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The Devil's Advocates: Greatest Closing Arguments in Criminal Law [Kindle Edition]

Michael S. Lief , H. Mitchell Caldwell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $26.99
Kindle Price: $15.99
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Book Description

From the authors of the acclaimed Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, and featuring some of the most important cases in criminal law, The Devil's Advocates is the final volume of a must-have trilogy of the best closing arguments in American legal history.

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.

Editorial Reviews


"Makes for unexpectedly engaging reading -- not only the arguments themselves (each an example of rhetorical mastery) but also the history provided to give each argument context."

-- The American Lawyer


"Makes for unexpectedly engaging reading -- not only the arguments themselves (each an example of rhetorical mastery) but also the history provided to give each argument context."

-- The American Lawyer

Product Details

  • File Size: 785 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (September 11, 2007)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W5MI2G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,734 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book January 10, 2007
By ucimike
This is a great book. Not all the arguments in the book are closing arguments, some are arguments made before the Supreme Court such as in Ch. 2, but all the cases in the book are very good and fascinating. What I really love about the book is that the authors give plenty of background information on the case and the events that led up to the case. This is a must read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound book about Great Law Cases October 7, 2006
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I simply cannot heap enough praise. I wished I had this audiobook - of nineteen disks - when I studied criminal justice and trial practice in law school.

What makes this book extraordinary? The audiobook provides dramatic recreations of the great speeches before juries or stirring appellate arguments before the Supreme Court coupled with comprehensive and intelligent contextualization. The cases and arguments are explained within the framework of American history and jurisprudence. For example,in discussing the landmark case of Mapp v. Ohio which created the
exclusionary rule for evidence obtained in violation of the Bill of Rights, the authors delve into the history of the Warren Court, the biographies of the justices, the social changes in the 1960's and the entire legal history of search and seizure from the days before the American Revolution to the time of the argument and beyond. Yes, it is the marvelous background and explanation that makes this a five star book. Thinking of a gift for that young adult who just took her LSAT or gained admission to an Ivy League law school? This is IT.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil is in the Details October 6, 2008
The authors once again have written a fine book which looks at landmark closing arguments. In this book, the third in their series, they focus on noteworthy crimes that formed the basis for trials. You will read the closing argument of Clarence Darrow, one of the 20th Century's most famous lawyers, that he gave in 1925 when he defended an African-American family that shot at a mob that was attacking their home. What I really liked about the book is that the authors put each trial in the social context in which it took place. In the example above, the authors give the reader a great insight to the racial tensions that existed in 1925 which provides needed background in order to understand the significance of the trial.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Oddly enough, the closing arguments themselves were almost always disappointing. Lief and Caldwell do a magnificent job in this book analyzing eight significant criminal cases, from fleshing out the histories of the legal principles to engaging with the most colorful characters to painting detailed pictures about the social settings. Their observations are worth the price of this book, but the direct quotes of lengthy (and probably highly objectionable) closing arguments (or, worse, confused and often ill-prepared arguments at the Supreme Court level) tend to drag everything down. If the authors had written a strict history book that quoted only the most interesting and effective highlights of the various arguments, I would certainly have given it a 5-star rating. As it is, by the sixth chapter of this book I began to skim the direct quotes (or skip them entirely), so I can only give the book three stars. And I'm a public defender who hears and delivers closing arguments frequently, if that means anything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant display of the legal profession December 4, 2007
Yes, some chapters get pretty boring...but in all of the "Greatest Closing Argument" series, there's atleast two that truly shine. In this book, I personally enjoyed Gerry Spence's defense.

If you are a quick reader, or someone who is not bothered about spending a couple hours on reading about how someone supposedly killed someone and this and that supports what, this book is for you. If you cannot stand reading for more than ten minutes, you should save that money for movies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book July 18, 2012
By Matthew
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The first case was a case I had never heard of, and was happy to learn about the case. It would never happen now, but it was interesting to see how the Supreme Court went "down" to the state, Tennessee, to try a case at the state level. It was tried at the state level and then actually retried with witnesses, lawyers for both parties, and viewing evidence they would not normally see at the Supreme Court. I found this book, overall, to be a great book learning about closing arguments. It was not too long, and covered arguments in both the 1800s and 1900s. I truly enjoyed this book.

I received my book on time and in the brand-new condition as advertised. I recommend this seller also.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you can, get the audio-book too April 16, 2013
By XLogic
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
These are major criminal cases (closing args) that set judicial precedence in the United States. The audio-book is incredible, and so is the book.

Note: You may/may-not enjoy this if you are not interested in the law. But even if you are not legally inclined, they do a good job of providing context for the judicial opinions of these great cases.

My favorite cases:
Mapp v. Ohio -- exclusionary rule
Miranda v. Arizona -- assertion of 5th and 6th ammendment rights
Trial of Aaron Burr -- Treason!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book July 27, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book reads like a book of short stories, each one describing a criminal trial. They don't all actually detail the closing arguments, but all are interesting. Lief provides plenty of background information to set the stage for the story, he introduces the attorneys and others involved in the case, and then tells the story, pointing out why the particular case is noteworthy.

I plan on reading Lief's other two closing argument books too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is evidently more about the greatest opinions of the Supreme...
This book is evidently more about the greatest opinions of the Supreme Court. It contains a lot of interesting cases, but to say that any of the closing arguments, of which it... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jay W Logsdon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great condition, great book.
Published 7 months ago by RS
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
I have found this book helpful in many ways during my law school career. It is a wonderful book and very well put together. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Adreanne Stephenson
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, not so much about closing arguments
Well written book, the authors don't really cover that much of the closing arguments for some of the cases and there is more history and reasoning for those chapters. Read more
Published on July 17, 2012 by Jlaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Audio books much enjoyed by young criminal defense attorney
I gave this as a gift in the audio format and it has been much enjoyed by the recipient, who quotes it often and who purchased 3 additional copies to give as gifts.
Published on April 4, 2011 by Julia G. Dumars
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
This book is well-written and captivating. Each chapter gives great details in leading up to the trial, as well as what happens after. I enjoy it immensely. Read more
Published on March 11, 2010 by S. Elston
5.0 out of 5 stars To h#ll with the plea, lets try this case!
Truly amazing and inspiring, beautifully read, a must for any litigator.
Published on April 12, 2007 by Michael C. Fasano
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