Fifth Estater

Doing 'Justice' to Grace

Making right judgments remains a crusade for TV’s dogged prosecutor 11/15/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Nancy Grace

Title:
Host of HLN’s Nancy Grace and CBS Television Distribution’s Swift Justice With Nancy Grace.

Education:
B.A., Mercer University, 1981; J.D., Mercer, 1984; LL.M., N.Y.U., 2000

Employment:
Special prosecutor, Atlanta- Fulton County D.A.’s office, 1987-97
Host, Cochran & Grace, 1997- 98; Closing Arguments, 1998-2007; Nancy Grace Investigates, 2004-07
Host of HLN’s Nancy Grace since 2005; Swift Justice since fall 2010

Personal:
b. Oct. 23, 1959; Husband, David Linch; Children: twins John David and Lucy Elizabeth, 3.

Nothing in Nancy Grace’s life has gone according to
plan, but each time the plan has changed, she’s made
the best of it. It’s well known that Grace decided to become a lawyer at 19, after her fiancé,
Keith, was murdered. She had been
studying to be an English professor, but
after Keith’s death, she switched gears.

“After having been a crime victim,
I feel that it’s my duty to help other
crime victims if I have a chance,” she
says. “After 30 years, I still feel the
very same way about Keith’s murder.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think
about Keith and how my life would be
different had he lived.”

Grace earned a JD from Mercer University
and a master’s of law from NYU.
She was hired as a special prosecutor
for the Fulton County district attorney
in Atlanta, where she went after serious
offenders including murderers, rapists
and child molesters. The petite blond
gained a reputation for never losing
a case, and she also gained the attention
of Art Harris, who at the time was
producing pieces for a Sunday-night
magazine program on CNN.

“Nancy was a prosecutor with my
sister, who worked in family court,”
says Harris, who now seeks out legal
experts for Grace’s new syndicated program,
Swift Justice With Nancy Grace. “[My sister] told me about this take-noprisoners
prosecutor who had the exterior
of an army tank but the heart of a
dove.” Harris profiled Grace on CNN,
and she “really jumped off the screen.
I had a hunch she had a future there.”

CNN kept bringing Grace back to
comment on cases. It was during one
of those occasional appearances that
she caught the eye of Court TV founder
Steven Brill, which ultimately led
her to parry with O.J. Simpson lawyer
Johnnie Cochran on the network’s
Cochran & Grace.

The series was short-lived, but
Grace’s television career took off. On
Court TV, she hosted Closing Arguments
from 1998-2007 and Nancy Grace Investigates
from 2004-07. Throughout,
she was still frequently popping up on
CNN, and in 2005, the network brass
launched her eponymous primetime
show on Headline News.

“Nancy is just breaking it down.
She’s being honest, and she always
speaks from the heart,” says Dean
Sicoli, executive producer of HLN’s
Nancy Grace.

“I don’t think I’m good at TV, or natural at it,” counters Grace. “I think
it’s the stories we cover and the people
I work with. There are literally thousands
of lawyers out there who are
smarter, more articulate, more beautiful
and, God knows, thinner than I
am. It’s just been serendipity.”

Whatever the reason, Grace’s straightforward
style brought her dedicated
fans and helped make Swift Justice work.

“She’s got an edge, but there’s also
something about the way she can deliver
the blow that is different,” says
John Nogawski, president of CBS Television
Distribution. “Then there’s this
mother in her. She’s there to embrace,
protect and defend. Those qualities are
invaluable for Swift Justice.”

John Terenzio, Swift Justice creator
and executive producer, says that while
viewers get to see a lot more sides of the
prosecutor on the new show, the side
they don’t see enough of is the hilarious
one. “She’s so funny that if this TV
thing didn’t work out, she could go out
on the stand-up circuit,” Terenzio says.

Yet another side comes courtesy of
Grace’s twins, John David and Lucy
Elizabeth, who arrived Nov. 4, 2007,
when Grace had just turned 48.

“I never thought after Keith was
murdered that I would find love again,
and I never thought I would have a
family,” she says. “I always wanted
my own children and my own family.
Thirty years passed before I finally allowed
myself to find happiness [with
husband David Linch]. It was just a
miracle that I got pregnant at 47, and
it has changed my life. Now I know
what happiness really is. I didn’t have
any idea before.”

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com and follow her
on Twitter: @PaigeA

Nancy Grace

Title:
Host of HLN’s Nancy Grace and CBS Television Distribution’s Swift Justice With Nancy Grace.

Education:
B.A., Mercer University, 1981; J.D., Mercer, 1984; LL.M., N.Y.U., 2000

Employment:
Special prosecutor, Atlanta- Fulton County D.A.’s office, 1987-97
Host, Cochran & Grace, 1997- 98; Closing Arguments, 1998-2007; Nancy Grace Investigates, 2004-07
Host of HLN’s Nancy Grace since 2005; Swift Justice since fall 2010

Personal:
b. Oct. 23, 1959; Husband, David Linch; Children: twins John David and Lucy Elizabeth, 3.

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