West Virginia University School of Journalism Assistant Professor John Temple has been granted funding from the WVU Faculty Senate so he can research a book about a team of death penalty lawyers.
In April, Temple released”Deadhouse: Life in a Coroners Office.”In”Deadhouse”Temple observed a group of death investigators who work in the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office. Published by the University Press of Mississippi, the book focuses on how these people did their job and the effect it had on their lives.
In the same spirit, Temple’s new project will focus on the unusual nature of a job.
“The subjects definitely have some similarities �€they both are about people who choose to work in an extraordinary field under difficult circumstances,”Temple said.
Temple will shadow a group of North Carolina lawyers as they fight the death penalty sentence of a man who was convicted of murder in 1993.
Temple’s research will focus on attorneys and investigators at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL) in Durham, N.C. The non-profit organization took on the case seven years ago, weeks before the inmate was scheduled to die by lethal injection. The CDPL won a stay of execution and undertook an extensive investigation which turned up some troubling facts.
The grant for nearly $10,000 will allow Temple to spend a month in North Carolina, where he will be conducting interviews with people associated with the case. In addition, he plans to return to cover the final appeals process.
Temple will turn his research into a book of narrative, immersion journalism that focuses on the lawyers who do the grueling job of defending death row inmates.
“It will be an even-handed look at a difficult and strange profession, a narrative that will provide insight into the issues surrounding capital punishment without joining the debate,”he wrote in his grant proposal.
Temple heads the News-Editorial sequence at the School of Journalism. He co-edited”Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss and Hope,”a student-produced book about a group of cancer patients.
Temple worked in the newspaper business for six years. He was the health/education reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review , a general assignment reporter for the News&Record in Greensboro, N.C., and a government and politics reporter for the Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Fla.