Colombia in the 1990s is a country in chaos, as a weak government battles guerrilla movements and narco-traffickers, including the notorious Pablo Escobar and his rivals in the Cali cartel. Enter Jorge Salcedo, a part-time soldier, a gifted engineer, a respected businessman and family man—and a man who despises Pablo Escobar for patriotic and deeply personal reasons. He is introduced to the godfathers of the Cali cartel, who are at war with Escobar and desperately want their foe dead. With mixed feelings, Jorge agrees to help them.
Once inside, Jorge rises to become head of security for Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, principal godfather of the $7-billion-a-year Cali drug cartel. Jorge tries to turn a blind eye to the violence, corruption, and brutality that surround him, and he struggles privately to preserve his integrity even as he is drawn deeper into the web of cartel operations. Then comes an order from the godfathers that he can’t obey—but can’t refuse. Jorge realizes that his only way out is to bring down the biggest, richest crime syndicate of all time.
Thus begins a heart-pumping roller-coaster ride of intensifying peril. Secretly aided by a pair of young American DEA agents, Jorge races time and cartel assassins to extract damaging evidence, help capture the fugitive godfather, and save the life of a witness targeted for murder. Through it all, death lurks a single misstep away.
William C. Rempel is the only reporter with access to this story and to Jorge, who remains in hiding somewhere in the United States—even the author doesn’t know where—but has revealed his experience in gripping detail. Salcedo’s is the story of one extraordinary ordinary man forced to risk everything to end a nightmare of his own making.
From the Hardcover edition.
“A must-read for those who care about justice and integrity in our public institutions.” —Alan M. Dershowitz, Esq.
The Definitive Story of One of the Most Infamous Murders of the Twentieth Century and the Heartbreaking Miscarriage of Justice That Followed
On Halloween, 1975, fifteen-year-old Martha Moxley’s body was found brutally murdered outside her home in swanky Greenwich, Connecticut. Twenty-seven years after her death, the State of Connecticut spent some $25 million to convict her friend and neighbor, Michael Skakel, of the murder. The trial ignited a media firestorm that transfixed the nation. Now Skakel’s cousin Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., solves the baffling whodunit and clears Michael Skakel’s name.
In this revised edition, which includes developments following the Connecticut Supreme Court decision, Kennedy chronicles how Skakel was railroaded amidst a media frenzy and a colorful cast of characters—from a crooked cop and a narcissistic defense attorney to a parade of perjuring witnesses.
Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program
When the government was losing the war on organized crime in the early 1960s, Gerald Shur, a young attorney in the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, urged the department to entice mobsters into breaking their code of silence with promises of protection and relocation. But as high-ranking mob figures came into the program, Shur discovered that keeping his witnesses alive in the face of death threats involved more than eradicating old identities and creating new ones. It also meant cutting off families from their pasts and giving new identities to wives and children, as well as to mob girlfriends and mistresses.
It meant getting late-night phone calls from protected witnesses unable to cope with their new lives. It meant arranging funerals, providing financial support, and in one instance even helping a mobster’s wife get breast implants. And all too often it meant odds that a protected witness would return to what he knew best–crime.
In this book Shur gives a you-are-there account of infamous witnesses, from Joseph Valachi to “Sammy the Bull” Gravano to “Fat Vinnie” Teresa, of the lengths the program goes to to keep its charges safe, and of cases that went very wrong and occasionally even protected those who went on to kill again.
He describes the agony endured by innocent people who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up in a program tailored to criminals. And along with Shur’s war stories, WITSEC draws on the haunting words of one mob wife, who vividly describes her life of lies, secrecy, and loss inside the program.
A powerful true story of the inner workings of one of the most effective and controversial weapons in the war against organized crime and the inner workings of organized crime itself–and more recently against Colombian drug dealers, outlaw motorcycle gang members, white-collar con men, and international terrorists–this book takes us into a tense, dangerous twilight world carefully hidden in plain sight: where the family living next door might not be who they say they are. . .
From the Paperback edition.
A brilliantly engaging writer, Kadri journeys from the silence of ancient Egypt’s Hall of the Dead to the clamor of twenty-first-century Hollywood to show how emotion and fear have inspired Western notions of justice–and the extent to which they still riddle its trials today. He explains, for example, how the jury emerged in medieval England from trials by fire and water, in which validations of vengeance were presumed to be divinely supervised, and how delusions identical to those that once sent witches to the stake were revived as accusations of Satanic child abuse during the 1980s.
