The Orchid Murder

The Orchid Murder Untangling a Web of Unsolved Murders and Legal Malpractice by Christine Hunt

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May 1973, Hennepin Avenue florist Bob Nachtsheim was murdered by shotgun blast. The assailant left behind an overturned flat of orchids and a spreading pool of blood. Twin Cities media dubbed it The Orchid Murder, but the crime was never solved.

Years later, Norm Wartnick, Nachtsheim’s former employer, found himself sued by the victim’s widow. His attorney made egregious errors in Norm’s defense, and in 1986 Norm heard a jury declare him responsible for the wrongful death of Nachtsheim. The three-million-dollar civil judgment against the hard-working family man forced him to sell his family business and branded him a murderer.

Jerry Snider and Joe Friedberg, two of Minnesota’s top trial attorneys, were incensed by Norm’s plight. Knowing they would battle enormous peer pressure and even greater odds, Snider and Friedberg placed their careers on the line in a six-year struggle against a judicial system determined to justify an attorney’s betrayal of his client.

The Orchid Murder, for the first time, tells of Snider and Friedberg’s determination to resolve a life-destroying judgment against an innocent man, and how one family’s belief in each other and in the truth preserved hope during desperate times.

My thoughts…

When I started reading this book I didn’t realize that it was a true story.  The style of writing threw me off and it wasn’t until I checked the genre [non-fiction] that it began to make sense.  While the author did their job with the extensive research that would have been required to write this book, I believe it could have been done better without all of the back and forth long, drawn-out court scenes, it was just too much.  That being said, I also believe this would be a great candidate for, at minimum, a made-for-TV-movie to really get the point across.  It is sad to think that this could/and does happen in the judicial system even today and lucky for Norm Wartnick there were a couple of attorneys that were able to finally bring this case to the true justice it deserved.  Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book.

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