MLA Gold Award Site

Excerpt from Justice - Crimes, Trials, and Punishments by Dominick Dunne, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Justice - Crimes, Trials, and Punishments

by Dominick Dunne

Justice - Crimes, Trials, and Punishments
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2001, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2002, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Justice:
A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daughter's Killer

It was the beginning of a long hot summer. I flew to Los Angeles on July 5, 1983, for an indefinite stay. Throughout the flight from New York I engaged in diligent conversation with the stranger next to me, postponing as long as possible facing the feelings of dread within me. My two sons, Griffin and Alex, had preceded me out from New York. Alex, the younger one, met me at the airport, and we drove into Beverly Hills to the house where my former wife, Ellen Griffin Dunne, called Lenny, lives. Griffin was already there. It is not the house we lived in as a family. It is smaller and on one level. Lenny has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. We were gathering, a family again, for a murder trial.

The first time I saw Lenny she was getting off a train at the railroad station in Hartford, Connecticut. She was ravishing, and I knew that instant that I would marry her if she would have me. We had a large wedding at her family's ranch in Nogales, Arizona, in 1954, and after living briefly in New York, we moved to Beverly Hills, where I worked for twenty-five years in television and films. We had five children, two of whom died when they were only a few days old. Long divorced, we have, rightly or wrongly, never become unmarried. Often I have felt through the years that our lives might have been better if we had just stuck out the difficult years of our marriage, but I do not know if she would agree with that. We never venture into the realm of what might have been. I refer to her in conversation as my wife, never my ex-wife, and there is not a day in which she does not occupy my thoughts for some period of time. We communicate regularly and mail each other clippings we cut out of newspapers, and I no longer resent, as I once did, addressing her as Mrs. E. Griffin Dunne rather than as Mrs. Dominick Dunne.

When the telephone in my New York apartment woke me at five o'clock in the morning on October 31, 1982, I sensed as I reached for the receiver that disaster loomed. Det. Harold Johnston of the Los Angeles Homicide Bureau told me that my twenty-two-year-old daughter, Dominique, was near death at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I asked him if he had notified my wife. He said he was calling from her home. Lenny got on the phone and said, "I need you."

"What happened?" I asked, afraid to hear.

"Sweeney," she answered.

"I'll be on the first plane."

I called Griffin, then twenty-seven, who lives two blocks away from me in New York, and within minutes he was at my door. He called TWA and reserved a seat on the next flight. Then he went to an automatic teller machine and got me money. As I threw clothes into a suitcase, I hesitated over my black suit and tie, thinking they might be bad luck, but I packed them. Before I got into the taxi, I hugged Griffin and kissed him. He was to go then to the apartment of my second son, Alex, and break the news to him. Uniquely individual, Alex chose to live with no telephone on Pitt Street in a relatively inaccessible part of New York. Only Alex, of the four of us, had voiced his dislike of John Sweeney when Dominique introduced him into our lives.

She had brought him to New York several months earlier for the boys and me to meet. Dominique was a successful young television actress, who had just made her first major feature film, Poltergeist. Sweeney was the head chef at Ma Maison, a West Hollywood restaurant so concerned with its fashionable image that it had an unlisted telephone number to discourage the hoi polloi from entering its portals. We watched an episode of the television series Fame in which Dominique was the guest star, and then went out to dinner. At one moment when the four of us were alone, the boys teased Dominique about marriage, and she said, oh no, she was not getting married, and I knew she meant it. I was relieved, for although I could see Sweeney was excessively devoted to her, there was something off-putting about him. That night I phoned her mother and said, "He is much more in love with her than she is with him," and Lenny said, "You're absolutely right."

Copyright 2001 by Dominick Dunne Used by permission of Crown Publishing.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    by Con Lehane
    It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling...
  • Book Jacket: The Loney
    The Loney
    by Andrew Hurley
    Landscape can be a writer's best friend. Whether it's the mountains of England's lake...
  • Book Jacket: The Mirror Thief
    The Mirror Thief
    by Martin Seay
    It is easy to see why Martin Seay's debut novel, The Mirror Thief, has been compared to David ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
    by Phaedra Patrick

    In a poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Children

From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary

The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Greek T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.