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Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion    by Kendall Coffey order for
Spinning the Law
by Kendall Coffey
Order:  USA  Can
Prometheus, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Kendall Coffey's Spinning the Law presents a whole new aspect of court cases, to which I had never really given much thought. According to the author, the Court of Public Opinion counts as much as the jury's deliberations. Cases are settled in the media long before the trial. Telling the jurors not to talk, read, watch on TV anything about the case they are to decide is like blowing in the wind. With today's instant communications, this directive from a judge is hard to follow.

When my twin great-granddaughters were born in Pennsylvania, my grandson received a phone photo of the twins from his sister in Colorado! Other family members were impatiently waiting to see and hold these two little bundles and someone in Colorado saw them first. So how can one not be aware of the world out there?

I think the only answer to no publicity is to commit a lesser crime and/or avoid celebrity status. Then no one will care except the accused.

Coffey cites many cases, such as the one involving athlete Michael Vick and his dog fighting venture. Or the high profile O.J Simpson not guilty verdict. Martha Stewart received enough publicity to destroy her commercial empire. However, she was the exception to the rule. Found guilty, she received her sentence with dignity and emerged from her time incarcerated with her life intact.

This intriguing book holds many tips, including how to hire a lawyer and how to handle one's self in a courtroom. And, above all, it advises not to give an interview before the trial. Instructive advice for the plaintiff is not to file a civil suit until after the criminal case has been adjudicated.

Kendall Coffey, a former US Attorney who headed the largest prosecutor's office in America, is a partner now in a law firm and a media commentator in high-profile cases, appearing in too-numerous-to-mention TV shows. He is knowledgeable about all aspects of the law and shares his beliefs with his readers. He has written a most fascinating book.

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