From Publishers Weekly
This tragicomic exposé is a roller-coaster ride through the world of justice in the South Bronx. Former trial chief of the Bronx Defenders, Feige takes us through a typically harrowing day as a public defender, dealing with arbitrary judges and clients who are often victims of the judicial system. By a combination of skill and stealth, Feige negotiates the best deal he can get for his clients. In Feige's account, the power of judges—many of whom, he says, are political hacks—triumphs over almost everything else. One judge demanded that all Jews be removed from jury selection because they wouldn't be able to be present on Yom Kippur. To keep up with 75–100 cases at a time. Feige "reinvents" the rules so he can race from one court building to another. We follow the fortunes of dozens of cases, from the ridiculous (Michael, jailed for simply walking a friend's unvaccinated dog) to the tragic ( Jaron, charged with stabbing his cousin). But it's the failure of the system to free the innocent that haunts the author. In this dramatic first book, Feige skillfully shares his wisdom and his humanity and sheds light on a justice system that too often works irrationally. (June 3)
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In an ordinary day in the life of this South Bronx public defender, readers encounter a range of people and circumstances that reflects a comedy of errors, except that the outcomes are hardly amusing and profoundly impact the life--or death--of the defendants. Feige brings an insider's perspective as he dares to humanize criminals and to criminalize law enforcement when it is deserved. With the staggering number of cases, shortage of personnel, and apparent caste and class differences inherent in our criminal justice system, this foray into the public defender's office throws a harsh light on the criminal justice system. With a style that combines black comedy with the drama of a thriller, Feige provokes a debate about the shortcomings of our justice system and the overarching disregard for the underclass that is evident in that system. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved