Junkin, Tim 1951–

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Junkin, Tim 1951–

PERSONAL: Born 1951. Education: University of Maryland (graduated with honors); Georgetown University Law School, J.D., 1977.

ADDRESSES: Office—Moffett & Junkin, Chartered, 800 S. Frederick Ave., Ste. 203, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.

CAREER: Writer, novelist, educator, and attorney. Asbill, Junkin, Moffitt & Bass (law firm), Washington, DC, founding partner; Moffett & Junkin, Chartered (law firm), partner and practicing attorney. Worked as a public defender in the Washington, DC, area. Instructor at Georgetown University, Harvard University, and American University. Worked as a waterman (fisherman) on the Chesapeake Bay.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best Author Award, Baltimore City Paper, 2004; Adjunct Professor of the Year Award, American University.


The Waterman: A Novel of the Chesapeake Bay, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1999.

Good Counsel (novel), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2001.

Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Tim Junkin is a practicing attorney and an author. His first novel, The Waterman: A Novel of the Chesapeake Bay, is set in 1972, the year of Hurricane Agnes, and the year in which Junkin spent the summer living the life of the men he glorifies in his regionally set story. Clay Wakeman, whose father has died in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, leaves college and teams up with Byron, a childhood friend who has returned from Vietnam, to be a crabber on the trawler left to him by his father. The bay has been over-fished and polluted to the point where making a living is nearly impossible. Sports Afield contributor Finn Rascoe stated that beneath the story of the young man is a "lyrical paean" to the bay. Clay considers switching to running guided pleasure cruises for Brigman, a businessman of questionable character, but instead decides to move his crabbing operation to better waters, where he stumbles onto drug runners who use the inland waterways to avoid detection by the government. Clay also breaks up the relationship of two friends and former classmates, Kate and Matty, when he falls in love with Kate. Rex Roberts commented in Insight on the News that Junkin "packs a lot into this novel. He also isn't interested in writing a conventional thriller, undoubtedly the reason he wades so leisurely into his narrative. And he convincingly recreates the lives of blue-collar workers without condescension—no easy task. All things considered, The Waterman succeeds … although, like picking crabs, there's some work to get to the meat. But worth it." Champ Johnson reviewed the novel for Richmond.com, declaring that "recurring themes of innocence and decay, loss and regret, flow in and out like the tides and surround not only the characters in the book but also the Chesapeake Bay." A Publishers Weekly contributor added that Junkin's debut novel "is a commendable effort that charts a belated coming of age in dangerous and tragic circumstances." Booklist reviewer Michele Leber wrote that Junkin "provides a dramatic finish, and his descriptions of the water are almost as good as being there."

In a Washington Lawyer interview, Junkin was asked why there are no lawyers in The Waterman. "I wanted to write about something else," he replied. "I wanted to write about the bay—the power of the land and the water and the very special culture that has grown up from the abundance of the bay. The watermen who work the bay are very colorful. They live very rich lives despite the fact that they are not affluent. That was the world I wanted to write about."

Junkin's second novel, a thriller titled Good Counsel, does feature a lawyer as protagonist. Jack Stanton went from being a Washington, DC, public defender to a wealthy malpractice attorney who was flexible in using the truth until he took the final step and committed fraud. Besides alienating his wife, Stanton becomes a fugitive from justice, and his crime is revealed through flashbacks. He escapes to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he is reported to the police for not having a fishing license. Stanton attempts suicide but is rescued by Susanna Blair, nicknamed Muddy, who works at the general store, and the two share their stories. Muddy has plans to kill a Nicaraguan terrorist who assassinated her father when she was a child. Stanton and Muddy begin a relationship, and in the end, Stanton accepts responsibility for his acts. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that at the end of the novel the affair is unresolved, and added that "the women are decidedly less credibly sketched than Stanton…. Generally, though, storytelling and characterization quality allow Junkin to pull off his intriguing conceit."

