Colorful incidents and anecdotes effectively capture the performance art of trial lawyering.

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THE VANISHING TRIAL

THE ERA OF COURTROOM PERFORMERS AND THE PERILS OF ITS PASSING

An attorney recalls his courtroom experiences and laments the disappearance of criminal trials from the federal justice system.

There is at least one thing that a visitor to a federal courtroom is now very unlikely to see—a jury trial. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of criminal cases decided in the United States federal courts by a jury dwindled from 9.2% of all cases to only 2.1%. For veteran trial lawyer and debut author Katzberg, the “troubling reality” of the “vanishing trial” has implications not only for the criminal justice system, but also for American democracy. If the average citizen is no longer able to serve as a juror and “the effectiveness of the criminal defense function enshrined in the U.S. Constitution is meaningfully diminished, where does that leave the rule of law?” he asks in this provocative, lively combination of memoir and polemic that may have limited appeal to readers outside the legal profession. Katzberg is a well-qualified guide, having tried cases as both an assistant U.S. attorney in New York and a defense lawyer. The memoir portion of his book is laced with vivid episodes and vignettes from the “world we are slowly but surely losing.” “When done at the highest levels, trial work is performance art in the purest sense of the term,” he writes. He recalls such “old school” practitioners as the lawyer Jerry Lewis (“not the legendary comedian”), who “fearlessly used his distinct personality to dominate the courtroom” and would start cross-examinations by asking in a Brooklyn accent: “Are you a truteful poyson?” Katzberg points to two culprits in the demise of the jury trial—federal sentencing guidelines that have caused a steep decline in the number of defendants willing to risk a trial and technological advances that have tipped the evidentiary scales even more toward prosecutors. The author doesn’t address the substantial costs to taxpayers of jury trials—or whether America should follow the lead of countries like Switzerland and replace juries with judicial panels. But it’s hard to quarrel with his warning that “like the loss of the oceans’ coral reefs, the ongoing disappearance of federal criminal trials signals an increasing imbalance in our nation’s criminal justice system that must not be ignored.”

Colorful incidents and anecdotes effectively capture the performance art of trial lawyering.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-64543-218-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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