FOR THE DEFENSE by F. Lee & John Greenya Bailey


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The defense may never rest, but every so often it treats itself to a volume of self-congratulatory reminiscence. If we are to believe Bailey, he could use the money after running the gauntlet himself as one of the defendants in the federal government's prosecution of Glenn Turner's multilevel Koscot franchises. More than a quarter of the book is devoted to this entanglement; courtroom buffs will hang on every ""Excuse me, your Honor,"" but other readers will get tired of being harangued like a particularly dumb jury about blameless defendants harassed by government conspiracies with the connivance of a biased judge. Not only is it impossible to sort out the legal and political issues involved in the Turner fracas but the trials of Socrates, John Peter Zenger, and the Harrisburg Seven rolled into one would get pretty monotonous if recounted in this and-then-I-told-the-judge vein. Much more plausible is Bailey's long-awaited story of the Medina court-martial. Here some real issues come into view among the procedural maneuvers and stray gibes at Mary McCarthy. Expect no broad ethical questions, but Bailey does point out the paradoxes implicit in the Army's several contradictory roles in this trial (after a few pages of enthusiastic praise for military justice). One can't reliably form an opinion about Medina from Bailey's pleading, hut this is certainly the best-written, most finished section of the book. A handful of shorter cases fare less well--they sound hasty and incomplete. A prime example of the curiously shallow perspective that can accompany prodigious expertise in a subject. Expecting a legal overview from this walking attache case would be like expecting an overview of zoology from a butcher.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1975
Publisher: Atheneum