"READY FOR THE PEOPLE": My Most Chilling Cases as a Prosecutor

Marissa N. Batt, Author , intro. by Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Arcade $24.95 (237p) ISBN 978-1-55970-705-3

Los Angeles produces its share of horrific crimes leading to surreal trials, and in this volume, L.A. deputy DA Batt distills her 25-year career into an account of three such trials. Batt details the crimes: a vicious wilding spree, a homosexual rape and the nearly fatal beating of an unarmed man. For each instance, the author explains her techniques for interviewing the victims and the witnesses, then shows how she structures the prosecution's case for trial. Batt is a natural storyteller, with an acute eye for the revealing detail and a talent for building suspense. The characters populating the trials are vividly described, from a hardworking cop to a biased judge, or from a sleazy defense counsel to a superlative expert witness. Batt also lets her characters speak in their own voices, even when the language is raw and the subject matter repellent. Interestingly, the author did not focus solely on courtroom triumphs for the prosecution. One trial results in acquittal, and another produces a guilty verdict but a preposterously lenient sentence. Throughout these stories Batt teaches her readers about the law and its sometimes arcane procedures. The art of jury selection is addressed, along with the role of the preliminary hearing and the surprisingly complicated definition of attempted murder. The author's aim is to "shine a penetrating light into the darkest corners of the criminal justice system," an objective well served by this fast-paced and absorbing book. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
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FORMATS
Paperback - 237 pages - 978-1-55970-736-7
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-61145-213-6
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