The DEFENSE IS READY: LIFE IN THE TRENCHES OF CRIMINAL LAW CASSETTE

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9780671576189: The DEFENSE IS READY: LIFE IN THE TRENCHES OF CRIMINAL LAW CASSETTE

Brilliant and outspoken defense attorney Leslie Abramson presents a stunning firsthand account of the criminal justice system, in this "compelling and disturbing memoir" ("Los Angeles Times"). of photos.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Erik Menendez's defense attorney proves why she's one of the best in the business. For 20 years predating her controversial representation of the younger Menendez brother, Abramson worked on behalf of accused baby-killers, bank robbers, and hit men, both in private practice and for the public defender's office in L.A. More than a collection of war stories, this book shows how the attitudes and tactics evident in the Menendez defense informed Abramson's work from the beginning. Her willingness to withhold judgment, to become immersed in the life of her client, and to argue like hell--not necessarily for exoneration but for a ``fair verdict''--are trademark Abramson strengths. Writing (with the aid of New York Times editor Flaste) in the frank, street-smart style familiar to those who watched her TV commentary during the Simpson trial, Abramson shows how she's been staring down bullies since her turbulent childhood in Queens, NY. Seven years as a public defender exposed her to an ``astonishing number . . . of remarkably stupid, totally crazy or deplorably lazy'' judges whom she charmed and dominated (``No one had to tell me how to take over a courtroom''). In 1981, four years into her private practice, she represented one of the killers in the Bob's Big Boy massacre, that year's ``crime of the century.'' Despite her ferocious defense, she lost the case--``all the way to the death penalty.'' But from then on she was on the shortlist for high-profile capital cases. Abramson clearly relishes describing her courtroom tactics and behind-the-scenes maneuvers, so it is disappointing that she confines her commentary on the Menendez trial to a summary of the facts of that case, a few choice words for Judge Stanley Weisberg, and a plea to ``pull the plug'' on cameras in the courtroom. Despite the surprisingly short shrift given to the Menendez trial, a terrific introduction to criminal defense by a master practitioner. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 150,000) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Crafty counselor that she is, Abramson mentions in the first sentence of this outspoken, self-promoting memoir her greatest claim to fame: she was a defense attorney for one of the Menendez brothers. The shadow of that case stretches over Abramson's entire narrative, even over her childhood memories of growing up Jewish in 1950s Queens, N.Y.: "I can see now how children come to love their mothers automatically. It must take an almost unimaginable degree of pain to ever make a child not love a mother." The book opens with a case Abramson handled between the two Menendez trials. A bouncer emptied 15 rounds into three men, killing two; with Abramson's help, he walked. With this case, Abramson introduces the idea of preemptive self-defense, offering legal insights that are sharp and knowing. When she finally gets to the Menendez case, however, Abramson fails to address adequately several key questions: Why didn't the boys just leave? Why did Lyle finish off his mother with that second gruesome shotgun blast? Why was Abramson pulled from Lyle's defense for the second trial? A conversational style and colorful case histories provide some balance to Abramson's manipulative account of the trial-but not enough, particularly given the accompanying ax-grinding and score-settling. Menendez buffs will want to buy this, but most armchair lawyers will find more edifying fare in the books of Gerry Spence or, looking backward, of Louis Nizer. Photos. 150,000 first printing.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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