3 out of 4 stars
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As a youngster, I was a fan of Perry Mason and his court duels. “Overruled!” and “Sustained!” quickly became my favorite interjections. Grant Justice: The Untold Story of the Finest Attorney of a Generation transported me back to those days. It’s Gardner, Grisham, A Few Good Men, and more!
Grant Burr Cooper was an outstanding lawyer of his time. The book detailed the life of Grant, from his poor childhood to his days of defending Sirhan Sirhan. Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy right after Kennedy won the California presidential primary. Grant, who met his creator in 1990, spent his 87 years wisely.
The book included several of the sensational cases that involved Grant either as prosecutor or defense counsel, and they all held me in awe. The cases had unexpected complexities, and guilt was never a given. After all, everyone should be deemed innocent until proven otherwise.
The author began the story with General Joseph Alexander Cooper, Grant's great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War. Then I met Grant’s uncle John, an excellent private legal practitioner, though his philandering ways ran counter to the morally upright image he tried to project. These two men had strong influences on Grant. However, unlike John, Grant was faithful to his marriage vows. I was amused to discover that Grant’s favorite food, jelly beans, had a lot to do with his marital happiness.
Robert Gregory Fegers, a lawyer and currently a judge, named three reasons for writing the story. It was a fulfillment of his promise to his father, R.J., himself a lawyer who aspired to write a book. The father-and-son team spent many wonderful days discussing the book that the young Fegers finished a few weeks before his father died. The book also chronicled the life of an unsung hero. Finally, the author actualized the dream of Grant’s children to immortalize their dad’s memory. My verdict: The book succeeded on all three counts.
I enjoyed attending the court hearings, seeing the bailiffs do their duties, hearing the lying witnesses stutter, and imagining the defendants sweating. I did not envy the plight of the lawyers who received hate mail for defending those crucified by public opinion. (Nowadays, they would also have to contend with bashers in social media.) Legalese was at a minimum, and the court scenes were preceded by succinct backgrounds of the cases, so it was easy to follow the proceedings. The book was a thrilling experience and well worth my time and dime.
I would have wanted to give the best rating for this masterpiece, but I could not overlook the faulty editing. Misspellings like “calvary” for “cavalry” and misused homophones like “reign in” for “rein in” were the main issues. Considering the length of close to 500 pages, the errors weren’t too many, but they constrained me to give the book 3 out of 4 stars.
While I have mighty praises for the book and its chosen subject, I wish to see the following improvements in a later edition. The photo gallery is a good inclusion, but putting the pictures in the relevant chapters would improve impact. There may be a need to shorten dialogues for some of the off-courtroom scenes to cut down on pages. A different font seems necessary to distinguish items taken from court transcripts.
Retired litigators will relive their courtroom battles with the book. I hope practicing trial lawyers will find the time to read it, too. They may learn a trick or two from Grant. Fans of legal stories, murder mysteries, and detective books are most welcome. The book has minimal cursing and no naughty scenes. Grant quotes a few Bible verses in some of his arguments, but I do not think these will bother anybody. I believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this is a book for all who want justice.
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