Lifting the lid on a particularly bizarre niche of legal history, Kadri tells how European lawyers once prosecuted animals, objects, and corpses–and argues that the same instinctive urge to punish is still apparent when a child or mentally ill defendant is accused of sufficiently heinous crimes.
But Kadri’s history is about aspiration as well as ignorance. He shows how principles such as the right to silence and the right to confront witnesses, hallmarks of due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, were derived from the Bible by twelfth-century monks. He tells of show trials from Tudor England to Stalin’s Soviet Union, but contends that “no-trials,” in Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere, are just as repugnant to Western traditions of justice and fairness. With governments everywhere eroding legal protections in the name of an indefinite war on terror, Kadri’s analysis could hardly be timelier.
At once encyclopedic and entertaining, comprehensive and colorful, The Trial rewards curiosity and an appreciation of the absurd but tackles as well questions that are profound. Who has the right to judge, and why? What did past civilizations hope to achieve through scapegoats and sacrifices–and to what extent are defendants still made to bear the sins of society at large? Kadri addresses such themes through scores of meticulously researched stories, all told with the verve and wit that won him one of Britain’s most prestigious travel-writing awards–and in doing so, he has created a masterpiece of popular history.
From the Hardcover edition.
A series of simple experiments outside the courtroom provides evidence for the explanation, showing that there is little relationship between the actual truth of a story and the degree to which the story is believed to be true by an audience of random listeners not familiar with the teller. So, how do jurors make a particular legal judgment? Based on courtroom observation, trial transcripts, and credibility experiments, Bennett and Feldman create a method of diagramming stories that shows exactly what makes some stories more believable than others. Prosecutors and defense attorneys can use this method of analyzing stories to weigh the strategies and tactics available to them; scholars can use it to assess the process of legal judgment.
Now in its Second Edition, this much-cited resource adds a new preface by the authors, as well as new forewords from divergent perspectives. From his experience in law practice, William S. Bailey notes that the book offers “timeless insights” as its authors “adapt a broad structural framework of storytelling to the criminal trial context, making it come alive in the dynamic real world courtroom environment.” Law-and-society scholar Anna-Maria Marshall writes that the book's “emphasis on storytelling will resonate with scholars studying legal consciousness, where narrative plays an important theoretical and methodological role.... This new edition will be a welcome addition to the Law and Society community.”
"Reconstructing Reality in the Courtroom is as timely as it was when this classic was first published. Here Bennett and Feldman provide great insight into the importance of storytelling as a basis of justice in American criminal trials. It deserves very wide readership."
— Elizabeth F. Loftus
Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine
Author, "Eyewitness Testimony" (1996)
"This classic law and society study on the power of legal stories is a rich and compelling empirical analysis of the dynamics of story construction in trials. The book remains an essential resource for law students, litigators, academics, and any others who wish to understand the interpretive significance of the stories told in the courtroom."
— Jeannine Bell
Professor of Law and Neizer Faculty Fellow,
Indiana University Maurer School of Law — Bloomington
Author, "Hate Thy Neighbor" (2013)
Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series from Quid Pro Books.
The Widow Wave explores this alternate reality. It is a fascinating true-life mystery and lawyer procedural rolled into one. Jay Jacobs offers no facile answers—and he’s not the flawless protagonist typically starring in such dramas. He lets us see how such a big wrongful death case really unfolds, in a true story that reads like a novel. Will the jury find the truth? Will the reader?
"An intelligently told true story of honor, integrity and justice. The Widow Wave reminded me of The Perfect Storm, played out in a taut courtroom thriller. Jay Jacobs masterfully weaves the harrowing tale of the last voyage of the Aloha, and courtroom battle that followed. A great read."
— Robert Dugoni, New York Times Bestselling Author of My Sister's Grave
"A compelling story of a modern day maritime tragedy that beautifully discusses the vital importance of advances in observational technologies, forecasts and communications in avoiding future loss of life at sea. Jacobs skillfully weaves together the legal, scientific and maritime narratives to enthrall and educate the reader."
— Julie Thomas, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Manager of the Institute of Geo and Planetary Physics
"Trial lawyer Jay Jacobs, in a unique, personally revealing memoir, defends a widow and her deceased husband's honor in an intimate first person account of how the civil trial process unfolds.... The reader will learn about the strategies, shoals, and embroilments of a real life, vigorously contested trial with its many emotional upheavals."
