My Wednesday wanna-read this week is yet another related to the criminal justice system.
Defense attorneys Pat Harris and Mark Geragos authored Mistrial to look at how the system works, or how it doesn’t.
Geragos and Harris have both defended famous clients over the course of their careers. Geragos defended Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder and Scott Peterson, while Harris has worked with Geragos on many of those cases.
Goodreads describes the book as being a “searing manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system.”
As someone who sees the justice system at work on a regular basis, I can tell you firsthand that being inside a courtroom is not like an episode of Law and Order. There is no music in the background to tell you when a big moment is coming up and the lengthy sidebars and boring testimony are enough to put anyone to sleep. Yet, those things like chain of custody are important to establish on the record.
Goodreads goes on to describe the book in this way: “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.”
Some of those aspects of the book will likely only apply to those who are in big cities with high-profile cases. In small-town America, that’s really not the case very often. There aren’t that many high-profile cases to be a stealth juror on. And being a stealth juror has to be ridiculously hard. Voir dire is incredibly in-depth and maintaining that persona on social media and in person for the duration of a trial isn’t easy.
I’m curious to see how Geragos and Harris want to address potential changes to the system in order to make it more fair. I think this could be a really interesting read.