Roberts, in Insight on the News, felt that the characters, particularly Stanton, "are deeply flawed … Junkin has come awfully close to writing the portrait of the lawyer as a dumb man. That said, a reviewer could spin the book in the opposite direction: In an era of lies and obfuscation, Good Counsel attempts to make sense of our litigious culture, wherein the cheat with the cleverest lawyers wins, often in open disregard of common sense and common decency. In this regard, Good Counsel is a cracking good read."

Junkin's next work, Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA, is his first nonfiction title and a story with deadly underpinnings. In 1984, Kirk Noble Bloodsworth was falsely accused of the brutal rape, mutilation, and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton in Cambridge, Maryland. An exmarine and lower-income crabber in the Chesapeake Bay, Bloodsworth strongly maintained his innocence. However, a combination of overeagerness, desperation, and simple incompetence in the local law enforcement agencies resulted in his arrest. After a dubious trial, Bloodsworth was convicted on flimsy evidence and inconsistent witness testimony and sentenced to die. A later retrial improved matters little; he was given two life sentences rather than death. Bloodsworth languished in prison for nearly ten years until, by chance, he read about new advances in forensic DNA testing in Joseph Wambaugh's novel, The Blooding. Shattered by his prison experience but still vigorously asserting his innocence, Bloodsworth felt that the new technology would prove his innocence. He contacted attorney Bob Morin, a lawyer who frequently worked with wrongfully convicted death row inmates, and the two began a campaign to have crime-scene evidence tested with the new DNA techniques. Finally, in 1993, Morin found a lab that could do the tests, and the results proved that Bloodsworth was not the murderer. Junkin covers Bloodsworth's harrowing ordeal from beginning to end, with particular attention paid to the police and prosecutors who were so eager to send an innocent man to prison for a crime he didn't commit. The plentiful "mistakes that led to his lethal jeopardy should disturb any fair-minded reader on either side of the capital punishment debate," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In the aftermath, Bloodsworth became a vocal opponent of the death penalty and an advocate for its abolishment. "Even though the outcome is known from the start, Junkin spins an absorbing tale that is partly police procedural, partly courtroom drama, and chock-fun of human interest," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. Booklist reviewer Connie Fletcher called Blood-worth's story "outrage-provoking."



Booklist, July, 1999, Michele Leber, review of The Waterman: A Novel of the Chesapeake Bay, p. 1922; June 1, 2004, Connie Fletcher, review of Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA, p. 1678.

Florida Bar Journal, January, 2002, review of Good Counsel, p. 67.

Insight on the News, October 18, 1999, Rex Roberts, "Culling Fields," p. 27; April 30, 2001, Rex Roberts, review of Good Counsel, p. 27.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1999, review of The Waterman, p. 987; July 1, 2004, review of Bloodsworth, p. 618.

Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Frances Sandiford, review of Bloodsworth, p. 84.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1999, review of The Waterman, p. 71; January 1, 2001, review of Good Counsel, p. 65; August 30, 2004, review of Bloodsworth, p. 44.

Sports Afield, May, 2000, Finn Rascoe, review of The Waterman, p. 40.

Washington Lawyer, September-October, 1999, "Books: A Conversation with Tim Junkin, pp. 48, 50-51.


Baltimore City Paper, http://www.citypaper.com/ (September 22, 2004), "Best Author," review of Bloodsworth; (December 15, 2004), review of Bloodsworth.

Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (November 1, 2006), Stuart Shiffman, review of Good Counsel.

TheMacDonaldCase.com, http://www.themacdonaldcase.com/ (November 1, 2006), biography of Tim Junkin.

Richmond.com, http://www.richmond.com/ (November 1, 2006), Champ Johnson, "Life on the River."

Washingtonian, http://www.washingtonian.com/ (September, 2004), William O'Sullivan, review of Bloodsworth; (November 1, 2006), "Washingtonian Book Club," transcript of online chat with Tim Junkin.