The Devil’s Defender
In the bestselling tradition of legal memoirs from the likes of Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, Gerry Spence, and Alan Dershowitz, John Henry Browne’s memoir,The Devil’s Defender, recounts his tortuous education in what it means to be an advocate—and a human being.
For the last four decades, Seattle-based criminal defense lawyer John Henry Browne has defended the indefensible. From Facebook folk hero “the Barefoot Bandit” Colton Moore, to Benjamin Ng of the Wah Mee massacre, to Kandahar massacre culprit Sgt. Robert Bales, Browne has stood at the forefront of our national debate over the death penalty, putting on trial our most base and violent instincts—and the institutional deficiencies that let our most vulnerable fall through the cracks. His unceasing advocacy and the daring to take on some of the most unwinnable cases—and nearly win them all—has led 48 Hours’ Peter Van Sant to call him “the most famous lawyer in America.”
But although the Browne that America has come to know cuts a dashing and confident figure, most recently putting America’s wartime intentions in Afghanistan on public trial during his representation of Sgt. Robert Bales, the real John Henry has forever been haunted by his very first job out of law school: counsel to Ted Bundy, the most famous serial killer in American history. For nearly twenty years, Bundy pursued Browne to represent him in court, in large part because Bundy believed “they were the same.”
A drug- and alcohol-addicted (yet wildly successful) defense attorney who could never let go of the case that started it all, Browne here traces the roots of his discontent as well as his dedication, asking of himself the question others have asked him all along: does defending evil make you evil, too?