Categotry Archives: Law


Jim Grigson


Categories: Law, Medicine

Dr. James Paul Grigson, a forensic psychiatrist who testified about the mental health of murderers, died on June 3 of lung cancer. He was 72.
Born in Texarkana, Texas, Grigson graduated from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Medical School. He originally practiced medicine in emergency rooms, delivering more than 300 babies, then focused on psychiatry so he could spend more time with his own family.
For the next four decades, Grigson provided paid expert testimony on whether people charged with homicide should go to prison or were legally insane and needed hospitalization. Hired by both prosecutors and defense attorneys, he was nicknamed “Dr. Death” for his contributions to 150 capital murder trials. In a majority of those cases, Grigson determined the defendants were sociopaths who would likely kill again.
Grigson was reviled and revered for his medical opinions, charming demeanor on the stand and absolute judgments. His reputation was tarnished in 1995, however, when he predicted a felon’s potential threat to society without actually interviewing him. Grigson was later expelled from the American Psychiatric Association and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians. In recent years, he stopped testifying in death penalty cases, but continued to work on civil cases and mental-competency reviews.


Prentice Marshall Sr.


Categories: Law

pmarshall.jpgPrentice H. Marshall Sr., a retired federal judge who fought for the rights of women and minorities, died on May 24. Cause of death was not released. He was 77.
The Oak Park, Ill., native joined the Navy right out of high school. He attended the University of Illinois College of Law on the G.I. Bill, clerked for Judge Walter C. Lindley of the U.S. Court of Appeals then joined the Chicago firm now known as Jenner & Block. There he launched the firm’s pro bono program and earned a reputation as an excellent trial and appellate lawyer. In 1967, Marshall joined the faculty of his alma mater; a chair at the school was later endowed in his honor.
Despite his Democratic leanings, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Marshall to the federal bench in 1973. Wearing his trademark bowtie, he spent more than two decades as a U.S. District judge.
During the 1970s, Marshall ordered the Chicago Police Department to hire female police officers and to end discrimination against minority cops. In the 1980s, he permanently enjoined the Immigration and Naturalization Service from invading factories or homes in order to interrogate Hispanics about their citizenship status. Marshall also ordered the Stateville maximum security prison to provide medical care for its prisoners and halted the enforcement of abortion restrictions passed by the Illinois General Assembly. He retired in 1996.
Outside of the law, Marshall’s passion was baseball — particularly the Chicago Cubs. He even requested that mourners play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at his funeral.


Joseph L. Gormley

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Categories: Business, Government, Law

Joseph L. Gormley, the retired chief of chemistry and toxicology for the FBI, died on June 6 from complications of cancer. He was 90.
Born in Clinton, Mass., Gormley received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Boston College. In 1940, he moved to Washington D.C. and joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Gormley continued his academic pursuits, earning a law degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in forensic science from George Washington University.
He spent more than three decades with the FBI, investigating some of the agency’s most famous cases, including the Great Brinks Robbery in 1950 and the 1964 murders of three young civil rights workers, which became known as the “Mississippi Burning” case. He served as an expert witness in numerous trials, testifying on his knowledge of chemistry, toxicology and arson. For more than 20 years, Gormley supervised a program that developed the use of lie detector tests for investigative purposes.
He retired from the FBI in 1973, then directed the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory and worked in the research and training divisions of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The former president of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists, Gormley also taught at GW and the University of Maryland.
In his spare time, Gormley fathered nine children and built a small side business recreating well-known perfumes and fragrances. He used the perfumery profits to pay for his children’s educations.


Jerry Diskin


Categories: Law

jdiskin.jpgFrancis Jerome “Jerry” Diskin, a federal prosecutor who handled terrorism, fraud and drug cases, died on June 1 from complications of brain surgery. He was 57.

A native of Mineola, N.Y., Diskin graduated from Catholic University in Washington D.C., and earned his law degree from Georgetown University. He clerked for Judge Harry E. Wood at the U.S. Court of Claims for a year, then spent three years with the Army Judge Advocate Corps at Fort Lewis Base in Washington.

Diskin launched a 30-year career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1976. Working out of the Western District of Washington branch, he served as chief of the criminal division, senior litigation counsel, supervisor of the drug unit and interim U.S. attorney.

In 2001, Diskin gained national attention for successfully prosecuting the “Millennium Bomber.” Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam was arrested in 1999 as he tried to enter the U.S. from British Columbia through Port Angeles, Wash. In a truck filled with bomb-making materials, Ressam planned to drive down the West coast and blow up Los Angeles International Airport. Instead, he was apprehended by authorities and prosecuted by Diskin for plotting terrorist activities.

Ressam was convicted of conspiracy to commit international terrorism and on various explosives charges. In exchange for a reduced prison sentence, he has provided information to the government about Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

Diskin’s superior performance as an assistant U.S. attorney was recognized in 2001 when he received a Director’s Award from the United States Attorney General.

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