Preventative Measures

The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has undoubtedly shocked most of us.  Almost two weeks have passed, and while the airways have been filled with talk of gun control and mental health reform, it’s unlikely anything substantial will happen to address the multitude of issues causing and emanating from mass shootings.  I hope I’m wrong, but history tells me the fervor will soon abate, and we will return to normal.  As we did after the shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.

Solutions are difficult to find, as it seems the reasons for mass shootings are as unique as the perpetrators.  In most cases, the gunman doesn’t survive, so we have few clues as to what he was thinking, if he was thinking at all.  Anger seems to be a recurring theme.  It’s difficult for rational human beings to understand the relationship between an angry man (or boy) and the disproportionate response of firing a fusillade of bullets at innocents.  Is mental instability the only reasonable explanation we can offer?

These are sensitive topics to discuss in the wake of recent tragedy, and yet topics worthy of serious exploration.  How do we prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future?  Can we?  In Ultimate Verdict, we are confronted with the acts of a rogue Judge who decides that vigilante justice is one certain way to redress injustice in our system.  Fictional anti-hero Judge Raleigh Westlake struggles with the irrationality of murder, and he devotes his career to dispensing justice — sometimes within the system; sometimes despite the system.   Though he has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, the Judge ponders whether every killer deserves the protections of due process and public trials, or whether in some cases those procedures should be abandoned for the sake of swift, ultimate justice.   Are there certain mass murders so heinous, so outrageous, so beyond the bounds of humanity, that the killer by his very act has forfeited his right to a trial by jury?  Ask yourself this question.

Vigilante Justice

Our system of justice is broken.  More than one third of all murders are never solved.  Mass killings are on the rise.  Predatory criminals and companies victimize millions of people and are never brought to justice.

In Ultimate Verdict, we follow the trials and travails of Judge Raleigh Westlake, a federal judge who presides in Asheville, North Carolina.   After a dozen years on the bench, he lands his first murder case — the brutal stabbing of a young woman on a snow-covered mountain.  The killer is convicted and given the death penalty, but the appellate court reverses the conviction on a technicality, and the killer must be freed.  Judge Westlake decides to take a stand.

In a secret, mobile courtroom, the Judge brings the killer to trial a second time, and this time there is no appeal.  The killer is executed at sunrise on a beach in Florida.  If the system worked, he wouldn’t have to resort to vigilante justice.  To ensure the secrecy of their mission, the Judge and his loyal cohorts must operate in the dark, disguising the death sentences as accidents or suicides.

But when a United States Congressman gets away with a massive Ponzi scheme, ruining the lives of thousands, the cabal must send a message.  The Congressman is tried in the secret courtroom in the semi-trailer and sentenced to death by rattlesnake.  In the ensuing manhunt for the vigilantes, Judge Westlake must confront his own guilt and a traitor in their midst.  With the FBI closing in, will the vigilantes be forced to face their own lawlessness, or will they survive to continue their quest for ultimate justice?

The book is available now on Amazon.


front cover