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Book Notes

January 2, 2014

Grisham makes civil law dramatic in new book

(Continued)

Naturally, when the kids, who are now adults, get wind of the will and the millions at stake they hire high-priced lawyers to contest the whole thing. Not only do they want the money but they (along with everyone else) wonder why their father would leave all the money to a poor African American woman. It’s hard to have sympathy for the kids since they are basically scumbags who have been estranged from their father for several years.

The black housekeeper appears to be an honest, upstanding citizen, but she is also shrouded in a bit of mystery and has a bunch of leeches for a family. Her husband is a drunk and philanderer with more vices than a Klingon. However, she appears just as puzzled as to why the father would leave his savings to her.

Most of the lawyers who appear in the novel reflect the stereotype of their profession. They are basically sharks that only care about winning and will apply any means to achieving that goal. Even though it appears the father was of sound mind and body when he wrote his new will the sharks will try to prove otherwise. Trashing the credibility and reputation of the cleaning lady is part of the process.

The education we readers receive is seeing how the judicial system works in these types of cases, at least in Mississippi. We’re talking about a civil trial here and not a criminal one. There is no quick fix unless the two sides settle and that would take away the suspense of the novel.

First, the lawyers must go through the process of discovery and taking depositions. These are often quite dull, lengthy affairs and even the lawyers sometimes fall asleep.

Following that is the selection of the jury. It sounds straightforward but is anything but. Rich law firms hire professional jury consultants who analyze every juror who might be selected. These specialists have reduced jury selection to an art form and are well compensated for what they do. It’s bizarre, unseemly, and perfectly legal. But it’s also no guarantee to work either.

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Book Notes
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