Wednesday, March 25

12x12: Gideon's Trumpet

Gideon's Trumpet
by Anthony Lewis

This was definitely not a book I planned on reading this year - in fact, I hadn't even heard of it (cringe)! It turns out, I needed to read this novel for my Trial Advocacy class, so I decided to make it part of my project. Two birds, one stone, right? This book is a classic, especially for lawyers, because it's all about how this one man changed the law by insisting he had a right to a lawyer.

What I Loved:

  • I haven't taken Constitutional Law for a year, so it was nice to have a refresher on how the federal system works! It's pretty complex (law school is hard, who knew?), and while it's over even my head sometimes, I think this book gives a really good overview of how the system works. If you're not in law school or a lawyer, I think this book would be great to introduce you.
  • It was really inspirational - it's a true story about a man who was imprisoned in Florida, who wasn't given a lawyer at his trial even after he requested one. I think we take it for granted that every criminal defendant is entitled to a lawyer, but that wasn't the case until, literally, this case. He insisted he was entitled to one even though that's not what the law said, and the Supreme Court decided to take his case... and (spoiler!) he wins! His story is laid out in the book, and it's so inspirational!
  • It really emphasizes how important advocacy is for a lawyer. The Supreme Court may have been ready to change the law, but the lawyers on both sides of this case worked so hard! The book includes excerpts from both of their briefs, and they're both SO persuasive! I mean, I came in agreeing that criminal defendants were entitled to a lawyer, but reading the state's brief was a big shock, because he convinced me! That alone is so impressive.
  • The best part of the book by far is the actual oral argument. It's the easiest part to read, and after reading 200 pages of build-up, I was so ready to just find out what happened and how!

What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • To be honest, I don't know how any non-lawyer reads this book. It's not easy to read. The style is a little pretentious and complex, and certain parts of the book (like the history of Con Law) were sooo hard to get through. I kept thinking, "I already took Con Law and this is difficult for me to read." It kind of felt like reading my Con Law case book over again, and not in a good way.
  • I probably wouldn't have finished this book if it wasn't required for class.

Would I Recommend This Book?
  • It depends. Although I really liked parts of this book, I definitely wouldn't call it a "fun" read. If you're interested in Constitutional Law or like the more philisophical parts of law, you may really like this. I'm more interested in people and how Con Law affects people than how Supreme Court judges feel, so most of this book was really hard for me to get through - and I was already used to the material because of law school.

Have you ever read this book? Have you seen the movie version?

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