but the second was the locale. I lived half of my life in New England and any book that will take me back their with any authenticity makes me very happy.

The Hanging Judge brings the reader inside the the courtroom of a death penalty case. It does so in a way that is absolutely flooring. Not only does the reader get to see the case from the side of the judge, the law...more
An engaging story that never gets old because you get the perspectives of almost everyone involved--judge, suspect, the suspect's family, the victim's family, lawyers. The murder trial is the main story that runs through the book and holds everything together, but the subplots and side stories are just as interesting and really help fill out the world of The Hanging Judge. The characters are unique--some likable, some detestable (but that keeps it fun!).

Apparently the debut novel of a real life...more
Mike  Davis
I found this a very well written crime novel with the requisite court room tension and unpredictable follow up. The perspective of a judge is somewhat unique in current literature, and gives this narrative a boost beyond the ordinary. While giving the reader insight into the inner workings of a criminal trial, it also highlights the tensions encountered by the judges who sit on the bench. This is more than worthy of a read, especially for fans of court room drama.

This novel was received in e-boo...more
I really enjoyed "The Hanging Judge!" It was written by a Federal judge and I found the characters believable and interesting. I have served on a rape and double murder case and the stress of being a juror is intense. This book shows the emotional roller coaster ride everyone in the courtroom must endure. Anyone wishing to become a criminal attorney or sitting judge must read this. I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. No compensat...more
A legal thriller about the death penalty told from the perspective of a judge written by a judge with death penalty case experience - sounds worth reading, right? It's a decent book - well thought out and considered and provides a window into the world of death penalty trials that will be familiar to anyone who loves legal thrillers, reads the news, or watches Law and Order and shows of its ilk.

All the usual characters are here - the dead gang banger, the equally dead innocent bystander, the am...more
Tere Fredericks
I get notification of new books purchased by my library every week (Wowbrary, and see if your library has it, it's WONDERFUL!). The blurb on this one started out as:

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a hockey mom volunteering at an inner-city clinic the police arrest a rival gang member. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so he can seek...more
Darcia Helle
I read quite a bit of nonfiction on death penalty cases, and I was looking forward to a fictional take from an author who is also a judge. Unfortunately, this book was a major disappointment for me.

First, I want to say Michael Ponsor does an exceptional job of showing the problems within our court system. If you're unfamiliar with the intricate web we call justice, which is often more about procedure and politics than innocence and guilt, then this will be an eye-opening read.

One problem I had...more
This is not just another murder trial that might result in the much debated death penalty. This story is told from the point of view on the judge on the case. Judge David Norcross is the appointed judge in the trial of a former gang member who is accused of shooting a rival gang member and an innocent bystander. There is of course some question all the way through as to whether or not he has actually committed the crime, but we do know he is not above such as act. In most lawyer/crime books the...more
Shelley Fearn
After reading review from some of the other readers, it seems that whether one likes the book or not might depend on how much one knows about the legal system and court proceedings.

From the author's bio, Ponsor is a judge who presided over an actual death penalty case in 2000 that lasted 5 months and was the first such case in Massachusetts in 50 years. If you have that fact, you have the basis for the novel.

As a debut novel it was interesting but lacked the polish and character development foun...more
A great crime/legal thriller with enough uncertainty and twists to keep you fully engaged. It includes an accurate portrayal of the legal system and provides good insight into the personalities of the various players. A good read regardless of where you come down on the death penalty.
What a great read. This book takes you of the process of a death penalty court case. Gives you the feel of how intense and stressful it can be for all sides in the case. It makes you just stop and Think about the death penalty and weather it is right or wrong.

As a disclaimer, I work in the legal profession so I know my way around the court room pretty well. To me this book was typical of someone who is well educated, skilled in a profession, and well read. Those attributes do not make one a skilled writer.

The characters were painfully stereotypical and boring. The writing itself was not bad, albeit pretty boring as well. The ending of the book was just off.

Ponsor spends the majority of the book cramming his own beliefs and agendas down the readers...more
A brilliant look into a capital case by a federal court judge a rare insiders view of the federal court system a chilling page turner
Terri Broerse
Great book. Very nicely written. Story and characters came alive with each page. Never new what to expect next. Highly recommend.
I enjoyed this novel. As someone who has come to be very much against the death penalty, it was fascinating to get an insider's view in fiction form about the processes, politics, and other intricacies that surround such a case.

My criticisms of this book run into particulars which are probably more a matter of personal taste than anything.

There seems to be some need in many novels of this genre and others to flesh out a character by giving him or her a love interest. Sometimes this works, but...more
Michael Ponsor's skillfully written novel was the first legal thriller I've read that was written from the point of view of the judge. Judge Norcross is faced with the daunting prospect of trying a federal capital murder case that could lead to the death penalty. This book takes you from the commission of a crime, through the investigation, the grueling trial, and the aftermath. Ponsor sheds light on a legal system that is complex and frustrating, not just for the families dealing with loss and...more
Robin Tauer
Very good story

Very good story

I love a good legal thriller. This one is from the judge's point of view, giving this procedural a particularly interesting aspect. All the characters were sympathetic in their own way, and so it was really difficult to decide just how it would all turn out. I found the end to be quite satisfying, although not at all predicted. There were winners and losers alright, but not in the usual sense. Like life these characters are not all bad or all good and their just rew...more
I found this book randomly on my kindle deals app. It was surprisingly well-written, and I think it was the author's first and only book. It was a little hard to read at times, because there are so many characters, but he does a good job reminding you who people are. It was fascinating to read about the case from so many different perspectives. The story is completely fictional, but the author is a judge and wanted to write about a death penalty case. I have always liked John Grisham books, so i...more
Nov 03, 2013 M marked it as dnf
Shelves: netgalley-books
Quit at 31%. Can't get I to this book, tired of trying.
Review and giveaway posted on Kindles & Wine

The Hanging Judge had me hooked right away! The book was split into many meaningful parts and the prologue starts off with a bang, setting the stage for what is to come. I could tell right away that I was going to like the style of Michael Ponsor’s writing. He found a way to portray the reality of life on the streets, and yet wrote differently (as makes sense) when the story shifted to the courtroom. Even though there were many scene switches bac...more
The book carries us through the commission of the crime, the arrest, the choice of a venue for the trial, jury selection, and the trial. We get the point of view of not only the attorneys and the family and friends of the accused and the victims, but also the judge. And on top of all of this we get a romance.

The fictional story is framed with the true story of two men in Massachusetts who were executed for a crime they did not commit. Dominic Daley, 34, and James Halligan, 27, were arrested in 1...more
disclaimer – i received an e-galley of this book from open road media in exchange for an honest review.

the state of massachusetts doesn’t have the death penalty so when a horrifying double murder takes place in front of a neighborhood clinic, the united states attorney for the district has the defendant charged in federal court so that he will face the death penalty.

the murders are just the start of the action in the hanging judge. written with an almost frantic pace and a taut style, this court...more
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Michael Ponsor graduated from Harvard, received a Rhodes Scholarship, and studied for two years at Pembroke College, Oxford. After taking his law degree from Yale and clerking in federal court in Boston, he began his legal career, specializing in criminal defense. He moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1978, where he practiced as a trial attorney in his own firm until his appointment in 1984 as a...more
More about Michael Ponsor...

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“If you want the best evidence of just how strong our democracy is, come into the courtroom.” 5 likes
“For me, taking the sort of dry principles of the law and bringing them into contact with human beings . . . it's like you jump into hyperspace. And everything that's dull about the books and the theory becomes provocative.” 4 likes
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