Anyone who's ever watched Perry Mason
knows that the closing argument is a very important part of a big legal case. The closing argument is the "game point" of law, the time when lawyers pull out all the stops on the cajoling and the litigating. Michael S. Lief and his coauthors have collected the closing arguments from 10 noteworthy cases in this volume, introducing each speech with background information on the trial and commentary on the lawyer's technique. In these pages, readers get front-row seats to some of the most riveting trials in this century, including the Charles Manson murder trial, Karen Silkwood's wrongful-death suit, and the trial of the Chicago Seven.
Because the authors chose to include all the courtroom interruptions in the transcript, the Manson summation makes for especially lively reading. Manson and his codefendants repeatedly spoke out of turn during prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's statement, saying things like "You are going to be eaten up by your own lie" and "Even if I have never been in the Gotham Bank!" Bugliosi's speech is among the most eloquent in the collection, which is why it is so stunning when one of the defendants provokes him so much that he loses his cool and calls her a name that rhymes with rich.
Although the title promises the "greatest closing arguments in modern law," some of the speeches seem to have been chosen because they were connected to important cases rather than because of their own rhetorical merits. However, the cases themselves are interesting, and these transcripts bring them to life better than any summary would. This collection should be of interest to anyone in the legal profession. --Jill Marquis
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Don Franzen Los Angeles Times Book Review
Lawyers and nonlawyers will enjoy the passion and eloquence of these counselors; practitioners of law will find much to learn from them.
Henry G. Miller New York Law Journal
As much about history as advocacy.
Bruce D. Brown Legal Times
What makes Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury
enjoyable, in the end, is the variety of styles in the volume -- Spence's chatty informality; Darrow's use of the rhetorical question; Kunstler's blunt spoken tongue; Jackson's awesome solemnity....The flavor of the times comes through in the voices in the courtroom.
James C. Alvord The San Diego Union-Tribune
[The] arguments read like passionate poems, deftly crafted to challenge the mind and satisfy the soul....Masterful speeches.
Richard Roberts The Indianapolis Star
The majesty of the law stands tall in this presentation of the powerful closing arguments in ten of the most dramatic and eventful trials of modern times....Relatively few people were present for their original delivery. Now anyone can revisit them.