|Birth Date||October 23, 1959|
|Known For||HLN host & prosecutor|
|Highest Score||24 (Foxtrot & Tango)|
|Lowest Score||16 (Cha-Cha-Cha)|
Nancy Grace was born in Macon, Georgia, the youngest of three children, to factory worker Elizabeth Grace and Mac Grace, a freight agent for Southern Railway. Her older siblings are brother Mac Jr. and sister Ginny. The Graces are longtime members of Macon's Liberty United Methodist Church, where Elizabeth plays the organ and Mac Sr. was once a Sunday School teacher.
Grace graduated from Macon's Windsor Academy in 1977. She attended Valdosta State University, and later received a B.A. from Mercer University. As a student, Grace was a fan of Shakespearean literature, and intended to become an English professor after graduating from college. But after the murder of her fiancé Keith Griffin when she was 19, Grace decided to enroll in law school and went on to become a felony prosecutor and a supporter of victims' rights.
Grace received her Juris Doctor from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer, where she was a member of the law review. She went on to earn a Master of Laws in constitutional and criminal law from New York University. She has written articles and opinion pieces for legal periodicals, including the American Bar Association Journal. She worked as a clerk for a federal court judge and practiced antitrust and consumer protection law with the Federal Trade Commission. She taught litigation at the Georgia State University College of Law and business law at GSU's School of Business. As of 2006, she is part of Mercer University's board of trustees and adopted a section of the street surrounding the law school.
Career as prosecutorEdit
Grace worked for nearly a decade in the Atlanta-Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney's office as Special Prosecutor. Her work focused on felony cases involving serial murder, serial rape, serial child molestation, and serial arson. Grace left the prosecutors' office after the District Attorney she had been working under decided not to run for reelection.
While a prosecutor, Grace was reprimanded by the Supreme Court of Georgia for withholding evidence and for making improper statements in a 1997 arson and murder case. The court overturned the conviction in that case and found that Grace's behavior "demonstrated her disregard of the notions of due process and fairness and was inexcusable." As well, a 2005 federal appeals opinion by Judge William H. Pryor, Jr. found that Grace "played fast and loose" with core ethical rules in a 1990 triple murder case, including the withholding of evidence and allowing a police detective to testify falsely under oath. The 1990 murder conviction was upheld despite Grace's prosecutorial misconduct.
Career as broadcasterEdit
After leaving the Fulton County prosecutors' office, Grace was approached by and accepted an offer from Court TV founder Steven Brill to do a legal commentary show alongside Johnnie Cochran. When Cochran left the show, Grace was moved to a solo trial coverage show on Court TV.
In 2005, she began hosting a regular primetime legal analysis show called Nancy Grace on CNN Headline News (now HLN) in addition to her Court TV show. On May 9, 2007, Grace announced that she would be leaving Court TV to focus more on her CNN Headline News Program and charity work. She did her last show on Court TV on June 19, 2007.
Grace has a distinctive interviewing style mixing vocal questions with multimedia stats displays. The Foundation of American Women in Radio & Television has presented Nancy Grace with two Gracie Awards for her Court TV show.
Grace had been covering the Casey Anthony story for years. After the controversial verdict finding Casey Anthony not guilty, her show on HLN had its highest ratings ever in the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. hour slots on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. Grace also hosted Swift Justice with Nancy Grace premiering September 13, 2010, and running until May 2011. Grace left the show due to productions moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles. In September 2011, Judge Jackie Glass, who is known for presiding over the O. J. Simpson robbery case, took over Grace's place. The show continued for one more season and ceased production in 2012.
In a 2011 New York Times article, David Carr wrote, "Since her show began in 2005, the presumption of innocence has found a willful enemy in the former prosecutor turned broadcast judge-and-jury". He criticized her handling of the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the Duke lacrosse case, the Melinda Duckett interview and suicide and the Caylee Anthony case. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Carr that Grace, as an attorney and reporter, "has managed to demean both professions with her hype, rabid persona, and sensational analysis. Some part of the public takes her seriously, and her show erodes the respect for basic rights."
In January 2014, she again ignited controversy for her wildly negative depiction of recreational marijuana users. Grace made statements such as users were "fat and lazy" and that anyone who disagreed with her was "lethargic, sitting on the sofa, eating chips" to CNN's news correspondent Brooke Baldwin during a segment covering legalization in Colorado on January 6, 2014.
On October 11, 2016, The Jim Norton and Sam Roberts Show had Grace as a guest, on which they accused her of capitalizing on other's tragedy, for her personal gain. They also addressed her handling of The Ultimate Warrior's death, and the Duke lacrosse case. Norton said during the interview that he has disliked her for some time, and she has previously blocked him on Twitter. Grace, in defending herself, stated that she was a crime victim herself, and stating that they didn't ask her one decent question. The next day on The View, Grace addressed the interview, calling Norton and Roberts Beavis and Butt-head Grace said she had to hold back tears during the interview and stated, "I don’t really know what it was, but it was hell for me."
Grace's first work of fiction, The Eleventh Victim, also published by Hyperion, was released on August 11, 2009. The mystery thriller follows a young psychology student, Hailey Dean, whose fiancé is murdered just weeks before their wedding. She goes on to prosecute violent crime and is forced to reckon with what she left behind. Publishers Weekly described it as "less than compelling." A second novel, Death on the D-List, was published on August 10, 2010.
Grace has also helped staff a hotline at an Atlanta battered women's center for 10 years.
Marriage and motherhoodEdit
In April 2007, Grace married David Linch, an Atlanta investment banker, in a small private ceremony. The two had met while she was studying at Mercer University in the 1970s. Grace, who had given up on marriage after the death of her fiancé, said, "We've been in touch all these years, and a lot of time, we were separated by geography and time. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to get married. I told my family only two days before the wedding."
On June 26, 2007, an emotional Grace announced on her HLN talk show that her life had "taken a U-turn" in that she was pregnant and expecting twins due in January 2008. Lucy Elizabeth and John David were born in November 2007.
Allegations regarding fiancé's murderEdit
In March 2006, an article in the New York Observer suggested that in her book Objection!, Grace had embellished the story of her college fiancé's 1979 murder and the ensuing trial to make it better support her image. Grace has described the tragedy as the impetus for her career as a prosecutor and victims' rights advocate, and has often publicly referred to the incident. The Observer researched the murder and found several apparent contradictions between the events and Grace's subsequent statements, including the following:
- Her fiancé, Keith Griffin, was not shot at random by a stranger, but by a former coworker, Tommy McCoy.
- McCoy did not have a prior criminal record
- Rather than denying the crime, McCoy confessed on the night of the murder.
- The jury deliberated for a few hours, not days.
- There was no ongoing string of appeals (McCoy's family did not want any). McCoy has only once filed a habeas petition, which was rejected.
Grace told the Observer she had not looked into the case in many years and "tried not to think about it." She said she made her previous statements about the case "with the knowledge I had."
In response to Keith Olbermann's claims in a March 2007 Rolling Stone interview in which he was quoted as saying, "Anybody who would embellish the story of their own fiancé's murder should spend that hour a day not on television but in a psychiatrist's chair," Grace stated, "I did not put myself through law school and fight for all those years for victims of crime to waste one minute of my time, my energy, and my education in a war of words with Keith Olbermann, whom I've never met nor had any disagreement. I feel we have X amount of time on Earth, and that when we give in to our detractors or spend needless time on silly fights, I think that's abusing the chance we have to do something good."
Griffin's murderer, Tommy McCoy, was released on parole from the Georgia Department of Corrections on December 5, 2006.