DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Nonfiction Author Robert K. Tanenbaum



Robert Tanenbaum’s legal career as a prosecutor mirrors the best, and the worst, of this country. Brooklyn native Tanenbaum became the homicide bureau chief for the NY District Attorney’s Office, where he never lost a felony trial. He played a role during the congressional investigations into the murders of President John F. Kennedy and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King by serving as the Deputy Chief Counsel in charge of the investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. He’s also served as Mayor of Beverly Hills, taught at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, and conducted continuing education seminars for lawyers in several states. His commitment to seeking justice has never wavered. 

“Echoes of My Soul” is Tanenbaum’s first nonfiction venture in over 25 years. He chose a subject close to his heart because of the people involved, which includes his mentors, D.A. Frank Hogan, John Keenan, and Mel Glass, to whom Tanenbaum credits in helping formulate his professional career. “Echoes of My Soul” is an insider’s account of the rape-murders of Janet Wylie and Emily Hoffert, which became known as the Career Girls Murders Case. It also focuses attention on the coercive methods used by police to elicit false confessions from George Whitmore, wrongly accused for committing the murders. 

The methods/force used by police to elicit false confessions from Whitmore became instrumental in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that prescribed what we know as the Miranda Warnings. Miranda requires law enforcement to advise suspects subject to custodial interrogation of their rights, including but not limited to the right to have an attorney present during questioning and the right to remain silent. The Wylie-Hoffert case is also held to be partly responsible for New York State’s abolition of the death penalty. 

Tanenbaum incorporated trial transcripts and never before publicly viewed crime scene photos, along with D.A. Mel Glass’s direct input, to write a stirring account of events that forever changed law enforcement procedures and the steps taken to further protect citizens against wrongful prosecution. “Echoes” is a story of drama, anguish, perseverance, and a fight for justice in the face of injustice. But don’t forget that “Echoes” is also about the victims, Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie, brutally murdered in their apartment, and the search for their killer. 

“Echoes” could have been a tedious, laboring read rife with legal jargon most readers would never connect with. Instead, Tanenbaum crafted his book into a fast paced thriller/mystery using fact to keep readers on the edge of their seats. This is a seriously good book that while entertaining, never wavers from its mission to tell the truth and chronicle a search for justice on many levels – much like Robert Tanenbaum.

Q) What made you decide to return to nonfiction for the first time since 1987? 

A) I was requested by my mentor at the NY District Attorney’s Office (“DAO”), Mel Glass, to write the truth, the inside account of the Wylie/Hoffert double murder/rape case.  In my judgment, it is the single most important case ever to come out of the NYDAO.  The manner in which the case was investigated and prosecuted in the N.Y. Supreme Court has become the paradigm of the Ministry of Justice, the beacon of integrity for all of law enforcement to measure up to and emulate.  When mistakes are made, admit to them and correct them.  Seek truth and do justice without fear or favor as professionally and effectively as possible. 

Q) How did being a part of the Kennedy and King investigations affect you? 

A) When I served as deputy chief counsel to the congressional committee investigation into the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., I was astounded by the incompleteness and lack of professionalism of the Warren Commission effort.  The federal executive intelligence agencies responsible for the investigation had their own agendas that regrettably conflicted with the search for truth. 

Having been trained in the DAO of legendary D.A. Frank Hogan, I was undeterred by those who sought to influence the investigation by applying political pressures or other considerations that were anathema to the search for truth.  Ultimately, when the committee actively compromised the integrity of the probe, I tendered my resignation.  The committee members’ political crassness and timidity breached their duty to inform the American people about the truth. 

Q) Working within the justice system forever changes a person’s outlook about society. Do you
foresee a day when you can truly walk away and live a life outside the halls of justice?
 

A) The concept of American execeptionalism is rooted in our Judeo/Christian value system.  Its essence is that we are a moral people who attempt to institutionalize virtue, while recognizing that evil exists, and that it must be confronted and defeated decisively. 

At its most compelling, there is a moral dimension to our value system that exists and ought to influence and determine the decisions that we make in our private and public lives.  Certainly, public officials are mandated pursuant to our founding documents, The Declaration of Independence/Constitution – two promissory notes – to be guided by and act consonant with these moral and legal precepts. 

To do justice in our lives, to be civil, tolerant, rational and forthright is to enhance the dignity not only of ourselves but of the public office we may occupy, the job we hold and the culture in which we thrive.  These values are everlasting.  We need to experience them so that we may always be reminded who we are and from where we came.  When faced with cultural coarsening, we seek affirmation of triumph.  Echoes of My Soul satisfies that need. 

Whether inside or out from the halls of justice, my life, my moral quest remains the same. 

Q) The events portrayed in “Echoes” are extremely important and masterfully told. Do you sometimes fear the book’s entertainment value might override the critical message? 

A) Seems to me that the more entertaining the presentation, the more intense the message. 

Q) The obvious question: Will there be more nonfiction works from you, and if so, what’s on the horizon? 

A) I will definitely engage in presenting more dramatic, tempestuous and garish confrontational non-fiction accounts.  It’s important to continue the process of enlightening through the prism of satisfying entertainment. 

Q) A question purely out of curiosity. As a retired police chief, I’ve been known to throw cheese puffs at the TV when law enforcement procedures, and especially Miranda, are bastardized to fit an implausible story. Do your hackles ever get raised at the misinformation TV spews out from time to time? 

A) Yes, ABSOLUTELY!  I share your concern that it is of the utmost importance for the media to have legitimate experts knowledgeable and savvy about the criminal justice system to discuss the crucial issues of the day.  Unfortunately, we experience, all too frequently, less than competent pontificating talking heads spinning inaccurate reportage!
DA Kentner is an award-winning author www.kevad.net

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

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