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Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works...and Sometimes Doesn't Hardcover – April 11, 2013

88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


 "Mistrial is three books in one: a memoir of celebrity lawyers, a primer on how to handle high-profile cases and a diagnosis of the ills of the criminal-justice system.... A win: engaging, enlightening and entertaining.”
—David Lat, The Wall Street Journal

"Mistrial is the story of extraordinary careers as the go-to lawyers for the celebrated (or notorious, or both) defendant. Don't miss it!" —Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times bestselling author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, legal affairs writer for The New Yorker, and senior legal analyst for CNN

“[Mark Geragos] is one of those rare lawyers recognizable everywhere.”
Los Angeles Times

“[Geragos] is arguably the hottest defense lawyer of the moment.”
Los Angeles Daily Journal


About the Author

Mark Geragos is the head of Geragos & Geragos, a Los Angeles-based law firm that focuses on both criminal and civil trial work. In his 30-plus year career, he has tried approximately 300 cases and has served as a regular legal analyst on CNN, Fox, and ABC shows. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two children.
Pat Harris is a leading criminal defense attorney and is a partner at Geragos & Geragos. He is a regular contributor on legal issues for shows on Fox and CNN, is the co-author of Susan McDougal’s New York Times bestselling memoir The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk, and speaks regularly at law schools across the country. He lives in Studio City, California with his wife.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (April 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592407722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592407729
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Erskine Kaleely on April 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mistrial is part dissection of a criminal justice system riddled with issues, and part insider tale about the many well-known clients and cases the authors have had - Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Chris Brown, Winona Ryder, etc.

Personally I agree with the general premise that the justice system overall is lurching towards the prosecution, at least for more serious crimes. The media seems to feed a public that salivates voraciously for vengeance, as though it frees the viewing individuals of any responsibility or blame for their own personal failings.

The book is written in an accessible and anecdotal style that cuts straight to the meat of the topic and pulls no punches when the authors have an opinion on something - Nancy Grace takes a riotous shellacking for example - but also has some substantive thoughts about how to fix problems.

All in all an insightful and fun read for anyone that's interested in celebrity court cases, criminal law or the justice system more generally.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Abraham on June 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Reading from a future law student perspective, I believe this book does an exceptional job of preparing future lawyers of what they will face if they plan to become defense attorneys. This book isn't limited to people who plan to become defense lawyers, it also provides insight to students who plan to be DA's, prosecutors, judges;or people simply just interested in the topic of justice and prosecution.

Mr. Geragos and Mr. Harris argue that the justice system is transforming to be against the defense, in other words, against the defendant. Many times innocent people have been convicted for crimes they have not committed (which the book's introduction provides a clear example). DA's don't usually face punishment for restricting evidence that would weaken their case. Assistant DA's, albeit having lack of evidence, are pushed to take a case to trial. So the justice system has come to the point of favoring self-promotion (assistant DA's being promoted, being hard on crime, etc) over truth/justice.

Reasons the DA has advantage over defense as stated in book: a) amount of funds to attain evidence to prosecute nearly limitless compared to defense, b) witnesses generally are more willing to answer police officers than private detectives, c) after the OJ Simpson trial people, which come to serve as juries, have the view that the government isn't hard enough on crime and therefore juries tend to believe that if a person is indicted he/she must be guilty.

The book also does a great job of comparing the defense to the prosecutor as far as how they differ in court and what their duties are. For those interested in law school, lawyering, the justice system, crime, justice, courts, etc. this book will serve well. It is not boring; it is intriguing and fun to read. The authors review many well-known cases from OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, Peterson, etc.

I definitely recommend reading this book for those interested in any of the listed above.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glenn A. Marin on May 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Clearly a relevant view from a defense perspective... but their experiences seem to have biased them more than I would think educated people would fall for. This is not an objective review of the law, but none the less, a very interesting read and with the bias warning, I really do recomment it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK on May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Mark Geragos and Pat Harris have been involved with some of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) trials of the past several years. Their clients have included Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson, and Scott Petersen. Mistrial is not only a compilation of anecdotes, but also an attempt to educate the public regarding the problems of the modern legal system.

As a "searing manifesto", this book falls short. This is not a scholarly treatise on the criminal law process, but it is entertaining. While I am not fascinated by celebrities nor do I follow famous trials (Scott Peterson, for example), the names were familiar enough to make the behind-the-scenes interesting. I must admit to some cynicism, however; they seem to always portray their clients as misunderstood and, of course, innocent. But then, as defense attorneys, I guess they should.

Where the book excels is in its indictment of the cable TV explosion of talking heads and courtroom cameras. The "angry white blond women" chapter was dead-on and laugh-out-loud funny. The authors use plain English to explain the judicial process to a general public which has, for the most part, learned about the legal system by watching television.

The case of Will Lynch is perhaps the best example of the good that is done by defense attorneys. The authors' explanation of jury nullification and the part that it played in this case is educational and gives one hope for our legal system.

For anyone wanting a basic understanding of modern-day criminal law or anyone who enjoys the true-crime genre, this will be an entertaining read.

4 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pump Up Your Book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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Format: Hardcover
Scott Peterson sits on death row in San Quentin and many think this is because of Mark Geragos' pitifully poor representation. Michael Jackson fired him as his defense attorney. Geragos brags about his heroic work with regard to Susan McDougal who served two years in prison to prevent prosecution of a criminal financial fraud. Geragos thinks that representing fading actress Winona Ryder on a shoplifting charge is big stuff, showing him as a fabulous defense lawyer: she was convicted of three of four felony charges.

In short, Geragos is full of himself. There is no doubt that he is a zealous defense attorney who sincerely wants to invoke the protection of the Constitution for his accused clients. But he's really not very good at it, despite his own endless self-promotion as a celebrity lawyer.

Geragos and his partner don't write well, adopting the wise-guy persona that Geragos displays on his many talking-head appearances on cable television. And both he and Harris, his law partner and co-author, have a lot of axes to grind and they grind them here.

Their premise is that criminal law has become exceedingly pro-prosecution in recent decades. So ignorant are these two that they don't recall - and probably aren't familiar with - the circuses of the Scopes trial, Bruno Hauptman's persecution, Sam Shepard's murder trial farce and many other farcical trials in American history.

Instead these guys blame television and talking heads. (Hey, guys, go read the newspaper accounts of the Sam Shepard and other big-name trials.)

So they blame people - and display their ignorance, setting the stage for further displays throughout the book.
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