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Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works...and Sometimes Doesn't

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A searing manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys. The American legal system changed dramatically in 1994, when the O. J. Simpson trial became a television-ratings bonanza. Now it’s all crime, all the time, on TV, from tabloid news to police procedurals on every network. Americans know more about the A searing manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys. The American legal system changed dramatically in 1994, when the O. J. Simpson trial became a television-ratings bonanza. Now it’s all crime, all the time, on TV, from tabloid news to police procedurals on every network. Americans know more about the criminal justice system than ever before. Or do they? In Mistrial, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris argue precisely the opposite: In pursuit of sensationalism, the media shows the public only a small, distorted sample of what really happens in our courtrooms. So, ironically, the more the public thinks it knows, the less informed it really is. Mistrial debunks the myth of impartial American justice and draws the curtain on its ugly realities—from stealth jurors who secretly swing for a conviction to cops who regularly lie on the witness stand  to defense attorneys terrified  of going to trial. Ultimately, the authors question whether a justice system  model drawn up two centuries before blogs, television, and O. J. Simpson is still viable today. In the aftermath of the Casey Anthony trial, the flaws in America’s justice system are more glaring than ever. Geragos and Harris are legal experts and prominent criminal defense attorneys who have  worked  on everything from  celebrity media-circuses to equally  compelling cases defending individuals desperate to avoid  the spotlight, and Mistrial’s behind-the-scenes peek at their most fascinating cases will enthrall legal eagles and armchair litigators alike—as it blows the lid on what  really happens in a courtroom.


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A searing manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys. The American legal system changed dramatically in 1994, when the O. J. Simpson trial became a television-ratings bonanza. Now it’s all crime, all the time, on TV, from tabloid news to police procedurals on every network. Americans know more about the A searing manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys. The American legal system changed dramatically in 1994, when the O. J. Simpson trial became a television-ratings bonanza. Now it’s all crime, all the time, on TV, from tabloid news to police procedurals on every network. Americans know more about the criminal justice system than ever before. Or do they? In Mistrial, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris argue precisely the opposite: In pursuit of sensationalism, the media shows the public only a small, distorted sample of what really happens in our courtrooms. So, ironically, the more the public thinks it knows, the less informed it really is. Mistrial debunks the myth of impartial American justice and draws the curtain on its ugly realities—from stealth jurors who secretly swing for a conviction to cops who regularly lie on the witness stand  to defense attorneys terrified  of going to trial. Ultimately, the authors question whether a justice system  model drawn up two centuries before blogs, television, and O. J. Simpson is still viable today. In the aftermath of the Casey Anthony trial, the flaws in America’s justice system are more glaring than ever. Geragos and Harris are legal experts and prominent criminal defense attorneys who have  worked  on everything from  celebrity media-circuses to equally  compelling cases defending individuals desperate to avoid  the spotlight, and Mistrial’s behind-the-scenes peek at their most fascinating cases will enthrall legal eagles and armchair litigators alike—as it blows the lid on what  really happens in a courtroom.

30 review for Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works...and Sometimes Doesn't

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Mistrial makes a lot of great points about how North America's obsession in recent times with courtroom drama and true crime has warped society's understanding of how law and justice works. I'm inclined to agree, honestly. We romanticize serial killers, juvenile delinquents and sex offenders both with fiction and in real-life, from Hannibal Lecter to the 2014 Slenderman stabbing, and we also get a skewed view of law and courtroom practices through our TV screens and magazine pages. Much like pop Mistrial makes a lot of great points about how North America's obsession in recent times with courtroom drama and true crime has warped society's understanding of how law and justice works. I'm inclined to agree, honestly. We romanticize serial killers, juvenile delinquents and sex offenders both with fiction and in real-life, from Hannibal Lecter to the 2014 Slenderman stabbing, and we also get a skewed view of law and courtroom practices through our TV screens and magazine pages. Much like pop psychology, I guess you could say "pop law" is now a thing. Everybody who's ever watched Law & Order or seen a true crime documentary suddenly thinks they're on par with a police detective, lawyer or FBI profiler. We also have the false notion that law is always about fairness, justice and equality, which it's not, and this book takes a very in-depth look at some of our many misconceptions that are actually hindering a layman's understanding of America's criminal justice system. It's a great book that breaks through the falsehoods generated by pop culture, and it's really detailed but not too weighed down or dry, either.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Mitchell

