A searing and entertaining manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys.
From the rise of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle to the television ratings bonanza of the O.J. Simpson trial, a perfect storm of media coverage has given the public an unprecedented look inside the courtroom, kicking off popular courtroom shows and TV legal commentary that further illuminate how the criminal justice system operates. Or has it?
In Mistrial, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris debunk the myths of judges as Solomon-like figures, jurors as impartial arbiters of the truth, and prosecutors as super-ethical heroes.
Mistrial draws the curtain on the court’s ugly realities—from stealth jurors who secretly swing for a conviction, to cops who regularly lie on the witness stand, to defense attorneys terrified of going to trial. Ultimately, the authors question whether a justice system model drawn up two centuries ago before blogs and television is still viable today.
In the aftermath of recent high-profile cases, the flaws in America’s justice system are more glaring than ever. Geragos and Harris are legal experts and prominent criminal defense attorneys who have worked on everything from celebrity media-circuses—having represented clients like Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson, Chris Brown, Susan MacDougal, and Gary Condit—to equally compelling cases defending individuals desperate to avoid the spotlight.
Shining unprecedented light on what really goes on in the courtroom, Mistrial is an enjoyable, fun look at a system that rarely lets you see behind the scenes.
Despite their impressive credentials as two of America's leading defense lawyers with a long list of celebrity clients (Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, Gary Condit), Geragos and Harris don't offer any particularly new insights on the state of criminal justice in the US today. Many of their observations could have been made, and have been, over the last several decades, undercutting their contention that things have radically changed in recent years. For example, they write: "If you're a trial lawyer, dealing with the media is now part of your job, and that is not going away anytime soon," a sentiment that could easily have appeared in a similarly-themed book from the 1980s or the 1920s. The subtitle is misleading, suggesting a proportionality the text doesn't bear out, as more often than not, their war stories are about when the system doesn't work, due to, for example, overzealous prosecutors, elected judges eager to stay on the bench, and shrewish media personalities who slant the truth shamelessly. There are thoughtful suggestions for reform, including involving judges more actively in plea-bargaining, and having professional juries, but these receive less attention than they warrant.
As real as it gets
Very inspirational read. Makes me look forward to the next jury duty summons instead of looking for ways to get out of it! The reason I rated 4 stars instead of 5 is due to the repetitiveness of some of the content. Towards the end of the book the authors give 10 suggestions how they feel we could improve the criminal justice system in America, I without a doubt 100% agree to all 10. Appointing judges instead of electing them is genius and really a no-brainer.
Free Scotty P
Amazing book, great job by Mike Dawson on the audio. Totally proves Scott Peterson got an unfair trial! #LetHimOut
Easy read, clear, very critical and insightful. Multi-perspective on our justice system. Loved the book.