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Leaning on the Arc: A Personal History of Criminal Defense Hardcover – April 7, 2016
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About the Author
M. Gerald Schwartzbach has been practicing trial law for more than four decades. He is listed in Best Lawyers and Who's Who in American Law―among other publications―and his work has been widely recognized and honored.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book reads easily, like a collection of wonderful short stories, each rich in its own character and detail. As a psychoanalyst and a forensic psychiatrist, this book sings to me. Read it and you will get to know with some intimacy a group of unusual people whom few of us ever encounter and most of us will not easily forget.
A riveting volume, very difficult to put down, “Leaning on the Arc” is not only an enthralling, moving memoir of a rich career. It is a very, very good read, extremely well written, and vastly better than almost any volume of this genre. The common threads that run through this memoir are GS’s ferocious belief in justice, an active conscience, a splendid intellect, a fierce, all-consuming work ethic, and superb legal skills. From his 45 year career, distinguished by a multitude of victorious cases (and some disappointments), GS takes us deep into some of his cases and puts all parties—himself, the defendants, the judges, the prosecutors, and the witnesses—under a microscope that examines their actions and strategies, and we become privy to a view of a criminal defense system seldom subjected to this type of scrutiny.
GS’s career vaulted him into the ranks of the most important, successful defense lawyers in the U.S. as he put together a string of improbable victories, including a number of cases widely deemed hopeless. From volunteering with Vista and a stint with the Legal Aid Defender Association of Detroit, GS moved to San Francisco where he worked for several non-profit legal defense organizations. He then opened his own office, and it was during this period that he finely honed his legal skills.
The ten cases presented in the memoir—in defense of the indigent, the downtrodden, the dispossessed, and the innocent—whether impoverished or wealthy-- had a profound effect on both the justice and legal defense systems. Precedents were set; age old beliefs and customs were questioned, and a gradual re-examination of the legal system occurred, as both attorneys and members of the law enforcement system and the judiciary were compelled to question, “a system that is as flawed as the human beings that control it”.
GS’s successful defenses did not produce personal riches, but did bequeath a legacy of scores of cases in which the downtrodden found a champion. His passion was for justice, not riches. Justice was achieved; riches, neither pursued nor sought, did not materialize.
Mr. Durocher, you were dead wrong.
This is the story of an extraordinary career, character, and life dedicated to service. It offers an inside-view of winning legal arguments used in high profile cases, the outcome of which are still very relevant today (e.g., death row defendant’s right to a second attorney, “battered wife syndrome” defense, justice for the innocent). It also shows a more intimate and human side of the story that we didn’t read about in the papers--for both attorney and client. The author demonstrates his depth of character through his compassion for others and his belief in a person’s innate goodness and ability to rehabilitate. Schwartzbach is definitely a guy I want on my side.
Leaning on the Arc moved me to tears at times, and inspired me step into my own greatness. I recommend this book to any attorney, law student, true crime enthusiast, or anyone interested in learning more about the criminal justice system. It’s a good one.