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Books, Crooks, and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure Paperback – October 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

""Thorough, well-organized, and authoritative, this excellent reference also has touches of humor."" --""""Mystery Scene"""" (June 2012)

About the Author

Leslie Budewitz is a practicing lawyer with more than 25 years of civil and criminal experience. Her short fiction has been featured in ""Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine,"" ""Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,"" ""Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology,"" ""Thug Lit,"" and the ""Whitefish Review,"" and her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies ""Comfort for Cat Lovers"" and ""Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers, Vol. II."" She lives in Bigfork, Montana.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Quill Driver Books (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610350197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610350198
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A definite must have for writers.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the challenges that confronts anyone attempting to write crime fiction is the daunting task of trying to get the legal details right. Whether writing about a criminal trial or attempting to portray correctly the legalities of investigation and arrest procedures, a writer's job is made enormously more complicated by the myriad of overlapping and sometimes conflicting national, state and local legal jurisdictions, laws and practices.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Some writers depress with their brilliance, making an aspiring writer feel they've sucked up all the great ideas and left nothing for the rest of us. Leslie Budewitz provides a great antidote to this problem. Her legal reference, "Books, Crooks and Counselors," teems with ideas for writers based on the realm of criminal law and courtroom procedure. She inspires with abundance of detail -- it becomes clear that all the writers in the world couldn't use up the infinite material coming out of court cases.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is a definite "must have" for mystery fans and writers that are looking for an easy to understand and thorough reference handbook for their personal libraries. Well written, easy to understand, and a great read for any mystery/crime novel fan!
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Format: Paperback
Writers all have books that they use for research and as a resource. This one's a definite keeper for your collection. Easy to follow with enough details to make it very useful. Don't pass this one by!
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Format: Paperback
In addition to being a valuable aid for authors, this timely and well-paced book is an excellent text for Criminal Justice or Legal Studies students. The example cases used throughout the book clarify legal proceedings so that introductory students and anyone interested in a better understanding of legal procedure is well served by purchasing this inexpensive book. The example cases are interesting to read about, since we've heard about many of them, though we may be unfamiliar with their legal machinations and conclusions. Entertaining and informative.
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