    The subtitle of this book tells the story: "An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works . . . and Sometimes Doesn't." You will no doubt recognize the authors' names since they have represented several celebrities, including Michael Jackson when he was accused of molesting a boy who stayed overnight at Neverland. Defense attorneys get paid to win people over to their point of view so of course I knew this book would be biased. However, they won me over right from the get-go with their The subtitle of this book tells the story: "An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works . . . and Sometimes Doesn't." You will no doubt recognize the authors' names since they have represented several celebrities, including Michael Jackson when he was accused of molesting a boy who stayed overnight at Neverland. Defense attorneys get paid to win people over to their point of view so of course I knew this book would be biased. However, they won me over right from the get-go with their definition of one thing that's wrong with the justice system at the moment, namely the "Angry Blond White Women." The name comes from a person on HLN who I cannot abide. She used to be a prosecutor, but has since become a broadcaster and nominated herself judge, jury, and God. I'm sure you know who I mean. Some of these people aren't even women, or blond, or even white, but they are universally angry. That the authors won me over doesn't mean I agree with everything they write, but I do see their point of view and that's all they ask really. They are understandably upset at the fact that tough judges and district attorneys are easily re-elected because the public is convinced that only stiffer penalties will solve what they see as a rising crime rate. Actually the crime rate has been falling for years; we just hear more about crime on 24 hour news programs that need to keep us stirred up and tuning in. Meanwhile, the jails and prisons are full to overflowing so that in California at least, they are turning prisoners loose to free up space. Read here about actual cases that prove dependence on eyewitness identification is wrong, wrong, wrong. I learned a lot from this easy reading book. Each author narrates some tales that make you feel like you're one of a bunch of lawyers sitting around telling stories and laughing. There are also some unarguable points about problems with our justice system, many of which exist because the public demands them. Mistrial might make you angry in places, and laugh in others, but I doubt that you will regret reading it. When the subtitle says "the inside look," that's true and these two lawyers have the years of experience to back it up. Recommended reading Source: LibraryThing win

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    When I was growing up I thought I would be a criminal defense attorney and then a Judge. However I changed my mind as I was not sure I wanted to commit myself to years of law school and being able to stand up and defend people that might be guilty. Even though my career goals may have changed, I have still been fascinated by this area from the guilty party to the forensics to the trial. So when I had a chance to read this book, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to get to see the inside look at When I was growing up I thought I would be a criminal defense attorney and then a Judge. However I changed my mind as I was not sure I wanted to commit myself to years of law school and being able to stand up and defend people that might be guilty. Even though my career goals may have changed, I have still been fascinated by this area from the guilty party to the forensics to the trial. So when I had a chance to read this book, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to get to see the inside look at the whole law process and not the one that the news media tries to portray to the public. I have never heard of Mark Geragos or Pat Harris. Yes, I am familiar with the big cases that they were involved with but I have never really paid attention to the attorneys involved in the cases and who they are. This is because while I am interested in criminal defense, I would rather watch true crime shows and read about them then really watch the long drawn out trial proceeding. Yes, I know I said I like the trial but sometimes I do have the attention span of a two year old. I found this book to be just what I thought it would be. It did give me a good insight into what a criminal defense attorney is all about and why they do what they do. They are not the bad guys just their clients may be the bad guys. Also, our system is flawed. I liked the ways that the authors described things and the examples they used. They put their terminology into layman terms so that helped to make for easy reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Ketelsen

    According to the authors, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, they wrote this book to help the general population to understand what works and what doesn't in the criminal justice system. I reject that claim. I think this book is a soapbox for Mark Geragos and Pat Harris to complain about changes in the system that have negatively affected them and also the book serves as a bully pulpit for them to boast about what they've accomplished and who they know. But don't view this as a complaint---Mark According to the authors, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, they wrote this book to help the general population to understand what works and what doesn't in the criminal justice system. I reject that claim. I think this book is a soapbox for Mark Geragos and Pat Harris to complain about changes in the system that have negatively affected them and also the book serves as a bully pulpit for them to boast about what they've accomplished and who they know. But don't view this as a complaint---Mark Geragos and Pat Harris have written a very interesting and entertaining book. It's just not primarily oriented towards an unbiased assessment of the justice system. Given their long careers and often well known clients (Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson, Greg Anderson, Susan MacDougal, and Gary Condit to name a few) the authors have a good supply of anecdotes and wry observations about the justice system that they work in. They describe a system that is leaning more and more towards the prosecution and one that is unduly influenced by politics and the media, commentators like Ann Coulter and Nancy Grace in particular. As you can easily imagine---that's not what defense attorneys like Geragos and Harris want to have happen. This book is a ringing, albeit self serving, indictment of this situation. Mistrial is a very entertaining book and I definitely recommend it. Just don't believe everything you read in it without an independent checking of the facts.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Edita Ghushchyan

    The book is interesting, since it sheds light onto the criminal justice system of the US. The main message of the book, I think, would be to think of people's incentives before evaluating their statements, be it in court or in daily life. Each chapter speaks of the incentives that guide and lead each participant of the criminal justice system.

