New Grisham Novel
I have not been able to read a Grisham lawyer novel since "the Runaway Jury," which was an absolutely amazing ode to the joys of jury tampering. Seldom does one see an author treat so many abuses of due process and individual rights so lovingly, all because it is OK to take away a defendant's right to a fair trial as long as the defendant is an out-of-favor corporation. (On the other hand, Grisham's "the Painted House," about growing up on a small cotton farm in the south, is wonderful).
Grisham's biases in the Runaway Jury become clearer to me now that I now he pals with Dickie Scruggs, notorious Mississippi tort lawyer who is soon to be sharing a cell next to Jeff Skilling, that is unless they can delay his investigation until Jon Edwards is attorney general.
With what might seem like startlingly bad timing, Scruggs chum/novelist (and campaign donation co-bundler, if that's the right term) John Grisham is just out with a new fiction entitled The Appeal, whose thesis, to judge by Janet Maslin's oddly favorable review in the Times, is that the real problem with the Mississippi judicial system is that salt-of-the-earth plaintiff's lawyers are hopelessly outgunned in the task of trying to get friendly figures elected to judgeships to sustain the large jury verdicts they win. One wonders whether any of Maslin's editors warned her about recent news events -- she doesn't seem aware of them -- that suggest that the direst immediate problems of the Mississippi judiciary might not relate to populist plaintiff's lawyers' being unfairly shut out of influence. Of course it's possible she's not accurately conveying the moral of Grisham's book, and if so I'm not likely to be the first to find out about it, since I've never succeeded in reading more than a few pages of that popular author's work. By the way, if you're wondering which character in the novel Grisham presents as the "hothead with a massive ego who hated to lose,” yep, it's the out-of-state defendant.
If you would prefer a novel that make villains of tort lawyers and treats Mississippi as a trial-lawyer run legal hellhole, my novel BMOC is still on sale (and actually selling pretty steadily) at Amazon.
Posted on January 29, 2008 at 07:55 AM | Permalink
I tend to agree with you about Grisham (like USA Today, fits nicely into the "junkfood for the mind" genre) and stopped reading him a long time ago. But "King of Torts" was recommended by several executives in the insurance industry as the closest representation of the trial-bar collusion and tragedies in the name of justice that goes on in mass tort cases. It was a few years ago, and as you imply, all Grisham tends to run together with time, but if I remember correctly, this book actually painted plaintiff's attys as villains.
Posted by: m.jed | Jan 29, 2008 10:40:40 AM
"that suggest that the direst immediate problems of the Mississippi judiciary" - ouch. I think I sprained some brain cells. I'm usually not a huge grammar nazi, but that's just painful.
Posted by: ErikTheRed | Jan 29, 2008 10:55:18 AM
Grisham has written several books that are far too favorable to tort plaintiff lawyers, but unless I'm mixing up various Grisham books, Runaway Jury isn't one of them. Isn't it the one where the real scheme was insider trading in the defendant's stock by the plaintiff's lawfirm? That is, they made a fortune by selling the stock short before the fixed jury came back with a verdict that was ridiculously large even if one bought all the plaintiff's claims. Then they multiplied it by buying the stock at its low point before the jury tampering was deliberately revealed and the verdict overturned. By the time the courts overcame their distaste for issuing arrest warrants for good buddies, the lawyers in charge were (or intended to be) on a plane to rejoin their stolen fortune in foreign lands with no extradition, leaving their contingency-fee clients holding the bag. That's about as unethical as a lawyer can get, and Grisham didn't whitewash it...
Posted by: markm | Feb 1, 2008 9:56:49 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.