The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege is about Michael Anderson, an aging African American man who grew up poor and abused on Chicago’s south side, then came to Eastern Washington, and has now spent the last forty-three years in Washington prisons. The book describes Michael’s early life of trauma and crime, his trial in a conservative white community before a bigoted judge, his moral and spiritual transformation in prison, and a curious friendship that started in 1979 when the author was a young lawyer appointed to represent Anderson on twenty-two violent felony charges. Partly about race and white privilege and partly about a criminal justice system that keeps harmless old men in prison until they die, the book also raises larger questions about faith and what it is that determines our individual destinies.
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George Critchlow is an emeritus professor who taught law at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington for many years. He is also an experienced trial lawyer with civil and criminal experience in state courts, federal courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
He has taught international human rights law and consulted in Europe, South America, and the Middle East. Critchlow’s interest in fairness, equal opportunity, and civil liberties has been a central part of his professional life.
He has now transitioned from a world of legal briefs and law review articles to creative writing that has freed him to say what he wants without lots of tedious footnotes.