Tim O’Brien: He Covered the Supreme Court and Wrote a Book on Its Notable Capital Cases

From a Washington Post obit by Bart Barnes headlined “Tim O’Brien, ABC News journalist who covered Supreme Court, dies at 77”:

Tim O’Brien, a broadcast journalist and lawyer who covered the Supreme Court for ABC-TV for 22 years and co-wrote a book on its notable capital cases, died Nov. 30 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

He had been riding a bicycle and waiting on a sidewalk for a traffic light to change when he was struck by a truck that had veered off the road after an accident. . . .

Early in his career, Mr. O’Brien was weekend anchor and a general assignment reporter for Washington’s WTOP-TV from 1969 to 1972. He was then a television anchor in New Orleans until 1977, when he returned to Washington and began covering the high court for ABC.

After retiring from the network in 2000, he was a CNN journalist and participated in the coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Later he was a regular contributor to a religion and ethics program on PBS.

Timothy Andrew O’Brien was born in New York City. . . . He graduated from Michigan State University in 1965 and received a law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans in 1976.

With longtime ABC News colleague Martin Clancy, Mr. O’Brien was author in 2013 of “Murder at the Supreme Court: Lethal Crimes and Landmark Cases,” a book that examined the court’s handling of death penalty cases, including the details of the crimes that led to the death penalty. As part of their research, they visited execution chambers and sat in electric chairs (with the electricity turned off). . . .

Mr. O’Brien was said by colleagues to have been a fastidious dresser and smooth talker. . . .During his years as a Supreme Court reporter, Mr. O’Brien was often detached to help cover other major news events, including the trial of President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin, John W. Hinckley Jr., and congressional hearings into Iran-contra scandal. . . .

In retirement, Mr. O’Brien was an enthusiastic bicyclist. He led week-long biking tours, with overnight stays covering routes that took him through New England.

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