  6. 4 out of 5

    William

    A look at the problems in the justice system that says not one word about inherent racism? Or mass incarceration? This is a book written by celebrity defense lawyers and it is about what can go wrong in cases where people can afford celebrity defense lawyers, Not about the poor and Black folks who get public defenders and are more than likely to plead out and never even see the insides of a courtroom. You'll have to go to, "The New Jim Crow" or other book to get that side of the story. Here we A look at the problems in the justice system that says not one word about inherent racism? Or mass incarceration? This is a book written by celebrity defense lawyers and it is about what can go wrong in cases where people can afford celebrity defense lawyers, Not about the poor and Black folks who get public defenders and are more than likely to plead out and never even see the insides of a courtroom. You'll have to go to, "The New Jim Crow" or other book to get that side of the story. Here we have the authors expounding on how people like Micheal Jackson, Scott Peterson, Susan MacDougal, and others got railroaded by the media, over zealous prosecutors and the "angry blond white woman i.e. Nancy Grace", talking heads. The authors do point out that no matter that the crime rates have dropped precipitously in the last decades politicians still cry wolf and promise to get tough on crime. So instead of reform we get more of the same and an impossible to sustain prison populations. We give more and more power to prosecutors and a completely blind eye to prosecutorial misconduct. Not misconduct. criminality. For that's what it must be called when knowingly innocent people are jailed and in a case not looked at here put to death. In Texas. The authors do give recommendations for putting some restraints on the almost omnipotent D.A.'s office.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I enjoyed this book, but I think I was expecting more legal analysis than it provided. It was part educational, part memoir or reflection on cases. I enjoyed it for the most part, and I did learn quite a bit. If you're interested in the criminal justice system, especially the defense side, I recommend checking it out.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    How long does the attorney-client privilege extend? Everything I've been taught is that the privilege can bind attorneys from even mentioning they represented a specific client, let alone name drop popular cases and talk about strategies. Maybe the information was all that was encompassed in public knowledge, but I still feel weird about reading the cases. The case descriptions were the weakest part of the book. I ended up skimming or skipping most of them. I did like the points made and have How long does the attorney-client privilege extend? Everything I've been taught is that the privilege can bind attorneys from even mentioning they represented a specific client, let alone name drop popular cases and talk about strategies. Maybe the information was all that was encompassed in public knowledge, but I still feel weird about reading the cases. The case descriptions were the weakest part of the book. I ended up skimming or skipping most of them. I did like the points made and have seen some of them in case studies myself. I wish the bias was reduced a bit to talk about points more. For example, Ann Coulter was talked about and things just went in a weird direction. I had loved the book until the first 20 pages when this popped up out of the blue.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Dreier

    I was intrigued by this book because I was considering it for a book club and I had planned to pair the reading of this book with a tour of the county's courthouse. My 'look inside' provided by Amazon led me to believe that this book offers insight into various points of view when it comes to the criminal justice system with chapter headings that include prosecutors, clients, judges, jurors, etc. The problem was it doesn't. It really just considers the other aspects of the criminal justice I was intrigued by this book because I was considering it for a book club and I had planned to pair the reading of this book with a tour of the county's courthouse. My 'look inside' provided by Amazon led me to believe that this book offers insight into various points of view when it comes to the criminal justice system with chapter headings that include prosecutors, clients, judges, jurors, etc. The problem was it doesn't. It really just considers the other aspects of the criminal justice system through the lens of a criminal defense attorney. So, just know that. The authors are pretty forthcoming in the introduction that they have talked about writing a book about all their stories in the courtroom. That's what this book ended up being a few entertaining stories here, arguments about how the criminal justice system favors the prosecution, and an author who inserts passages about his passion for his heritage and the Armenian genocide. That being said, I did find the book to be entertaining and it did provide some insight into the why some things are done by either the prosecution or the defense in a criminal case.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Since my obsession with the Scott Peterson trial, I have followed Mark Geragos' career and was interested to hear him speak at a local bar function a couple years ago. I picked up a copy of his book then and had him autograph it but never actually got around to reading it until I got sucked into this new Scott Peterson documentary series. I was glad I finally got around to reading it - it was an interesting look at the criminal defense practice from someone really in the trenches but with a Since my obsession with the Scott Peterson trial, I have followed Mark Geragos' career and was interested to hear him speak at a local bar function a couple years ago. I picked up a copy of his book then and had him autograph it but never actually got around to reading it until I got sucked into this new Scott Peterson documentary series. I was glad I finally got around to reading it - it was an interesting look at the criminal defense practice from someone really in the trenches but with a broader perspective too about how media and politics have played into it. Interesting tidbits about some of his better known cases as well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Book

    Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works...and Sometimes Doesn't by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris "Mistrial" is a very entertaining behind-the-scenes look at our criminal judicial system. Prominent defense attorneys Mark Geragos and Pat Harris share their over thirty years of law practice and paint an eye-opening picture of the evolution of our criminal the system over time. This popular criminal justice system book is at times raw, humorous but never boring as the authors Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works...and Sometimes Doesn't by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris "Mistrial" is a very entertaining behind-the-scenes look at our criminal judicial system. Prominent defense attorneys Mark Geragos and Pat Harris share their over thirty years of law practice and paint an eye-opening picture of the evolution of our criminal the system over time. This popular criminal justice system book is at times raw, humorous but never boring as the authors share insights into celebrity cases such as: Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Winona Ryder, Gary Condit and Susan McDougal. This insightful 289-page book includes the following nine chapters: 1. Politics, O.J. Simpson, and the Rise of the Angry Blond White Women, 2. Defense Attorneys - We Sleep Very Well at Night, Thank You Very Much, 3. Clients - Thirty-Nine Floors is a Long Way to Fall, 4. Prosecutors - Being a Prosecutor Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry, 5. Judges - At Least Get It Wrong for Both Sides, 6. Police Officers - to Preserve, Protect, and to Lie, 7. Jurors - Nobody Knows Anything, 8. Media - Shame on You for Believing What We Say, and 9. The Best System in the World??? Positives: 1. A popular criminal justice system book for the masses. Excellent introductory book for the layperson that enjoys high-profile cases. 2. A very interesting topic on how the criminal justice system works. Prominent defense attorneys Geragos and Harris have the expertise, experience and a number of high-profile cases under their belts to entertain the public. 3. The book is loaded with interesting insights into many high-profile cases. 4. The evolution of a criminal judicial system favoring the prosecution. 5. The judicial system is not free of errors...consider the role of the Innocence Project group. 6. The three events that has changed the system for the worse: the politicization of the justice system, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the rise of the angry blond white women. Interesting stuff. 7. A strong defense of the defense. A good explanation of the role of defense attorneys. "The true role of the defense attorney is to fight for the client by any legal means possible." 8. A great job of explaining the different skills needed by prosecutors versus defense attorneys. 9. A lot of interesting observations. "Nothing gets a jury to convict faster than to find out the defendant has been guilty of another crime in the past." 10. The types of clients that that the authors reject: the client who expects to bribe the judge, the client wants the mythical third option, and the client who seeks a guaranteed victory. "Finally, clients sometimes forget certain details - like the truth." 11. Insights on the importance of jury composition. "We decided early on that our best bet for jurors would be highly educated professionals, particularly those who analyze facts for a living, such as lawyers, engineers, and computer analysts." 12. Does a good job of debunking many misconceptions, the "he didn't act right" evidence. 13. The power of the prosecution. The authors took some extra glee in describing the evolving practices of the D.A. including prosecutorial misconduct. 14. The seven basic arguments that D.A.s have relied on in every trial. 15. The three traits that a defense attorney looks for in a judge: fairness, a good temperament, and intelligence. "While intelligence is important it is the sense of fairness that we value most." 16. Exposing police officers. "The most common form of police misconduct is forced confessions." 17. A good job of explaining the jury deliberation process. Exposing stealth jurors. Common jury errors. 18. An excellent chapter on the media's role in judicial system. "And sometimes tabloid reporting goes beyond irresponsibly republishing other people's lies." Nancy Grace, Wendy Murphy...watch out. 19. Is the American judicial system the best in the world? Find out. 20. Suggestions on how to improve the criminal judicial system. Negatives: 1. No notes or sources. 2. This is not a scholarly book on the criminal justice system and it was never intended to be. 3. The authors are not as genuinely forthright as I had hoped. A chapter on their personal biggest blunders would have been welcomed. I understand that they are still practicing and there may even be implications or limitations on what they can say but at least let the reading public know that. 4. An obvious bias against the prosecution. 5. The portrayal of the case involving Scott Peterson left me cold. In summary, this is a very entertaining book. It's more about entertainment than education but along the way the layperson will be exposed to how the judicial system operates. The authors provide some interesting insights into the criminal judicial system from a defense attorney's perspective. A lot of high-profiled cases are highlighted in this book which adds to the guilty pleasure. The book is not a scholarly effort and you will not hear theses authors disclose their own personal shortcomings as it relates to their cases and perhaps understandably so. Nonetheless, this was a "guilty" pleasure. Further suggestions: "How Can You Defend Those People?" by Mickey Sherman, "Defending the Damned: Inside a Dark Corner of the Criminal Justice System" by Kevin Davis, "Criminology For Dummies" by Steven Briggs, "Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves" by John Kroger, and "Law & Disorder:: The Legendary FBI Profiler's Relentless Pursuit of Justice" by John Douglas.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chad King

    If you want to read a couple of lawyers blathering on about the TV personalities they despise and how the judicial system unfairly favors unethical prosecutors, all accompanied with a large serving of ego, then this is the book for you. If you prefer something that addresses our criminal justice system with a more thoughtful approach, or even a book that's reasonably entertaining, you'll want to skip this one.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Boy was I wrong about a lot of things. Enjoyed having my perceptions of the trial system proven wrong. Eyewitness IDs? Often faulty. Confessions? Often false. Cases “tried” in the media? Often wrong. Fascinating and cautionary tales of justice and injustice.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eugene Sun

    Fun gossip. Lacking in nutrition.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kiara

    Enjoyable, quick read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Foxglove

    Biased book, a bit vulgar but excellent read and made me think. These are the best and they have good points, although I'd love to see the other side of the story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I enjoyed comparing notes on the practical side of the practice. The sections where he railed against the media or argued his theory of his cases were too much.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annmarie

    An eye opener.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    I listened to the Audible version of this book earlier this year. The production was well-done, and the material covered really makes me question the criminal justice system's goals and efficiency.

  20. 5 out of 5

    I.

    While I fundamentally agree with much of what was written about the growing abuse of power from prosecutors and the political need for judges to be outwardly "tough on crime", I had a very difficult time reconciling my feelings towards these attorneys who represented Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson and actually argued for their innocence in their book. What factual information I did take away from the book was that everyone IS guaranteed to a fair trial, but the media makes it damn near While I fundamentally agree with much of what was written about the growing abuse of power from prosecutors and the political need for judges to be outwardly "tough on crime", I had a very difficult time reconciling my feelings towards these attorneys who represented Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson and actually argued for their innocence in their book. What factual information I did take away from the book was that everyone IS guaranteed to a fair trial, but the media makes it damn near impossible -- and this doesn't even address the dumpster fire that social media has added to the mix. The book was colloquially written and took on a bit of a paparazzi flair and because of this, was a bit off putting with the humble bragging about celebrity clientele and the tangential rants about crooked cops, power hungry judges, and racist prosecutors. Again, not arguing that this doesn't happen, but the tone of the writing was a bit sensationalized for my taste. The subject of law has always been of one those topics that I found both intriguing and frustrating at the same time. So much emphasis is placed on black and white and for someone who sees various shades of grey, this is one of those subjects that bother me from both the prosecuting attorney and defense attorney's perspective. The system is imperfect and one would be naive to think that money didn't factor in the quality of the defense one receives. Next non-fiction book in my queue is _Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and The Rule of Law_ by Preet Bharara to give a counter balance to the issue. I'm giving this book just 3 stars. If anyone has a better book on the subject of defense law to read, I'm open to suggestions.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Cleaves

    Well written, nicely organized, but the bias was still evident. In addition, I felt uncomfortable with the way in which he violated the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship over and over.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works... and Sometimes Doesn't is written by two leading defense attorneys, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris. Geragos and Harris have a long list of well known people they have represented: Susan McDougal, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, Gary Condit, Mike Tyson, Winona Ryder and Chris Brown, to name a few. Mistrial is an inside look at how the system works, how Geragos and Harris feel about it's flaws and failures based on their years of Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works... and Sometimes Doesn't is written by two leading defense attorneys, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris. Geragos and Harris have a long list of well known people they have represented: Susan McDougal, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, Gary Condit, Mike Tyson, Winona Ryder and Chris Brown, to name a few. Mistrial is an inside look at how the system works, how Geragos and Harris feel about it's flaws and failures based on their years of trial experience, and many anecdotes from their years of experience. In Mistrial Geragos and Harris have organized their book so chapter cover all the major areas of criminal-justice system: defense attorneys, clients, prosecutors, judges, police officers, jurors and journalists. At the end of the book, Geragos and Harris do offer a list of suggestions for reform, based on their years of experience, that could make the system work more smoothly and fairly. What Mistrial offers to a lay person (me) is a glimpse into some well known cases and how the criminal justice system works - or doesn't - based on many factors, including pre-trial publicity and the media hype surrounding a case.They feel the current criminal justice system is biased toward the prosecution - and tactics used by the prosecutors magnify this advantage. Adding to this built in advantage are other problems, such as judges ruling based on their upcoming re-election, problems with media coverage influencing the jury selection, and police lying to improve their case. Some of the observations Geragos and Harris make and conclusions they draw are obvious. Media hype and personalities devoted to just creating that frenzied coverage have been around for a long time. While it's true that they are more prevalent now, they have always been there. For me, since Geragos and Harris are based in Los Angeles, they are privy to much inside information and represent clients that are obviously out of my circle of experience. By their own admission, Mistrial is not a scholarly look at criminal justice reform and Geragos and Harris never claim that it will be. What they wanted to do was give the layman an entertaining look inside the system at the players and some of the problems from the point of view of the defense. Aside from a few extreme rants, Mistrial is interesting, sometimes funny, and very entertaining while making some serious points. Highly recommended - for the inside look Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of the Penguin Group via Netgalley for review purposes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jkhickel

