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In The Interest Of Justice

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Despite what the subtitle says, most of the high-profile cases that draw Seidemann's focus are from the last quarter-century (a much shorter span than that covered in another volume of closing arguments, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down by Michael Lief and Mitchell Caldwell, Forecasts, Aug. 23). The usual suspects (so to speak) are here: Johnnie Cochran's summation in O.J. Simpson's criminal trial, the prosecutors' opening statements in the cases of Adolf Eichmann and Timothy McVeigh. Seidemann, an assistant DA in New York City for over two decades, also offers three cases in which defendants represented themselves, including accused al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, though these and other cases (Martha Stewart, Marv Albert) seem included more for their notoriety than for the quality of the prose or legal arguments. But then there is William Jennings Bryan's eloquent, if debatable summation in the Scopes trial, proclaiming the amorality, if not the immorality, of science. Seidemann does achieve his two goals: to entertain the reader with legal drama and to remind the reader of some important details-that O.J., for instance, won his criminal case but lost in the civil suit. Seidemann's greatest service is to provide brief but thorough annotations of the cases, in which he considers some of the reasons behind an argument's success or failure. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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