— Justice James Marchiano (ret.), formerly Presiding Justice, California Court of Appeals, First Appellate District
"Jacobs' vivid prose pulls you into a compelling drama, deftly transporting you from the courtroom to the storm-tossed Pacific and back to the courtroom again. The book reads like a well-wrought detective novel."
— Daniel James Brown, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Boys in the Boat
Until now, only the twelve jurors who sat in judgment were able to appreciate these virtuoso performances, where weeks of testimony were boiled down and presented with flair, wit, and high drama. For five years the authors researched every archive, and readers can now lose themselves in the summations of America’s finest litigators.
Clarence Darrow saves Leopold and Loeb from the gallows in the Roaring Twenties. Gerry Spence takes on the nuclear power industry for the death of Karen Silkwood in a modern-day David and Goliath struggle. Vincent Bugliosi squares off against the madness of Charles Manson and his murderous “family” in the aftermath of their bloody spree. Clara Foltz, the first woman to practice law in California, argues passionately to an all-male jury, defending her place in the courtroom. Bobby DeLaughter brings the killer of civil-rights leader Medgar Evers to justice after thirty years and two mistrials. Aubrey Daniel brings Lt. William Calley, Jr., to justice for the My Lai massacre. William Kunstler challenges the establishment after the 1968 Chicago riots in his defense of yippie leaders known as the Chicago Seven.
Each closing argument is put into context by the authors, who provide historical background, a brief biography of each attorney, and commentary, pointing out the trial tactics used to great effect by the lawyers, all in accessible, reader-friendly language.
When McClain hears of Syed’s arrest, she wrote to him to let him know that she might be his alibi. In spite of the opportunity to have him proven innocent, Syed’s attorney did not take any action. Later, his attorney was disbarred due to numerous health problems including multiple sclerosis. She died in 2004.
Over a decade after Syed’s arrest, This American Life’s Sarah Koenig investigates the old case. Her interviews with McClain become the first subject of Koenig’s hugely successful podcast Serial and the story became an international internet phenomenon.
Determined to set the record straight and the truth free, McClain reaches out to Syed’s new defense attorney and on November 6, 2015, the court ordered an investigation to determine whether Syed’s case be re-opened "in the interests of justice for all parties.” Finally, McClain can become the key alibi witness that she was always meant to be.
Now, in Confessions of a Serial Alibi, Asia McClain tells her story for the very first time.
William "Bill" Gulya has forty years of experience in the sitework construction business. He is a highly respected and sought after expert witness in his field. For many of those years, he has been the principal of Middlesex Trenching, a company founded by his late and beloved father. Over the years, Gulya grew the business from a tiny company using the local deli as an office, into a highly successful enterprise. The author and his wife Kathy have two children- Stacy and William, III-and four grandchildren, whom they adore. Gulya derives great satisfaction from using his extensive experience and knowledge to make a difference in people's lives. When he is not busy guiding justice toward the truth, he can often be found on the golf course, ruminating on the evidence in his latest case, and perfecting his golf swing. (Visit www.siteworkexpert.com)
When Sandy Jones and her teenage son were accused of murdering a real estate developer on their hardscrabble Oregon farm, the prosecution had an eyewitness to the shooting and a photograph of Sandy holding a smoking rifle. County officials kept Sandy in jail while they awaited the trial, despite ballistic evidence that strongly suggested she hadn't fired the fatal shot. The case erupted into an epic struggle between Sandy -- who was poor, different, and a woman -- and the "good old boys" of Lincoln County, Oregon, who held all the power.
Though the Joneses' guilt seemed eminently clear to the county and the prosecution, Gerry Spence, renowned for his work on the cases of Karen Silkwood and Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, took the case pro bono and the courtroom battle exploded into three years of intensely moving jury trials, recounted here from the record of the case. The Smoking Gun follows Gerry Spence through his passionate arguments with two different judges and two different prosecutorial teams, his exacting jury selection, his expert questioning of the witnesses, and his incredible rapport with the jury as he fights for the rights of Sandy and her son.
With a superb sense of drama and an intimate knowledge of the court system, Spence highlights the pitfalls that every defendant faces, making The Smoking Gun extremely relevant today, when our rights are being eroded and when the average American, even if innocent, is hard-pressed to obtain a fair trial.
