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Books, Crooks, and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure Paperback – October 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an excellent legal resource for writers. The chapters and sections are well thought out and the index makes it easy to go to the part you need. This is less a 'beginning to end read' (although you can do that if you want), but more of a 'I want to know this now'.
It's also a great general overview for any one interested in understanding the legal system and the law. Or for when one encounters legal references and procedures or other aspects of the legal system or the law in newspaper articles, radio or television news, shows or movies.
Given that, Leslie Budewitz has done a great service to writers--and to crime fiction readers who would like to better understand these complex issues--with her new book, Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure. Budewitz, who is herself a published mystery writer as well as a practicing attorney, carefully walks the reader through the basics of the judicial system in the U.S. and then describes what occurs before a criminal trial. Using a variety of examples to demonstrate the points she makes, she discusses the rules of evidence, the role of witnesses, the required burden of proof and the appeals process.
She moves on to treat a number of legal issues that arise during the course of a criminal investigation, lays out the distinctions between various levels of crime and discusses the various punishments a court might mete out, including the death penalty. Budewitz then discusses the role of the civil courts and advises writers on the matters of thinking like a lawyer and like a judge. Given that the law and judicial procedures are constantly evolving, she closes with a very useful chapter on research and references.Read more ›
Budewitz provides evocative examples of putting legal knowledge to use in fiction -- for example, the relentless plot line of "Winter's Bone" is driven by a teenager's desperation to find her missing father before his bail is forfeited. She draws us to an appreciation of the use of both famous and obscure cases in developing new story lines and provides cautionary notes that almost anticipate a writer's potential blunder.
This is by no means a dry reference manual, although law students would doubtless become more engaged in learning if it became a standard text. Budewitz lets us in on some of the seriously funny things that happen to lawyers, the real you can't make this up stuff. She tells a hilarious story about the person she was deposing becoming so irate with her tactics that he lunged across the table at her, causing the court reporter to knock over her machine. And then ..... Well I'll let you read "Books, Crooks" to find out for yourself.
I could have really used Budewitz's explanation of the discovery process the year I represented myself when my small claims suit got appealed to district court. The judge didn't rule me in contempt for my bumblings but I know he was stifling a big chuckle as he tried to keep me straight regarding the rules of evidence.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Clear, engaging, and well-researched. Will greatly appeal to writers, of course, but also to anyone with even a passing interest in the ins and outs of the legal system. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Docent
An excellent resource, most especially useful because the author is a well-reviewed mystery writer herself. Also fun to read (and how often can you say that about reference books?)Published 17 months ago by M. LaRue
Why do all of these 5 star reviews sound like they're written by the same person??? Look at the syntax and dates the reviews were written. Read morePublished on August 16, 2013 by Lee Scott
Books, Crooks And Counselors is a book written as an aid for writers whose books are about crimes. It explains the various topics that such writers encounter, and gives enough... Read morePublished on June 12, 2013 by Sandra Iler Kirkland
Although I found no disclosure requirement in the law, I wouldn't want you to dismiss this review with prejudice or to feel that I was negligent, so in the interest of full... Read morePublished on July 16, 2012 by R. BULL
Book is bursting with great legal information. Every writer must have this book. It is structured in an "oh-so-easy" way to make finding what you need so easy and simple. Read morePublished on June 28, 2012 by Olga Oliver
I've published 29 romance novels, many with light suspense/mystery elements. I buy/read a lot of writer guides to everything from PIs to poisons and this book is exceptionally... Read morePublished on May 14, 2012 by Carlie Starr
Leslie Budewitz has provided a wonderful legal resource for mystery writers. She is a mystery writer in her own right as well as an attorney at law. Read morePublished on May 14, 2012 by Edie