MELVIN BELLI: My Life on Trial by Melvin & Robert Kaiser Belli
Kirkus Star

MELVIN BELLI: My Life on Trial

Email this review


Belli, the most flamboyant trial lawyer at loose in the States, lives and drinks hard and fast, dresses like a sunset, was given lessons in wenching by Errol Flynn--but is a model of gray-suited decorum in the courtroom (as he tells it). Also known as ""the King of Torts"" (personal injury cases), he made his mark by introducing demonstrative evidence as a commonplace in his cases (a client whose breasts were ruined by a plastic surgeon strips for the jury in the judge's chambers) and by upping the payments by insurance companies to what he calls ""adequate awards"": in pre-Belli days a company might pay up to $10,000 for a lost leg; today the award could hit a quarter of a million or more. He has defended some famous folks, but lost what may be his most spectacular case--Jack Ruby's defense for shooting Lee Harvey Oswald (during the Dallas trial the judge read comic books); he has successfully fought disbarment, been in the movies, and written several classic legal volumes (aided mightily by dexy and gin). Colorful storytelling in bold outlines.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1976
Publisher: Morrow