Books by Lawrence Taylor

THE D.A. by Lawrence Taylor
Released: March 1, 1996

Taylor (To Honor and Obey, 1992, etc.) chronicles one fascinating year (mid-1991 through mid-1992) behind the scenes with a deputy DA at the Los Angeles district attorney's office, ``the largest prosecuting agency in the world.'' Before there was O.J., there were the Menendez brothers, the Charles Keating savings and loan trial, the Rodney King trial, and the ensuing Reginald Denny case. With those headline grabbers in the background, Taylor tags along with Larry Longo, 52, a senior deputy district attorney, to learn what the job is like for ``a foot soldier in the front trenches'' and out of the spotlight. A ``gruff and scarred veteran of over twenty years of trial warfare,'' Longo ``had not given up an acquittal in eighteen years.'' His cases, while important and sensitive locally, do not get CNN coverage: the prosecution of a respected LA attorney for bilking a client; a case involving a Crips gang member accused of torturing one of his street pushers and feeding him to his pit bulls; the kidnapping and rape of a woman whose car had broken down. Longo's trickiest case found him outmaneuvered by a slick, politically powerful defense attorney named Mike Yamaki, whose client, a prominent leader in the Japanese-American community, was charged with shooting his best friend to death when he found him in the arms of his wife. Among other complexities, the case involved the controversial drug Halcion. The man was convicted, but Yamaki made a successful motion for a new trial by charging that Longo had committed prosecutorial misconduct by making a comment to the jury about the defendant's use of the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying. With glimpses of Judge Lance Ito and Marcia Clark and looks back at Vincent Bugliosi and others well known in the LA legal arena, Taylor does a masterful, straightfoward job of showing the day-to-day workings—and failings—of the judicial system. (photos, not seen) Read full book review >
TO HONOR AND OBEY by Lawrence Taylor
Released: March 19, 1992

An engrossing but frustrating legal procedural by Taylor (A Trial of Generals, 1981; Trail of the Fox, 1980) that traces attorney Michael Dowd's defense of LuAnn Fratt when the New York socialite was tried for the murder of her estranged husband. Fratt was an enigmatic figure, her life seemingly a shallow round of visits to benefit balls and beauty salons. In a call to 911, and during later police interrogations, Fratt freely admitted that at about 2:30 in the morning of November 2, 1988, she left her million-dollar East Side co-op, an eight-inch kitchen knife in her Vuitton bag, walked a block or two to the studio apartment occupied by Charles Kennedy Poe Fratt since the marital breakup, and stabbed the wealthy executive to death. Afterward, Fratt appeared preternaturally calm, evincing no tears, no excitement, no hysterics. During the course of pretrial conversations, however, she confided to Dowd that her husband had raped her once in the months preceding his death and again on the night of the murder. The lawyer decided to base his case on self-defense and to explain Fratt's impassivity as a manifestation of ``rape trauma syndrome.'' Psychiatric experts were called to testify, though the presiding judge rigorously limited their testimony. As an array of prosecution witnesses pointed out discrepancies in the socialite's story, things did not look promising for Fratt or Dowd. The jury, however, decided in the defendant's favor. And it is in detailing this final phase of the trial that Taylor nearly destroys the impact of his narrative: He fails to provide any indication of just what elements in Dowd's strategy prompted the jury's decision. This gap in continuity leaves the reader perplexed and uncertain as to whether or not Dowd's unconventional defense may have been mainly a gimmick. Overall, though, involving and provocative. (Eight pages of b&w photos—not seen.) Read full book review >