THE DEFENSE IS READY by Leslie Abramson

THE DEFENSE IS READY

Life in the Trenches of Criminal Law

KIRKUS REVIEW

 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)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81403-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996




MORE BY RICHARD FLASTE

NonfictionWHY WE DO WHAT WE DO by Edward L. Deci
by Edward L. Deci
NonfictionJANE BRODY'S GOOD SEAFOOD BOOK by Jane Brody
by Jane Brody
NonfictionPIERRE FRANEY'S COOKING IN FRANCE by Pierre Franey
by Pierre Franey