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Inside the Robe: A Judge’s Candid Tale of Criminal Justice in America
Katherine Mader. Antenna, $14.99 trade paper (370p) ISBN 979-8-5910-18566
Retired superior court judge Mader (coauthor, Perfect Crimes) offers an engrossing inside look at a year in the life of a busy L.A. criminal courtroom. In brief, diary-like entries, Mader follows defendants from preliminary hearings through their trials and sentencing, with the occasional postscript. Readers will be particularly eager to know the fates Mader decides for a repeat DUI defendant who begs for time in treatment rather than prison, a mentally ill defendant whose charge of assault is plainly wrong, and a man accused of crashing his Ferrari while evading the police who claimed he was “sleep-driving.” Throughout, Mader provides insights on several high-profile issues, including police brutality and the knotty questions that arise for prosecutors and judges in alleged date-rape cases in the #MeToo era. While Mader sheds light on the prickly dynamics between lawyers, jurors, witnesses, and defendants, her criticisms of courthouse politics often feel like payback for perceived slights and distract from the book’s larger points. Still, this is a candid and illuminating view from the bench. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 02/24/2023

Release date 01/01/2021