    I quit reading after page 44. As the old saying goes, you don't need to eat the whole apple to know it's rotten. Mark Geragos is a well-known criminal defense attorney, and as a non-practicing attorney myself I'm always interested in books that advertise themselves as a "behind the scenes" examination of the lawyering life. To my continuing disappointment, these books almost invariably turn into long boring tomes about how "all the lawyers who opposed me, and the judges who ruled against me, and I quit reading after page 44. As the old saying goes, you don't need to eat the whole apple to know it's rotten. Mark Geragos is a well-known criminal defense attorney, and as a non-practicing attorney myself I'm always interested in books that advertise themselves as a "behind the scenes" examination of the lawyering life. To my continuing disappointment, these books almost invariably turn into long boring tomes about how "all the lawyers who opposed me, and the judges who ruled against me, and the lawyers on TV who criticized my tactics, are idiots." But seldom do they jump on this track as quickly, and with as little evidence, as Geragos does in this book. (I should probably mention that the book was co-authored by someone I never heard of, whose claim to fame is that he works for Geragos, and whose role in this book seems to be to occasionally provide italicized commentary reinforcing his boss's points. So let's just call this Geragos's book.) In the first chapter, Geragos blasts "angry blond women" who go on TV and provide legal commentary, without bothering to mention that most of the women he's blasting -- including Ann Coulter, Nancy Grace, and Wendy Murphy -- have been critics of Geragos prior to the publication of this book. And his own critiques of these women are surprisingly lame. For example, his criticism of Ann Coulter centers almost entirely around the fact that she was once described as a "Constitutional Lawyer" on the TV screen when she appeared on a television program. ("Did the Constitution pay her a flat fee, or was she on retainer?" Geragos yuks.) Well, aside from the slimness of the reed with which he is beating her: As Geragos must know -- and as even I know from a few very limited TV interviews -- you don't get to dictate what they put on the screen when your face is showing. My name has been misspelled about half the time I've been interviewed. Would Geragos blame me for that? Then his second chapter begins by dispelling such simple-minded "myths" as There Are Defense Attorneys Who Win All Their Cases, and my favorite: the myth that Geragos Will Apologize In This Book for Being a Lawyer. (Spoiler Alert: He doesn't.) I suddenly realize that Geragos not only thinks his opponents are idiots, he thinks his readers are idiots too. And it's at that point that I put the book down and wrote this review. In fairness, maybe the book gets better after page 44. I'll never know.

