MISTRIAL by Mark Geragos


An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works...and Sometimes Doesn't
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Two high-profile defense lawyers pull back the curtain on the U.S. criminal justice system and find much to criticize.

Geragos and Harris are law partners in Los Angeles who have represented famous clients such as Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Winona Ryder and Chris Brown. They have also represented noncelebrities who became well-known because of the crimes they allegedly committed—e.g., Scott Peterson, Gary Condit and Susan McDougal. The authors use portions of the book to suggest that Peterson and other clients found guilty are probably innocent. These sections occasionally come across as self-serving, although Geragos and Harris offer little-known details that, at the very least, signal reasonable doubt. The heart of the book, however, is an indictment of the criminal justice system in general: how it is skewed in favor of prosecutors, how prosecutors add to their built-in advantage by employing improper tactics, how police routinely lie during trials to remove perceived criminals from the streets regardless of guilt or innocence, how too many judges rule with re-election in mind instead of serving justice, how jurors are predisposed to believe before hearing evidence that any defendant is guilty simply because he or she has been charged with a crime, how inflammatory TV and blog commentators sabotage truth and how even mainstream media organizations fail to provide balanced news coverage. Geragos and Harris offer solutions, some of which have been adopted in specific jurisdictions but most of which are politically unpopular. Perhaps the most surprising suggested reform is to develop a group of professional jurors who would use their accumulated knowledge gained during multiple trials to better evaluate evidence, especially in complex cases.

A no-holds-barred indictment of the system, filled with memorable anecdotes and accessibly written.

Pub Date: April 11th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59240-772-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Gotham Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2013


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