Washington D.C. had never seen anything quite like it: in January, 1919, three foreign diplomats, with no known enemies, assassinated in the city’s Kalorama neighborhood. Without any leads or clear motive, the police were baffled until they zeroed in on a suspect, Ziang Sung Wan, a Chinese student living in New York. He was held incommunicado without formal arrest for more than a week until he was browbeaten into a confession.
In The Third Degree: The Triple Murder that Shook Washington and Changed American Criminal Justice, part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part landmark legal case, author Scott D. Seligman tells the forgotten story of a young man’s abuse by the police and his arduous, seven-year journey through the legal system that drew in Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John W. Davis and even J. Edgar Hoover. It culminated in a landmark Supreme Court ruling written by Justice Louis Brandeis that set the stage for Miranda v. Arizona many years later. The National Committee partnered with the Museum of Chinese in America for the launch of Mr. Seligman’s new book on May 17, 2018, in New York City.