  24. 5 out of 5

    TAMMY CUEVAS

    Mark Geragos and Pat Harris have been involved with some of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) trials of the past several years. Their clients have included Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson, and Scott Petersen. Mistrial is not only a compilation of anecdotes, but also an attempt to educate the public regarding the problems of the modern legal system. As a "searing manifesto", this book falls short. This is not a scholarly treatise on the criminal law process, but it is entertaining. While I am Mark Geragos and Pat Harris have been involved with some of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) trials of the past several years. Their clients have included Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson, and Scott Petersen. Mistrial is not only a compilation of anecdotes, but also an attempt to educate the public regarding the problems of the modern legal system. As a "searing manifesto", this book falls short. This is not a scholarly treatise on the criminal law process, but it is entertaining. While I am not fascinated by celebrities nor do I follow famous trials (Scott Peterson, for example), the names were familiar enough to make the behind-the-scenes interesting. I must admit to some cynicism, however; they seem to always portray their clients as misunderstood and, of course, innocent. But then, as defense attorneys, I guess they should. Where the book excels is in its indictment of the cable TV explosion of talking heads and courtroom cameras. The "angry white blond women" chapter was dead-on and laugh-out-loud funny. The authors use plain English to explain the judicial process to a general public which has, for the most part, learned about the legal system by watching television. The case of Will Lynch is perhaps the best example of the good that is done by defense attorneys. The authors' explanation of jury nullification and the part that it played in this case is educational and gives one hope for our legal system. For anyone wanting a basic understanding of modern-day criminal law or anyone who enjoys the true-crime genre, this will be an entertaining read. 4 stars Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pump Up Your Book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I received an advanced uncorrected proof of this book before it went on sale several weeks ago, but it took me a long time to get through it, for a couple of reasons. First, the hold-in-your-hands books are wonderful in so many ways, but the convenience of my Kindle means I often read my e-books first. Second, I found this book to be very readable, but also filled with a lot of great stories and points of view that I had not considered before -- and I wanted to savor every bit of it. Authors I received an advanced uncorrected proof of this book before it went on sale several weeks ago, but it took me a long time to get through it, for a couple of reasons. First, the hold-in-your-hands books are wonderful in so many ways, but the convenience of my Kindle means I often read my e-books first. Second, I found this book to be very readable, but also filled with a lot of great stories and points of view that I had not considered before -- and I wanted to savor every bit of it. Authors Mark Geragos and Pat Harris point out, early on, that we typically think of a slippery weasel like Johnny Cochran (although I am sure he is a fine and upstanding person in other regards) when we hear "criminal defense trial attorney", rather than a figure of justice, like Atticus Finch. There are funny side stories, like this one from my home state: "Judge 'Deacon' Jones of Nebraska was removed from the bench for throwing firecrackers into a colleague's office and for signing court orders with names like Adolf Hitler and Snow White. He was also alleged to have set bail for defendants at amounts like thirteen cents or a zillion penegots. This is why we love being trial lawyers - you just can't make this stuff up." I couldn't rate this a five because, although I loved it through and through, there are many points where the authors sound masochistic, and places where they just can't contain their snarkiness. I have a feeling I would not like them personally, although, as I said before, the book is well-written, entertaining and presents some important facts about our justice system in a way that might have you considering....the other side. ;0)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wilhelmina

    I didn't know who Mark Geragos is, and luckily this is a book I did not invest any money in, instead borrowing it electronically from the library...hopefully he does not get some kind of monetary for books that are in the library. This is just one step up from a "Piece of fluff" reading, and the only reason I gave it two stars instead of one, is that I just loved his illustration in the American media of "the angry white woman"...e.g. the commentators like Nancy Grace and Anne Coulter who are so I didn't know who Mark Geragos is, and luckily this is a book I did not invest any money in, instead borrowing it electronically from the library...hopefully he does not get some kind of monetary for books that are in the library. This is just one step up from a "Piece of fluff" reading, and the only reason I gave it two stars instead of one, is that I just loved his illustration in the American media of "the angry white woman"...e.g. the commentators like Nancy Grace and Anne Coulter who are so outrageous in their views, and who have each revised their own personal history so they appear righteous and proper in their views, while they are actually television personalities in full chase of popularity and a paycheque. Please add to that list Ms. Sunny Hostas, a commentator on CNN who uses her own experiences with her uterus to project what a brain dead mother who has a brain dead fetus, but being kept on life support for almost 8 weeks would have said to her husband. That's when I first saw Mr. Geragos when he was a "guest" on Anderson Cooper Later.........and despite this book being a little more than a piece of fluff with name dropping, and probably written so that he could make more money to spend on a larger house or boat...........he was absolutely right when he told Ms. Hostas that she "didn't get it"......despite the fact she was a "former prosecutor". So Mr. Geragos, please add Ms. Hostas to your list of "angry white woman", although as you now, she is not white! I read it on my vacation after running out of other good books.......it was at the end of my list. Don't buy it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen O'Neal

