Monday, April 5, 2010

Anatomy of a Murder

For all of you who are interested in becoming an attorney or contemplating on what type of law you'd like to practice, I highly, strongly, fervently, whoelheartedly urge you to read the best-selling novel entitled "Anatomy of a Murder."

Based on a real 1952 murder case, the author of this fictional novel is Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker, who writes under the pseudonym "Robert Traver."

This is probably one of the most eloquent pieces I've read and the story is based off of an actual case Voelker had taken on as a defense attorney in Michigan.

This ~400 page novel will seduce you into the the legal realm of verbal, tongue-in-cheek jousting; the logically perverted, and even comedic exchange of arguments, the lawyer-led investigations and quest for truth, and the witty cross-examinations are simply titillating. I guarantee you- if you have even the slightest interest in law, you'll enjoy this read. This novel does a wonderful job portraying the frustrated pursuit of a lawyer seeking justice and going through any means to attain it. "Anatomy of a Murder" does a superb job indirectly showing readers what it really means to be a good criminal lawyer. I am a firm believer in the idea that good books- be it ficiton or non-fiction- always evoke some type of emotion. You will undoubtedly lose yourself in the suspense of it all.

Below I've included some of the witty or eloquent exchanges of dialogue in the novel. I believe "Anatomy of a Murder" does an excellent job encapsulating every aspect of life including: love, jealousy, and friendship.

Read it, and tell me if it is murderously unappealing.

Some quotes from the novel:

on friendship: "Friendship itself is such a curious mixture of chemistry and propinquity, of the almost scarily fortuitous quality in kindred souls occasionally being lucky enough to find each other. "

on ego: "He wore his ego like a halo."

on crying: "There was the glitter of a coiled serpent in his eyes."

on the reality of human convictions: "Passion and human nature exceed reasoning and rational thought."

on love: "A lawyer caught in the toils of a murder case is like a man newly fallen in love: his involvement is total. All he can think about, talk about, brood about, dream about, is his case, his lovely lousy goddamn case. Whether fishing, shaving, even lying up with a dame, it is always there, the pulsing eternal insistence thump thump of his case. Alas, it is true: the lover in love and the lawyer in murder share equally one of the most exquisite, baffling, delightful, frustrating, exhilarating, fatiguing, intriguing experiences known to man. And it looked like I was rapidly falling in 'love'."

on jealousy: "I consider jealousy the most corrosive and destructive of all emotions and I long ago made up my mind that I refused to be jealous of anyone or anything. life is simply too goddamn short."

on murder trials: "I have a confession to make..I am a rabid fan of murder trials, a fan just as hopeless in my way as those hordes of panting and painted harpies out there who are jamming our sessions. I am endlessly fascinated by the raw drama of a murder trial, of the defendant fighting so inarticulately for his freedom--his is the drama of understatement---, of the opposing counsel-- those masters of overstatement, flamboyantly fighting for victory, for reputation, for more clients, for political advancement, for God knows what--, of the weathervane jury swaying this way and that, of the judge himself trying his damnedest to guess right and at the same time preserve a measure of decorum..{he paused} Yes, a murder trial is a fascinating pageant."

human communication- or lack thereof: "The lack of knowledge of people, our lack of human communication, one with the other, may be the big trouble with this old world..for lack of it our world seems to be running down and dying- we now seem fatally bent on communicating only with robot missiles loaded with cargoes of hate and ruin instead of with the human heart and its pent cargo of love. And now -- it seems almost as though a despairing God or nature or fate- call it what you will- has finally challenged mankind to open up its heart or perish. "

on trustworthy lawyers (an oxymoron): "A lawyer in court trying to win a big case is like a newspaper man sitting on top of a big scoop-- he's not to be trusted. Never. At such times a lawyer would betray his own grandmother. So help me, I've done it myself." {lol}

acting in the legal realm: "Lawyers were something like actors: their range was limited by the play; they had to take the script as they found it; they dared not change the words or tinker with the dialogue. When they did they became either ham actors, on the one hand, or else shysters."

how attorneys coach their clients before the court cross-examination: "The Lecture is an ancient device that lawyers use to coach their clients so that the client won't quite know he has been coached and his lawyer can still preserve the face-saving illusion that he hasn't done any coaching. For coaching clients, like robbing them, is not only frowned upon, it is downright unethical and bad, very bad. Hence the Lecture, is an artful device as old as the law itself and is used constantly by some of the nicest and most ethical lawyers in the land."

How/why lawyers twist and pervert what they already know to be the truth: "We lawyers quickly develop a protective scar tissue to take care of that…It is our lofty conviction, hugged so dearly to our hearts, that our cause is basically just and right and that those on the other side are just a pack of lying and guilty knaves."


~District Attorney Keshishyan :p

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