THE PROSECUTORS: A Year in the Life of a District Attorney's Office

Gary Delsohn, Author . Dutton $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-94712-7

In 2001, Sacramento Bee reporter Delsohn spent a year trailing after assistant district attorneys as they prosecuted some of the 13,000 felonies that occur in that city in any given year. The concept is not a new one: Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon did the same thing 15 years ago with great success in Homicide, which chronicled a year's worth of murder investigations in Baltimore. New concept or not, Delsohn does a deft job of highlighting the complexities of the cases that he encounters. As Delsohn sees it, "For all the talk prosecutors like to engage in about how their number-one priority is to seek justice, not just win trials, it's numbers—trials completed, trials won, and trials lost—that mean everything." Despite this somewhat jaded view, the half-dozen cases that Delsohn tracks during the year belie this sentiment. While the verdicts are sometimes imperfect, the overall lesson of the book is that justice is, in the end, usually done. The murder cases include a bakery robbery gone sour, a doctor who throws his young daughter to her death, a drugged wacko who videotapes himself hanging his girlfriend and a Ukrainian immigrant who murders his family. Like episodes from Law and Order, each of these cases illustrates how the tactical decisions of a murder trial play out against the backdrop of very real defendants and victims. While this volume would have been served better by less lawyer banter and a tighter focus, the perennial struggle between the DAs and defense attorneys will appeal to those junkies who can't get enough of bloody crimes and courtroom drama. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59316-011-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-59316-010-4
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-452-28554-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59316-009-8
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