An Inside Look at How the Ceiminal Justice System Works … and Sometimes Doesn’t

We the people, immersed in “Boston Legal,” “Law and Order,” and “The Good Wife,” believe we know what goes on in a court of law. Media attention to high-profile cases like the Casey Anthony verdict and our unprecedented access to real-life in-court drama, via the televised O.J. Simpson trial, and others, have lulled us into thinking we understand the American judicial system. We are so wrong.

Now, in MISTRIAL: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works … and Sometimes Doesn’t (Gotham Books; April 2013; $27.00) Mark Geragos, JD, and Pat Harris, JD, upend the scales and reveal why “justice” often literally is blind in this land of stealth jurors manipulating their way onto cases so they can convict a defendant, cops who feel compelled to lie on the witness stand, detectives who sell confidential police information, defense attorneys too scared to go to trial, and clients eager to bribe judges.

Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, two of America’s leading criminal defense attorneys, take readers inside some of the most compelling and sensational trials of the past 20 years. They have worked on cases that involved celebrities (Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Winona Ryder, Mike Tyson) and on cases that have made ordinary people into celebrities (Susan McDougal, Scott Peterson, Gary Conduit).

Going behind the legal scenes, Geragos and Harris assess the dramatic changes that have occurred in our judicial system, making it heavily weighted toward the prosecution. They examine how politics shifted the balance, the strategies that fed misconceptions that courts were soft on crime, why the O.J. Simpson trial spiraled out of control and the powerful impact it had on future jurors countrywide, and the deep influence of media coverage. Zeroing in on the wide margins of error, Geragos and Harris scrutinize defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, jurors, clients, cops, and the media, and the roles they play in changing your perception of the truth.

Far from preserving the credo of “innocent until proven guilty,” more jurors than ever are entering the court convinced that our system could not get it wrong. The falsely accused are confessing to crimes they did not commit, and only a portion of the wrongly convicted defendants are being proven innocent and released, following re-evaluation of evidence.

MISTRIAL will change forever your outlook as a juror, and make you think twice about your rights as a defendant. You will question why the public is so willing to overlook a D.A. who jails an innocent person.
A manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system, and outlining steps that can be taken to bring balance back, MISTRIAL is a fascinating and timely read for legal eagles and armchair arbiters, alike.

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