Thousands of people have given testimony before these courts. Most have witnessed war crimes, including mass killings, torture, rape, inhumane imprisonment, forced expulsion, and the destruction of homes and villages. For many, testifying in a war crimes trial requires great courage, especially as they are well aware that war criminals still walk the streets of their villages and towns. Yet despite these risks, little attention has been paid to the fate of witnesses of mass atrocity. Nor do we know much about their experiences testifying before an international tribunal or the effect of such testimony on their return to their postwar communities. The first study of victims and witnesses who have testified before an international war crimes tribunal, The Witnesses examines the opinions and attitudes of eighty-seven individuals—Bosnians, Muslims, Serbs, and Croats—who have appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Is the public right? In this eye-opening, incisive book, Richard Zitrin and Carol Langford, two practicing lawyers and distinguished law professors, shine a penetrating light on the question everyone is asking: Why do lawyers behave the way they do? All across the country, lawyers view certain behavior as "ethical" while average citizens judge that same conduct "immoral." Now, with expert analysis of actual cases ranging from murder to class action suits, Zitrin and Langford investigate lawyers' behavior and its impact on our legal system. The result is a stunningly clear-eyed exploration of law as it is practiced in America today--and a cogent, groundbreaking program for legal reform.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
• Jury persuasion
• Application of rules to electronic evidence
• Trends in applying the Daubert factors for assessing expert testimony
• Amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence
But this eminently practical book is not just for law students--practitioners will find a wealth of information with which to brush up their skills and gain new insight into their practice.
The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options.
Elizabeth Boals and Steve Lubet coauthored the Third Edition of Expert Testimony: A Guide for Expert Witnesses and the Lawyers Who Examine Them expanding and amplifying the original book with:
• New guidance on the development and presentation of expert testimony in the digital age, including discussion of visual aids and electronic discovery
• Updated analysis of the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
• Updated discussion of the ethical rules governing expert retention and testimony
• Examples of expert witness examinations and detailed discussion of techniques for coping with lawyer questioning
• Checklists for quick reference
The collaborative effort of Professors Lubet and Boals has resulted in a Third Edition that is worthwhile to both the expert witnesses and the lawyers who examine them.
The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options.
William T. Pizzi here argues that what the public perceives is in fact exactly what the United States has: a trial system that places far too much emphasis on winning and not nearly enough on truth, one in which the abilities of a lawyer or the composition of a jury may be far more important to the outcome of a case than any evidence.
How has a system on which Americans have lavished enormous amounts of energy, time, and money been allowed to degenerate into one so profoundly flawed?
Acting as an informal tour guide, and bringing to bear his experiences as both insider and outsider, prosecutor and academic, Pizzi here exposes the structural faultlines of our trial system and its paralyzing obsession with procedure, specifically the ways in which lawyers are permitted to dominate trials, the system's preference for weak judges, and the absurdities of plea bargaining. By comparing and contrasting the U.S. system with that of a host of other countries, Trials Without Truth provides a clear-headed, wide-ranging critique of what ails the criminal justice system—and a prescription for how it can be fixed.
The book analyzes specific issues: methods of selecting judges, the capacity of citizen-jurors to make appropriate decisions, cameras in the courtroom, "three strikes" laws, and the prosecution of juveniles as adults. The discussions illuminate competing perspectives on controversies that influence new initiatives and reforms affecting courts and their operations.
Criminal law is considered by many to be the most exciting of the legal specialties, and here the authors turn to the type of dramatic crimes and trials that have so captivated the public -- becoming fodder for countless television shows and legal thrillers. But the eight cases in this collection have also set historical precedents and illuminated underlying principles of the American criminal justice system.
Future president John Adams makes clear that even the most despised and vilified criminal is entitled to a legal defense in the argument he delivers on behalf of the British soldiers who shot and killed five Americans during the Boston Massacre.
The always-controversial temporary-insanity defense makes its debut within sight of the White House when, in front of horrified onlookers, a prominent congressman guns down the district attorney over an extramarital affair.
Clarence Darrow provides a ringing defense of a black family charged with using deadly force to defend themselves from a violent mob -- an argument that refines the concept of self-defense and its applicability to all races.
The treason trial of Aaron Burr, accused of plotting to "steal" the western territories of the United States and form a new country with himself as its head, offers a fascinating glimpse into a rare type of prosecution, as well as a look at one of the most interesting traitors in the nation's history.
