COURTROOM 302: A Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse

Steve Bogira, Author . Knopf $25 (404p) ISBN 978-0-679-43252-4

Chicago-based journalist Bogira's first book is an outstanding journey inside the American criminal justice system that nicely complements last year's Blue Blood , Edward Conlon's inside look at the life of a big-city cop. Like that instant classic, this book—centered on the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, "the biggest and busiest felony courthouse in the nation"—punctures the popular myths engendered by TV shows like Law and Order to provide a balanced view of the realities of the day-to-day, assembly-line grind that marks so much of the process from arrest to final disposition. The author's ability to gain the trust of so many different participants in the grim drama—judges, public defenders, prosecutors, court officers, prison guards and many defendants—is remarkable, and he often comes close to presenting a more complete picture of the truth of a particular crime than emerge in court in the or in the few cases that actually go to trial. Despite this access, Bogira does not gild the people he describes; even Judge Daniel Locallo, the book's central figure—whose courtroom witnesses racial violence, pathetic thievery, the abused and the mentally incompetent, and who, on balance emerges positively—is portrayed warts and all. The brilliance of Bogira's insights will lead many to hope that he will follow this debut with proposals to cure the many ills he has diagnosed. Agent, David Black. (Mar. 24)

Reviewed on: 02/14/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 401 pages - 978-0-679-75206-6
Open Ebook - 309 pages - 978-0-307-81419-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5414-0897-5
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