Vol. 78, No. 12 December
Defense Manual, 4th ed.
By Patrick J. Devitt & L. Michael Tobin (Madison, WI: State Bar
of Wisconsin CLE Books, 2005). 869 pgs. CD-ROM forms.
$150. Order, www.wisbar.org,
Reviewed by Raj Kumar Singh
This fourth edition of the Wisconsin Criminal Defense Manual
(WCDM) is authored by content authorities L. Michael Tobin and Patrick
J. Devitt. Tobin is the director of the trial division of the State
Public Defender (SPD). Devitt is an assistant state public defender.
Together, they have 45-plus years of criminal practice with the SPD.
In the preface, the authors modestly refer to the manual as "a
collection of ideas on the practice of criminal law in Wisconsin." What
we actually have here is a comprehensive practice manual. Even the most
seasoned criminal defense practitioner would benefit from going through
this volume, regularly and in its entirety, using an organized study
regimen. At the very least, this book is a flawless reference volume and
Included in the first chapter are an extensive criminal procedure
outline and an array of checklists to help prevent malpractice.
Subsequent chapters include presentations on case organization, initial
interviews, case analysis, pretrial motions, plea negotiation, trial and
sentencing preparation, postconviction proceedings, and SPD cases. Five
appendices address SPD rules, sentencing issues, and more. Indexes
include tables of cases, statutes, regulations, and rules, and forms and
subjects listings. A CD-ROM contains forms compatible with WordPerfect
and Microsoft Word.
While this volume primarily applies to trial proceedings involving
adult defendants, much of what is offered also would apply to the
defense of nonadults. The State Bar's Appellate Practice and
Procedure in Wisconsin is an important adjunct to the WCDM and, for
practitioners representing juveniles or children, the Wisconsin
Juvenile Law Handbook also is a must-have.
The fourth edition of the Wisconsin Criminal Defense Manual
should be on the desk, not the bookshelf, of every defense attorney
practicing criminal law in Wisconsin.
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Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry
Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
By Linda Greenhouse (New York, NY: Times Books, 2005). 268
Reviewed by Margie DeWind
Many lawyers may be speculating about how the contours of U.S.
Supreme Court jurisprudence will be affected by the recent appointment
of two new justices. Observers trying to predict the court's future and
students of its past will find much of interest in Becoming Justice
Blackmun, about the late Harry Blackmun, who served on the court
from 1970 to 1994. Author Linda Greenhouse, who reports on the court for
the New York Times, makes clear that individual justices can
have a significant impact on the nature of the court's rulings but also
that the specific impact can be surprising. Greenhouse provides a unique
view of the evolution of one justice, based on her study of Blackmun's
collection of personal and official papers, which was opened to the
public in March 2004, five years after the justice's death.
Not surprisingly, a major focus in the book is abortion cases, an
area of the law with which Blackmun became associated after he authored
the decision in Roe v. Wade. Greenhouse's view of
Roe's significance to Blackmun is clear. She describes a
protest that greeted the justice's appearance at a dinner and comments,
"The rest of Harry Blackmun's life had begun." Greenhouse points out
that Roe had critics across the political spectrum. Despite the
array of criticism, or perhaps because of it, Blackmun became protective
of the decision and the rights it sought to uphold. It appears that
Blackmun initially approached abortion and Roe from the
perspective of doctors' rights, but over time he also became highly
concerned with the impact of abortion laws on women's rights.
The Roe opinion probably surprised many people, given that
Blackmun was appointed to the court by a Republican and that he had not
shown extraordinary support for women's rights in the sex discrimination
cases that had previously reached the court. But as Greenhouse's
discussion of these cases and other types of cases makes clear, Blackmun
approached issues with an open mind and a willingness to change his
The changes in Blackmun's views may have contributed to his
deteriorating relationship with Chief Justice Warren Burger. The men
became close friends when they were teenagers but ended up barely on
speaking terms. Greenhouse acknowledges the ambiguity of the evidence
about the ruptured friendship, but she suggests that ideology, thin
skins, mismatched expectations, and Burger's "dysfunctional" management
style all probably contributed to the breakup. Readers who are
interested in personalities will be intrigued by the author's discussion
of this and other aspects of Blackmun's dealings with his court
Greenhouse gleaned many memorable details from her study of
Blackmun's personal notes and correspondence, including Blackmun's
recollection of why he chose law school: "In those days, people always
said well, if you don't know what you want to do, study law because it
won't hurt you any, it'll be good in whatever you go into." Greenhouse
concludes that while law school certainly was good for what Blackmun
went into, the trajectory of Blackmun's career was not necessarily what
he wanted or expected. Nevertheless, his willingness to accept
challenges and to change are qualities that any of the high court's
members would do well to emulate.