Perhaps the best-known case in the book is that of Ernesto Miranda, the accused rapist whose trial led to the Supreme Court decision requiring police to advise suspects of their rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present -- their Miranda rights.
Each of the eight cases presented here is given legal and cultural context, including a brief historical introduction, a biographical sketch of the attorneys involved, highlights of trial testimony, analysis of the closing arguments, and a summary of the trial's impact on its participants and our country. In clear, jargon-free prose, Michael S Lief and H. Mitchell Caldwell make these pivotal cases come to vibrant life for every reader.
A 30-year veteran of the bench, Aldisert helps litigators understand and apply the elements of legal logic. Using these skills, you can argue more persuasively - both in briefs and before the court. And just as critically, you can also expose flaws in adversaries' arguments.
The result? A competitive edge in the courtroom. Rather than miring readers in exotic formulas and theories often found in logic texts, Aldisert explains in broad strokes the basics of logic and its application to legal thinking. You'll gain important insight into the mental processes we use in "thinking like a lawyer."
"This is a book about legal reasoning or legal logic. While not challenging Justice Holmes' classic statement, 'The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience,' it offers telling arguments that legal reasoning, or legal logic, may plan an equal or even more significant role in the life of the law ... All judges, lawyers, and law students will greatly profit by reading it."
-William J. Brennan, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice (Ret.)
"Logic for Lawyers is the product of a keen mind that has benefited from opportunities to engage in and examine legal thinking from a variety of perspectives. This volume fills a surprising void in the current legal literature. Its publication should be particularly welcomed by law students and those who teach them."
-Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor and Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh
The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options.
With the help of more than forty quick reference charts and checklists, Steven Lubet guides the student from developing a winning case theory through all phases of trial. Written in a clear, concise style that is attractive to students, Lubet shows them how to present their cases as a story . . . and to powerfully and persuasively tell that story to the jury.
The Third Edition has been updated to reflect developments in the law, both jurisprudential and statutory, and has been expanded to include new material about the persuasive use of electronic documents and visuals and the conduct of fully electronic trials.
The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options.
The second volume in a must-have trilogy of the best closing arguments in American legal history
Every day, Americans enjoy the freedom to decide what we do with our property, our bodies, our speech, and our votes. However, the rights to these freedoms have not always been guaranteed. Our civil rights have been assured by cases that have produced monumental shifts in America's cultural, political, and legal landscapes.
And the Walls Came Tumbling Down showcases eight of the most exciting closing arguments in civil law -- from the Amistad case, in which John Quincy Adams brought the injustice of slavery to the center stage of American politics, to the Susan B. Anthony decision, which paved the way to success for women's suffrage, to the Larry Flynt trial, in which the porn king became an unlikely champion for freedom of speech. By providing historical and biographical details, as well as the closing arguments themselves, Lief and Caldwell give readers the background necessary to fully understand these important cases, bringing them vividly to life.
First published in 2000, Mock Trials has become the leading textbook used by students and coaches to prepare for mock trial competitions. The Second Edition improves upon the first by providing students and coaches at every level with a complete step-by-step guide to preparing, presenting and winning a mock trial. Diagrams, charts and summaries, as well as sample fact scenarios, colloquies and arguments, are used to explain complicated concepts simply in an easy-to-follow and interesting manner. This textbook is specifically designed for use by pre-law and law students, but the legal and stylistic techniques it teaches remain applicable throughout lawyers' careers. For high school and undergraduate students competing in mock trials or considering a career in law, Mock Trials gives a solid overview of the conduct of a trial from start to finish. It's also perfect for mock trial coaches to use as a how-to guide. Topics addressed in this edition of Mock Trials include:
• Understanding the law and how trials work
• Organizing your trial binder
• Discerning the material admissible facts and outlining your case
• Devising a compelling theme and theory and telling a memorable story
• Communicating effectively both verbally and nonverbally
• Tailoring your presentation to bench trials versus jury trials
• Getting the most mileage out of pretrial dialogue with the court
• Understanding the rules of evidence and procedure
• Planning out your direct and cross examinations
• Laying foundations to admit all types of evidence
• Making and responding to evidentiary objections
• Drawing the sting and impeaching witnesses on bad facts
• Examining and challenging experts effectively
• Giving compelling opening statements and closing arguments
The Sixth Edition expands the coverage of the Federal Rules of Evidence, explaining and illustrating how to lay foundations that satisfy evidentiary requirements set forth in the rules. Foundational requirements for electronic records and many other types of exhibits, including those prepared by courtroom graphics experts, also gain additional prominence in the new edition. Some of the illustrative examinations and arguments in the new edition are drawn from trials that took place in a variety of eras. For example, the chapter on closing argument compares arguments made in the murder trial of Euphiletus (Greece, circa 400 B.C.) with those made in the trial of OJ Simpson (1995). Among the other trials from which illustrations are drawn are those of the Rosenbergs (the so-called “atomic spies,” 1953), the Menendez Brothers (1991), the “Hillmon case” (1890’s), and the “Triangle Shirtwaist Fire” case (1911). The illustrations from these cases are not only interesting, but also suggestive of enduring principles of persuasion.
