Picking Cotton

Picking Cotton
Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo

*Jury Duty Reading List*

When this book was tossed in my lap, I just let it sit on my bedside table.  I stared at it.  I did not want to read a book about rape, much less about a white woman mistakenly identifying a black man for the crime.  The book sat and stared back until after a few weeks, I picked it up.

There are so many things that could have gone wrong with this book:  it could have focused on racial prejudices and alienated the reader; it could have emphasized religion to the point of becoming a born-again tome; it could have evolved into a feminist anti-rape campaign.  This memoir was a pleasant surprise (if one could possibly be pleasantly surprised by rape and incarceration).

Instead, the authors provide an honest report of the timeline of events and the concurrent thoughts and emotions.  I did thirst for a more in-depth explanation of the impact of investigator bias on the witness and the re-encoding of memory.  The point was nonetheless made:  memory is a fluid process, not a snapshot of fact.  REQUIRED READING for any prospective juror.

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