The Reprieve supporter who put a man on death row

By Clive Stafford Smith

Max Mancini is a generous benefactor of Reprieve, donating to assist our work in seeking to abolish the death penalty. Max Mancini is also a dastardly District Attorney who put a man by the name of Link Scanlon on death row.

The explanation for this paradox may be found in John Grisham’s latest legal thriller, Rogue Lawyer:

“Max Mancini [is] the City’s chief prosecutor and a true legend in his own mind. He’s been popping off in the press all week as the countdown grew louder. Link will be his first execution, and he wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

John Grisham has himself been an imaginative supporter of Reprieve. For example, when we tried to get his book The Innocent Man in to our client Nabil Hadjarab in Guantánamo Bay it was banned (apparently the prison will not contemplate the notion that not everyone in prison is guilty). Grisham wrote a compelling piece in the New York Times concerning Nabil’s plight.

Then a year ago he allowed us to auction the name of a character in his next book at a fund raiser to help underwrite our work. Max Mancini paid a generous amount, some £5,000. I bought Rogue Lawyer at the airport a few days ago, and I discovered that Mancini’s generosity had bought him a place as an immoral prosecutor.

It cost John Grisham nothing to allow us to auction off the name, but that sum of money raised has helped to get 42 people off Death Row and back to liberty in faraway Malawi, where we have a small but hard-hitting project. It shows how far generosity can travel.

I sent Max a note pointing out his recently acquired infamy as one of America’s truly reprehensible prosecutors. He wrote back immediately, offering to underwrite a sequel where his character could seek redemption. He might want to be wary: In Rogue Lawyer, Scanlon escaped prison in a helicopter hours before his scheduled execution, and is out there somewhere, waiting to exact his revenge on the man who originally put him on death row.