Marc Antony Conte is a super-smart criminal lawyer who defends the innocent and guilty with equal passion: he believes in justice for all, including his Mafia clients as well as the alcoholic socialite who has been framed for murder. Conte's beat is the Criminal Courts building in lower Manhattan. His skirts are lily-clean, he never even considers accepting bribes, and he conducts himself with a prissy but powerful knowledgeability that sets his clients' rights firmly before the judge. Bit by bit, his clients' cases get better and better. Ianuzzi works up a big picture of Manhattan's courts, its politically appointed judges, riots in the Tombs, the obtuseness of the mayor and city hall, while sketching in the little fish -- the homo hustler and busted cop -- and yet he keeps a nerve of melodrama bared throughout. News events and personalities are lightly disguised and woven in rather freely. The style's as banal as the ""system"" he exposes and Ianuzzi's strongest on Conte's legal maneuvering -- somehow he works up sympathy for an otherwise hard-nosed moralist.