Saira Rao, Author . Grove $22 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1849-3

H ere is the legal system exposed and skewered for what it is: haplessly human. Columbia Law School grad Sheila Raj accepts a clerkship from Judge Helga Friedman of the federal court of appeals in Philadelphia, and the world appears to be at her feet. The terrain inside the courthouse turns to quicksand, however, as Sheila discovers Friedman is a “sociopathic, homicidal, bipolar jurist” who screams at, mocks and otherwise tortures her clerks. Yet Sheila and co-clerks Matthew and Evan must suffer in silence, since the world universally views Judge Friedman as a champion of liberalism. “During her tenure, Friedman had nailed cops for racial profiling, overturned a law banning pornography on First Amendment grounds, and nine out of ten times thought company executives were sexually harassing pricks. If she weren't a tyrant who racially profiled her law clerks, she'd be worth idolizing,” Sheila laments. This judicial nut job winds up the crucial member of a panel hearing a death penalty appeal that pits her against a rival judge with a dirty little secret that Sheila helps reveal. While Rao's wit shines in her debut, the former TV producer and federal appeals court clerk plays most of the characters for slapstick, which generates more smirks than laughs. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2007
Release date: 07/01/2007
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8021-4372-3
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-55584-810-1
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