    Attorneys Mark Geragos and Pat Harris did not set out to write an academic book about legal philosophy or to examine in depth issues surrounding the American criminal justice system. They set out to write a funny, smart take on the law from the perspective of two defense attorneys who have represented a number of prominent people and in this task they succeeded. My only complaint about the book is the authors' casual sexism and ageism which make appearances in a few places in the book. The Attorneys Mark Geragos and Pat Harris did not set out to write an academic book about legal philosophy or to examine in depth issues surrounding the American criminal justice system. They set out to write a funny, smart take on the law from the perspective of two defense attorneys who have represented a number of prominent people and in this task they succeeded. My only complaint about the book is the authors' casual sexism and ageism which make appearances in a few places in the book. The book's greatest strength is the way in which provides context for many social issues that most Americans are aware of but not truly informed about. For example, the authors help the reader to better understand the thought processes of the jurors that acquitted OJ Simpson on murder charges in the 1990s by presenting the reader with information about police brutality in the black community in Los Angeles and the corruption of many police officers there. The book manages the rare feat of mixing fun celebrity gossip about clients the authors have represented (Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, and Susan McDougal among others) and substantive discussion of important issues (the politicization of the judiciary, police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, the role of the media in high profile trials, and other similar topics). The book was easy to read, informative, and very enjoyable. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I've heard Mark Geragos talk on a podcast I listen to regularly, so I knew I'd like his voice. But I was still pleasantly surprised by how conversational this book was, how I didn't feel ridiculous for not knowing too much about the criminal justice system. This book is written by two men who LOVE the law, who are very proud to be defense attorneys, but who are also sure that our justice system is broken and needs to be fixed quickly. They break down every portion of the system - judges, I've heard Mark Geragos talk on a podcast I listen to regularly, so I knew I'd like his voice. But I was still pleasantly surprised by how conversational this book was, how I didn't feel ridiculous for not knowing too much about the criminal justice system. This book is written by two men who LOVE the law, who are very proud to be defense attorneys, but who are also sure that our justice system is broken and needs to be fixed quickly. They break down every portion of the system - judges, prosecution, defense, jurors, media, etc. - and show what it's supposed to do, what it really does, and just emphasizes that it's not working correctly. For one, the media has WAY too much influence over what we know. The cases they choose to publicize, the evidence they choose to share (whether it's factual or not), it all influences how we think about the justice system, which is not the same as us knowing the truth. But while they tell you how the system is broken, they also give some ideas how to fix it. While they KNOW it's broken, they are still working in the system every day to get justice for the clients and to see that the guilty DO get punished. At the end of the day, I'm going to be listening to news reports with a (even more) critical ear, and I will take my job as a potential juror even more seriously.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Fitzgerald

    I bought this book to support Mark Geragos more than anything, and not because I find him to be some admirable human being. I really know nothing about him. What I do know is his podcast Reasonable Doubt with Adam Carolla has taught me more about the criminal justice system than any amount of watching TV or reading a newspaper ever could. I was skeptical I'd enjoy this book, because I had read so many bad books about the law which were clearly written for only other lawyers. This was not the case I bought this book to support Mark Geragos more than anything, and not because I find him to be some admirable human being. I really know nothing about him. What I do know is his podcast Reasonable Doubt with Adam Carolla has taught me more about the criminal justice system than any amount of watching TV or reading a newspaper ever could. I was skeptical I'd enjoy this book, because I had read so many bad books about the law which were clearly written for only other lawyers. This was not the case at all however with Mistrial. The writing is clear and oftentimes hilarious. The anecdotes are memorable and give you a great way of remember what is really going on. When the two writers get into some of the more horrible aspects of the justice system it's really sickening. Their fury is palpable, and you can understand why they're so pissed about the rap defense lawyers get. What was more remarkable was how fair they were to many people. They have a clear understanding of people's motivations. They even explain many of the disadvantages some of their competition faces. You get the sense they have gone so far because they really do empathize with people. The deconstruction of juries, prosecutors, and high profile cases is illuminating and extremely entertaining. I whipped through this book in no time. Highly recommended reading.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    The book has a few interesting anecdotes, but a few more would have made it even more interesting. The authors' opinions about trial law, and especially about the defense bar, are well stated, but not all that well-supported. Their views about "angry blond white women" are spot-on, as can be seen by watching any of them on various cable TV shows where they constantly spew their distortions of the "trial du jour." The book seemed to me, however, to be a bit disjointed because of the authors' The book has a few interesting anecdotes, but a few more would have made it even more interesting. The authors' opinions about trial law, and especially about the defense bar, are well stated, but not all that well-supported. Their views about "angry blond white women" are spot-on, as can be seen by watching any of them on various cable TV shows where they constantly spew their distortions of the "trial du jour." The book seemed to me, however, to be a bit disjointed because of the authors' choices of organization. The arguments did not seem to be compelling. I believe that it would have made for a better book if the authors had used their suggested remedies to the problems with the criminal justice system (remedies that can be found described in the last chapter) as individual chapter themes, fleshing out the problems with descriptions and anecdotes, then proposing a solution for each, using additional anecdotes and arguments to support their positions. The chapters would have been a bit greater in length, but there would have been fewer chapters, and the book would have had a smoother logical flow. Not as interesting as I had hoped and expected, but not a bad read, either. 3 Stars

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