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

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A searing and entertaining manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America?s most prominent defense attorneys.
From the rise of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle to the television ratings bonanza of the O.J. Simpson trial, a perfect storm of media coverage has given the public an unprecedented look inside the courtroom, kicking off ...

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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 and entertaining manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys.
From the rise of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle to the television ratings bonanza of the O.J. Simpson trial, a perfect storm of media coverage has given the public an unprecedented look inside the courtroom, kicking off popular courtroom shows and TV legal commentary that further illuminate how the criminal justice system operates. Or has it?
In Mistrial, Mark Geragos and Pat Harris debunk the myths of judges as Solomon-like figures, jurors as impartial arbiters of the truth, and prosecutors as super-ethical heroes.

Mistrial draws the curtain on the court’s 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 ago before blogs and television is still viable today.
In the aftermath of recent high-profile cases, 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—having represented clients like Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Scott Peterson, Chris Brown, Susan MacDougal, and Gary Condit—to equally compelling cases defending individuals desperate to avoid the spotlight.
Shining unprecedented light on what really goes on in the courtroom, Mistrial is an enjoyable, fun look at a system that rarely lets you see behind the scenes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Despite their impressive credentials as two of America's leading defense lawyers with a long list of celebrity clients (Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, Gary Condit), Geragos and Harris don't offer any particularly new insights on the state of criminal justice in the US today. Many of their observations could have been made, and have been, over the last several decades, undercutting their contention that things have radically changed in recent years. For example, they write: "If you're a trial lawyer, dealing with the media is now part of your job, and that is not going away anytime soon," a sentiment that could easily have appeared in a similarly-themed book from the 1980s or the 1920s. The subtitle is misleading, suggesting a proportionality the text doesn't bear out, as more often than not, their war stories are about when the system doesn't work, due to, for example, overzealous prosecutors, elected judges eager to stay on the bench, and shrewish media personalities who slant the truth shamelessly. There are thoughtful suggestions for reform, including involving judges more actively in plea-bargaining, and having professional juries, but these receive less attention than they warrant. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592407729
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/11/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 969,488
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Geragos is the head of Geragos & Geragos, a Los Angeles-based law firm that focuses on both criminal and civil trial work. In his 30-plus year career, he has tried approximately 300 cases and has served as a regular legal analyst on CNN, Fox, and ABC shows. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two children.
Pat Harris is a leading criminal defense attorney and is a partner at Geragos & Geragos. He is a regular contributor on legal issues for shows on Fox and CNN, is the co-author of Susan McDougal’s New York Times bestselling memoir The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk, and speaks regularly at law schools across the country. He lives in Studio City, California with his wife.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2013


    I recommend it to all my reader friends.It gets to the point, fully explains with no holds barred how our judicial system works. Much more enlightening that any legal book I've ever read. Thanks Mr Geragos, Mr. Harris for your honesty and directness. So compelling, it makes me want to be an attorney. Well written, easy reading, easy to follow, and well researched. The examples were well used.
    Dean Harris (no relation)

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    Posted July 10, 2013

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