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Advice: Questions and Answers
By Gertrude Block (Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein & Co.,
2004). 210 pgs. $59.95. Order, (800)
Reviewed by Lisa Mazzie Hatlen
Years ago, in my pre-law profession, I crafted an ad for a
consumer-friendly health library to run on the back of the local
television guide. The headline read: "If You've Got Questions, We've Got
Answers." Shortly after the ad appeared, I received an anonymous letter
in the mail, written in perfectly legible script, informing me that the
ad headline was grammatically incorrect. There was something about "If
You've Got Questions" that was not sitting well with the anonymous
writer, and properly so.
These days, America Online chirps, "You've Got Mail" (spawning a
movie of the same name), and the Milk Processor Education Program
wonders if you "got milk?" (spawning innumerable knock-offs of the
slogan, all starting with "Got"). All of which goes to prove what author
Gertrude Block says in Legal Writing Advice: Questions and
Answers: To make these phrases grammatically correct "would elevate
grammar over idiom, and idiom invariably wins that battle."
Block correctly notes that "language is a lawyer's most important
tool. In fact, some have said that it is their only tool[.]" Most
lawyers would not wonder if the heading "Defendant's Got No Case" is
grammatically correct; however, most might struggle with whether to use
insure or ensure, or that or which,
or whether it is really okay to split an infinitive. Well, if you've got
those questions, Block's got the answers.
Block's modest-sized book is a collection of her "Language Tips"
columns, which were published initially in the Florida Bar News
more than 20 years ago and have since appeared in other state bar
journals, including occasionally in the Wisconsin Lawyer. Block
has organized the book into a question and answer format with topical
chapters - Meaning, Etymology, Style, Propriety, and Grammar - and has
included an index for easy reference to a topic or word (though, sadly,
"have" and "got" are not listed). The book covers a wide range of legal
writing questions. For example, you can learn whether en banc,
in banc, and in bank all mean the same thing (they do)
and make the proper choice between "as grounds therefore" and
"as grounds therefor" (choose the latter). But the book also
covers much in addition to legal writing. It explains the vexing
who versus whom distinction and includes an entire
section on politically correct language. There's no doubt that Block
knows her stuff, and Legal Writing Advice: Questions and
Answers serves readers as a helpful reference book.
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Brown at 50: The
By Deborah L. Rhode & Charles J. Ogletree Jr., eds.
(Chicago, IL: ABA Division for Public Education, 2004). 212
pgs. $20. Order, (800) 285-2221.
Reviewed by Ann E. Rabe
Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacyis a collection of essays
regarding the legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education holding
that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." The
preface states that these essays are "an occasion to celebrate our
progress, confront our failures, and reassess our strategies." Besides
providing an interesting perspective to Brown, the book is
relatively well balanced and easy to read.
In part I, the essays describe the attorneys involved in the struggle
"to win equality by law." Charles H. Houston and Thurgood Marshall are
excellent examples of attorneys who stay the course, regardless of the
cost. Further, the late Chief Justice Earl Warren's efforts to get a
divided court to reach a unanimous decision during his first year on the
bench is an inspiring example of how the U.S. Supreme Court is intended
In part II, Brown's historical impact is evaluated. In
sometimes critical language, these essays suggest that Brown,
while promising much, has actually accomplished little. Other essays
suggest that Brown "seems more complicated and ambiguous." The
essays in part II conclude that much work is still required to fully
realize the potential of Brown.
In part III, the essays emphasize Brown's success and the
effort required to complete Brown's vision. For instance, an
essay by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer suggests that the
success of Brown was in establishing "the commitment of the
Court and the Nation to the rule of law over prejudice." However,
Brown has yet to provide "equal quality education irrespective
of race." Thus, these essays suggest that despite great progress, racial
inequalities still exist, and more work remains to be done.
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To Review a Book...
The following books are available for review.
Please request the book and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at
the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608)
Publications and videos available for review
- Elevator and Escalator Accident Reconstruction, 2d ed., by
David A. Cooper, Joel D. Feldman J.D., Ronald D. Schloss (Tucson, AZ:
Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2005). 448 pgs.
- Hero Island, by Stephen B. Wiley, J.D., poems (Largo, FL:
Oasis Publishers, 2005). 72 pgs.
- Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture, by Marc Galanter
(Madison, WI: Wisconsin Press, 2005). 430 pgs.
- Medical and Legal Aspects of Neurology, by Jeffrey Wishik
M.D., J.D. (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2005). 346
- Obtaining Discovery Abroad, 2d ed., by ABA Antitrust Law
Section (Chicago, IL: ABA Antitrust Law Section, 2005). 361 pgs.
- The Persuasive Edge, 2d ed., by Richard J. Crawford &
Charlotte A. Morris (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co.,
2005). 300 pgs.
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