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It's a shame that such a talented lawyer -- and engaged thinker -- as Alan Dershowitz has become little more than a self-appointed consigliere for high society's better-known scumballs and bottom-feeders. But you have to hand it to the defender of such lowlifes as Leona Helmsley, Michael Milken, Claus von Bulow, Mike Tyson, New York slumlord Rabbi Bergman, and O.J. Simpson: like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps on going, defending the indefensible whether it be in court, on "Nightline," in front of his Harvard Law School classes, or between the covers of quickie books. And though Alan Dershowitz has become one of those lawyers society is growing to hate, he makes a good case that in our constitutional system, someone has to do it.
In Reasonable Doubts, Dershowitz, hired as O.J. Simpson's "God forbid" appeals lawyer, adds little to what the more careful followers of the "crime of the century" already know. He effectively summarizes what was wrong, from a jury's point of view, with the prosecution's case: the knowing use of perjured testimony from members of the LAPD, the embrace of maniacal bigot Detective Mark Fuhrman, blood evidence that was often curious at best and tainted at worst, and the over-reliance on prior domestic abuse as a sufficiently persuasive motive for murder.
Interestingly, Dershowitz makes little attempt to establish O.J.'s innocence (in fact, one suspects he thinks him probably guilty), but persuasively argues that the jury was given plenty of ammunition for reasonable doubt. That jury may have contained some of the dumbest people on the planet, but Dershowitz asks what any of us would have done as jurors faced with the incredible amount of obviously hinky and incompetent behaviour by L.A's finest.
Gossip? None. Dershowitz lavishes praise on Robert Schapiro for laying down the pre-trial strategy -- hiring the best technical experts in the country, concentrating on the forensic weaknesses of the case -- which enabled the defense to outthink and outsmart the prosecution at virtually every turn. And he excoriates Marcia Clark for what he says was her often unethical and hysterical behaviour in Lance Ito' s courtroom. He also provides some Criminal Law 101 style lectures which the reader will either find educational or tiresome.
Lessons? Not as many as the book's hype will lead you to believe. Basically, says Dershowitz, all is well with the U.S. legal system. Such bromides may not convince those appalled by the O.J. travesty.
Dershowitz does concede that it would be nice if indigent defendants were afforded the same kind of representation as O.J. And he hammers hard for one reform: the need to root out the kind of police perjury that occurs routinely in criminal cases, and that in this particular case, probably enabled a guilty man to walk free. -- Salon