Another feature of the Sixth Edition are analyses of examples drawn from classic courtroom films such as Anatomy of a Murder, 12 Angry Men and My Cousin Vinny. Combined with these new and expanded features, the Sixth Edition preserves many of the features that have made the book so valuable to readers. For example, the book continues to carefully explain principles, illustrate them, and analyze the illustrations. Popular “models,” such as the Credibility Model and the Safety Model of Cross Examination, also appear in the new edition. Also carried forward is the book’s light tone which makes it not only useful but also a good read.
Justice Arbour contends that previous efforts to unite concepts of international law and criminal law in the practice of these tribunals are evolving, and suggests that the ties between personal criminal accountability and peace should be central to the decisions made in the future concerning procedural models for the permanent International War Crimes Tribunals. As a result, the public might better understand the context and causes of such crime, and the notion of crime as a breach of the peace would be made central to these trials.
Justice Arbour delivered War Crimes and the Culture of Peace as the fifth annual Senator Keith Davey Lecture at Victoria University at the University of Toronto in January 2001.
This abuse of our fundamental rights is extremely dangerous. Far from being mere technicalities, constitutional rights benefit all citizens, not just the factually guilty, in ways that go unappreciated by most of us. In today’s hyper-vigilant, tough-on-crime climate, many good people from all walks of life find themselves charged with serious crimes for behaving in ways that most of us would be shocked to learn are criminal. For these reasons, it is in all of our interests to ensure strong constitutional safeguards for everyone.
Tried and Convicted explains several individual constitutional rights that are intended to protect us from the vagaries of the criminal justice system, and gives detailed examples of how government agents routinely circumvent those rights. It also exposes the underlying problems that enable government agents to circumvent the constitution, and concludes by offering potential solutions to these problems. Using real life examples throughout, Cicchini provides a wake-up call for all of us.
Critics of the adversary system, of course, have little patience for storytelling, regarding trial lawyers as flimflam artists who use sly means and cunning rhetoric to befuddle witnesses and bamboozle juries. Why not simply allow the witnesses to speak their minds, without the distorting influence of lawyers' stratagems and feints?
But Lubet demonstrates that the craft of lawyer storytelling is a legitimate technique for determining the truth andnot at all coincidentallyfor providing the best defense for the attorney's client. Storytelling accomplishes three important purposes at trial. It helps to establish a "theory of the case," which is a plausible and reasonable explanation of the underlying events, presented in the light most favorable to the attorney's client. Storytelling also develops the "trial theme," which is the lawyer's way of adding moral force to the desired outcome. Most importantly, storytelling provides a coherent "story frame," which organizes all of the events, transactions, and other surrounding facts into an easily understandable narrative context.
As with all powerful tools, storytelling may be misused to ill purposes. Therefore, as Lubet explains, lawyers do not have carte blanche to tell whatever stories they choose. It is a creative process to be sure, but every story must ultimately be based on "nothing but the truth." There is no room for lying.
On the other hand, it is obvious that trial lawyers never tell "the whole truth," since life and experience are boundless and therefore not fully describable. No lawyer or court of law can ever get at the whole truth, but the attorney who effectively employs the techniques of storytelling will do the best job of sorting out competing claims and facts, thereby helping the court arrive at a decision that serves the goals of accuracy and justice.
To illustrate the various challenges, benefits, and complexities of storytelling, Lubet elaborates the stories of six different trials. Some of the cases are real, including John Brown and Wyatt Earp, while some are fictional, including Atticus Finch and Liberty Valance. In each chapter, the emphasis is on the narrative itself, emphasizing the trial's rich context of facts and personalities. The overall conclusion, as Lubet puts it, is that "purposive storytelling provides a necessary dimension to our adversary system of justice."