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  Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments in Modern Law by Michael S. Leif, H. Mitchell Caldwell, Ben Bycel

Review by: Kayla G.
Pennsylvania, Grade 8

It changes your opinion of the court of law.

If you like books that drone on and on about some partially unrelated topic and have unbearably long closing arguments then Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments in Modern Law is your book. The only somewhat worthwhile part of this 400 page book was, well, barely anything. The idea of having one case per chapter is a unique idea, and I have to admit, that was why I picked this book. The negative aspects outweigh the good. Some Closing Arguments were 32, 45, and even 56 pages long. That’s only the Closing Argument itself. There were only about two or three chapters of which I enjoyed in this book. I would not recommend Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury to anyone who is looking for a good book. It pertaining to dull conversations between two unknown people, and in moments more than few it felt as if this book was more about the infamous Clarence Darrow than the greatest trials of all time.
Chapter one started out promising, but soon the chapter started spiraling downward. I’m relatively interested in Hitler and the Holocaust. This first chapter didn’t seem to focus so much on Hitler and the details surrounding this historic event, as on the slower, more precise plans of the road to the traumatic affair. Architects of Genocide mentioned a mass of names and people nobody would ever recognize, let alone be able to pronounce. This chapter droned on, seemingly half in German and completely incomprehensible. It took me weeks to get through this unbelievably mind-numbing chapter.
Chapter two clashed right into chapter three. Clarence Darrow defended himself against jury bribing and a few other matters for roughly 12 pages, not including the 32 page Closing Argument. As if that wasn’t torture enough, the beginning of chapter three was just as dry; at first. Disorder in the Court, pertained to the Chicago Seven trial. This chapter was the first chapter I truly enjoyed, seeing that just two pages in, the interest kicked in. A full-blown swearing match, resistance, yelling, beating, arguing, and violence broke loose. I found this chapter quite entertaining, actually. The real trial could now start, after everyone was calmed and controlled. However, this trial didn’t go without interruption. Chicago Seven members were the courtroom’s temporary inhabitants, calling out, chanting, and singing even, each act provoking the bailiffs to batter them farther. The courtroom was more of a verbal crusade with spotty violence rather than a courtroom. Nevertheless, this passage was still enchanting.
“If the lion gets away, Kerr-McGee has to pay.” That was the motto for all of chapter four, Death by Plutonium. “Fallout from Karen Silkwood’s Death Brings the Nuclear Industry to Its Knees” screams the first line. Sounds attention grabbing, and decent, and it was. This trial, led by Gerry Spence was a joy to read. He used sarcasm, similes, and left his own opinions peer through. The Closing Argument this man delivered was light, and engaging, and kept getting a little better each paragraph, even though he still tended to ramble a bit. He actually states that he used to forget what to say in his Closing Arguments. It’s hard to believe, for me. The way he spoke, or the way it was written, seemed laid back, and there was a calm, but sporadic tone in his words.
Chapter five, Leopold and Loeb, isn’t even worth mentioning, let alone finishing this sentence. A Man’s World No More, chapter six. You can already envisage what this one will be about. To be honest, as a young woman, I found this chapter extremely sexist as well as empowering. Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first female lawyer, ever, is the star of this chapter. Of course, in the 1870’s there wasn’t really a chance for any woman to be given much dignity or respect, let alone bring down criminals in the court of law. Foltz didn’t have it easy. In the middle of cases, her opponents would every so often shout out slurs relating to women and their rightful place and duties.
Finally, I can give the review of my favorite chapter of this entire book. Chapter seven: Peace, Love, and Murder. “Manson Family Mastermind Sentences to Die for Followers’ Murderous Rampage,” declares the blurb under the title. This was by far, the best chapter of the whole story. It was exciting, and informative. You could imagine how each person played their role in the murders. It was immeasurably brilliant. It was like a real life CSI episode, only better, longer, and more in depth. People in the courtroom had received death threats, bought firearms and extra deadbolts, the whole shebang. This subdivision was darkly intriguing, even though the Closing Argument, once again, rattled on.
Chapter eight, Justice Delayed but Not Denied, was racially powered. A white man killed an African-American in the South in 1964. Imagine how long it took to get that sick man was convicted. Here’s a hint: the whole chapter walks you through it. Dully, I may add. One line by Paul Rothstein, evidence and criminal law expert, may throw you. “People die, memories fade, and documents disappear,” he says. It made me think he was guilty for something, when he was not. He wasn’t even the suspect. This chapter brought family into it, bringing emotion into the section. “This isn’t about black versus white or white versus black. This case is about a man being gunned down and shot down, in the back, in the dark from ambush, not being able to face his self-appointed accuser, his judge, his executioner,” Bobby DeLaughter said. Chapter nine and ten are, once again, barely even worth referencing.
The authors of And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, and The Devil’s Advocate have come together once again to create yet another Judicial Branch book. Albeit, I didn’t say it was a good Judicial Branch book. I would most likely not recommend this book, although it had a few good parts to it. I do have to say one thing. I never thought too much about trials, let alone the Judicial Branch. My perspective has changes immensely. The concept of trials and juries and lawyers intrigues me. This book has, if anything else, changed my point of view on all things law or the aspects of anything Judicial-related.

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