Innocent Man by John Grisham
The Summer Reading program, sponsored by the English Department at Padua Franciscan High School, is designed to entice students to read and recognize notable contemporary literature. We wish to engage student interest, encourage critical thinking, and challenge our students as readers. As such, some titles on the list may contain sensitive material and deal with more mature themes than some students may have encountered previously. The target audience of all the selected literature is young adults; however, not every book will suit every reader, which is why there are different titles from which students may choose. More information about all of the novels can be found through the local libraries or through Students are requested to share their Summer Reading choice with their parents and/or guardians. Additionally, the English Department strongly encourages students and parents/guardians to discuss the content, themes, and overall inherent literary value of the selected novels. Happy Reading! General Note: These reading questions are meant only as a guide to the novel. These will not be collected or graded.
Your grade on the novel will be based on an objective test and a follow-up essay that will be given within the first week of
school. For your own benefit, it is highly suggested that you also keep a list of major plot happenings, characters,
settings, etc. per chapter. We look forward to seeing you in August!!!
1. What was the evidence that they used to tie Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz to the murder of Debra Carter?
Was the evidence solid and offer a clear picture of guilt? Was the evidence very flimsy and only acted upon to achieve a conviction and “solve” the murder of Debra Carter? 2. What are the Supreme Court Cases discussed by John Grisham on pages 105 to 107 that discuss the rights of
those under investigation or charged with crimes? Which case is the most well known and seen in movies and on television shows? 3. What is the involvement of the subplot of the disappearance of Denice Haraway in The Innocent Man? Is it
used to showcase a parallel between the case of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz to Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot? 4. What was the motivation to give Ron Williamson the drug thorazine while waiting in jail for the trial to
begin? Did the drug help or could it also have been disastrous for him? 5. Was there any type of vetting process with the jail house snitches? Did the police ensure that their testimony
was honest or were the snitches not vetted at all for accuracy and truthfulness? 6. What type of evidence was brought before the jury in the trials of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz? Which
piece of evidence lead to a study by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and found that it was subjective and prone to biases? 7. Describe how John Grisham portrays executions and life on death row. What emotion is Grisham trying to
8. How did the two men adjust to life within prison? What were their difference and similarities? How did Ron
handle his incarceration differently than Dennis? 9. The individuals that were petitioning the state in Ron’s appeal process did they initially do their work out of
conviction for Ron’s innocence or because it was part of their job? 10. What were the emotions that were felt amongst everybody upon the dropping of charges and the release of
Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz? What became of their lives following their release? Ultimately, when Ron found out he was going to die, what were his feelings towards death?
Vocabulary Words

Prima Donna (n.) – A vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team (pp.
Polygraph Exam (n.) – An instrument for recording variations of several different pulsations (as of physiological
variables) simultaneously (Multiple Pages)
Sociopath (n.) – A person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior iften criminal, and who lacks a
sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. (pp. 116)
Thorazine (n.) – Treats mental disorders, severe behavior disorders, severe hiccups, severe nausea and vomiting, and
certain types of porphyria. Also used before and after surgery to relieve anxiety (pp. 117)
Coercion (n.) – The use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance (pp. 119)
Schizophrenia (n). – A mental disorder that makes it hard to: tell the difference between what is real and not real; think
clearly; have normal emotional responses; act normally in social situations. (pp. 98)
Atypical (adj.) – irregular, unusual (pp. 175)
Snitch (n.) – An individual who gains information within jail or prison and reports it to the authorities (pp. 189)
Criminalist (n.) - A specialist in the collection and examination of the physical evidence of crime. (pp. 190)
In absentia (adj.) – In the absence, a trial at which the defendant is not present. (pp. 196)
Aggravating (v.) – To make worse or more severe; intensify, as anything evil, disorderly, or troublesome (pp. 199)
Mitigating (v.) – To make less severe. (pp. 199)
Discovery (n.) – Compulsory disclosure, as of facts or documents. (pp. 209)
Potassium Chloride (n.) – A drug to stop the heart in an execution (pp. 232)
Visitation (n.) – Formalas one permitted by a court's granting of(pp. 238)
Emaciate (v.) – To make abnormally lean or thin by a gradual wasting away of flesh. (pp. 273)
Discrepancy (n.) – An instance of difference or inconsistency. (pp. 282)
DNA (n.) – Deoxyribonucleic Acid; the genetic information of DNA is encoded in the sequence of the bases and is
transcribed as the strands unwind and replicate. (Multiple Pages)
Negligent (adj.) – Guilty of or characterized by of duty (pp. 359)
Posturing (n.) – One'or policy as perceived by the public, other nations; a mental or spiritual attitude (pp. 346)


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