A Great Book on Public Defenders

I’m not really into book reviews so you can rest assured this won’t be one. In fact, this is just a recommendation. If you’re looking for a fascinating book about public defenders written by an independent, objective source, get: Kevin Davis, Defending The Damned: Inside Chicago’s Cook County Public Defender’s Office, New York: Atria Books 2007.

Somewhat amazingly, this journalist/author was allowed full access to shadow defenders in the Murder Task Force unit of the office. The result is a perspective you normally couldn’t get unless you worked in a pd’s office yourself. So for those of you who have wondered what public defenders are like or how they can represent people accused of awful crimes, this has the answer.

My favorite quote is probably a line from the Author’s Note in the beginning:

Early on, one public defender told me that anyone who chooses this work has to be fearless and unconcerned about whether people like them. It’s not a job for those seeking approval. It’s a job for those willing to rattle cages, make enemies, and raise hell. By raising hell, these lawyers honor the law.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

-Zachary Cloud

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