Sf writer Cory Doctorow says lawyer-cartoonist Burney’s guide to the bedrock of his trade is a “great gift” to aspiring crooks and prospective law students. Since yakking about high-profile murders, rapes, heists, and so forth is a major pastime, plenty of law-abiding nonstudents should welcome it, too, especially because Burney amuses while informing. For instance, the chapter “It Was Either Him or Me” opens up a Wild West scenario to exemplify when you can and can’t use deadly force, under what circumstances throwing the first punch is justified, when you can stand your ground and when you should retreat, and other matters of self-defense. Other chapters on the purposes of punishment; what constitutes guilt; solicitation, accomplice liability, and conspiracy (a particularly engaging presentation); entrapment; and other topics extrapolate more than one scenario, and it is always illustrated in a way to genuinely illuminate the subject matter, not divert us from it. In short, Burney’s rudimentary cartooning ideally complements his crystal-clear explanations of what is and isn’t criminal in the eyes of the law. --Ray Olson
About the Author
studied law at Georgetown University, where he was an editor of the American Criminal Law Review and a student practitioner defending juveniles in the District of Columbia. In between classes and the library, he worked at the Supreme Court as personal assistant to retired Chief Justice Warren Burger, and jammed in a bar band called The Ambulance Chasers. After law school, he moved to New York City to be a prosecutor in the Manhattan DA's office. After several years in Special Narcotics, he moved on to the famed Rackets Bureau, where he investigated political corruption and cleaned up a mafia-controlled labor union. Meanwhile, he lectured on criminal law at New York City schools and coached student mock trial teams. He did not play in a band, which was probably for the best. In 2006, Mr. Burney returned to the defense side, focusing mostly on complex cases like wiretaps, securities fraud, antitrust, and loitering. In addition to his Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law webcomic, he also teaches the "Hope for Hopeless Cases" series for West LegalEdCenter, and is training his kids to be rock stars.