Vol. 84, No. 10, October 2011
By Everett Winslow Lovrien (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Inc., 2010). 485 pgs. $29.95. Order, www.iuniverse.com.
Reviewed by Theresa B. Laughlin
This book tells the story of how HIV and hepatitis became prevalent in young men who suffered from hemophilia in the 1980s and 1990s. The book is centered around Brent McCann, who was diagnosed with hemophilia as a baby, was treated for his condition with AHF concentrate, and developed and eventually died from HIV/AIDS, and others, who all received treatment at the Hemophilia Treatment Center in Portland, Oregon. The author worked as a physician at the center.
Persons with hemophilia have a deficiency of AHF (antihemophilia factor), which is necessary for blood to effectively clot. They bleed into their tissues, after an injury or spontaneously. In the past, there was no effective treatment for hemophilia, and people with the disease did not live long past childhood. While alive, they suffered from significant pain and disabilities.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new drug, AHF concentrate, became available to people with hemophilia. It was extremely effective in reducing pain and disability caused by bleeds. It also made life easier for patients, because they could infuse the concentrate at home and do so prophylactically, rather than wait for a bleed and travel the sometimes long distances to hospitals to receive treatment. Before the development of AHF concentrate, entire families of people with hemophilia often moved to be closer to treatment centers.
AHF concentrate was derived from blood from paid donors, often people who engaged in high-risk behaviors. The doctors who prescribed the concentrate and the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured it were aware that the concentrate contained the hepatitis virus but believed that the benefits of treatment with concentrate outweighed the risk of contracting hepatitis. Eventually, it also was determined that the concentrate was contaminated with the HIV virus.
This book tells the story of many young men and boys who became ill from AHF concentrate. It tells the stories of their lives with hemophilia, and it also tells of their deaths. At the end of the book, the author lists the names of 75 individuals who died from AIDS, liver failure, or cancer, all the result of the concentrate that was supposed to lengthen and improve their lives.
The author struggles with assigning blame for this tragedy. He finds three tiers of responsibility: the drug companies that had an eye toward profit; the governmental and other agencies that should have required the drug companies to manufacture a safer drug; and the doctors, who “were not as critical of the medicine they prescribed as they should have been.” He concludes that, although they did not intend the harm and are not “guilty” per se, the doctors were wrong to prescribe the medication, and he apologizes to the families of those affected by this tragedy.
The book was an enjoyable and educational read. At times, it is repetitious, and it could have benefitted from some editing. However, it is a fascinating and personal way to learn all the details of the unexpected fatal consequences of the use of AHF concentrate.
The Legal Assistant’s Complete Desk Reference: A Handbook for Paralegals and Assistants
By Ursula Furi-Perry (Chicago, IL: ABA Book Publishing, 2010). 480 pp. $199.95. Order, www.ababooks.org.
Reviewed by Nick Zales
Paralegals, also called legal assistants, provide valuable services to attorneys and clients. Attorneys delegate tasks, some routine and some complex, to paralegals so the attorneys can focus on complex and substantive work. This saves the attorney time and the client money. The range and scope of a paralegal’s duties mirror attorneys’ complex and varied practices. Having a good paralegal is like having another attorney assisting, without the cost and ego problems that can arise when attorneys work together. Ultimately, however, the lawyer is responsible for closely supervising paralegals’ work and ensuring they do not cross the ethical and professional lines of practicing law without a license.
This handbook, by a Massachusetts attorney who teaches paralegal courses, is a welcome reference guide for paralegals and attorneys. Less a traditional book and more a compilation of the author’s best articles, and examples of national models of best practices, the book is a bedrock guide on the scope of what paralegals are, what they do, and most important, what they cannot do: set legal fees, give legal advice, and present cases in court.
One of this book’s best features is its detailed explanation of the legal and ethical constraints on paralegal work. The book comprehensively explains working with attorneys in terms of legal ethics, confidentiality, and conflicts of interest. Part I, A Day in the Life of a Legal Assistant, should be mandatory reading for attorneys and paralegals. It defines the scope and nature of what paralegals are allowed to do. It focuses on a key problem, clients seeking legal advice concerning seemingly simple substantive or procedural issues.
This book does a good job explaining legal terms and providing an overview of court systems, civil and criminal procedure rules, evidence, pleadings, motions, and trial preparation. It has checklists for collecting intake information from clients in bankruptcy, business law, employment, estate planning, family law, real estate, and intellectual property cases. All the sample forms and letters in the book are also included in PDF versions in a CD-ROM. Sprinkled throughout the book are shaded boxes, which give examples of typical employers, paralegal duties and how to fulfill them, and the skills and education necessary to perform in specific legal environments.
The book’s strengths are its comprehensive explanation of what paralegals are and do and the legal and ethical constraints they face and an overview of what paralegals will encounter in a law-related workplace. Its weakness is an over-reliance on previously published articles and other resources without an in-depth explanation of how these rules and concepts apply in the real world. Overall, though, the book’s strengths far outweigh its deficiencies. If you are thinking of bringing a paralegal on board, this book will greatly benefit both you and the paralegal. At the very least, following its advice will keep you out of ethical trouble and help define the parameters of the paralegal-attorney relationship.
Lincoln’s Counsel: Lessons from America’s Most Persuasive Speaker
By Arthur L. Rizer III (Chicago, IL: ABA, 2010) 248 pgs. $34.95. Order, www.ababooks.org.
Reviewed by Annie Jay
The subtitle of Arthur Rizer’s book indicates that his goal is to provide modern attorneys and politicians with insight from President Abraham Lincoln’s legal and political careers. In a pithy 197 pages, Rizer, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, shows that thorough preparation and knowing one’s audience have won arguments for more than 150 years.
Lincoln’s Counsel includes a brief history of Lincoln’s life, from his humble roots to his 23-year legal career and through his presidency. Throughout the book, Rizer gives examples of how Lincoln’s knowledge of the law informed his arguments. As President, Lincoln told the southern states that the Constitution provided for amendments that would allow secession; it did not give the southern states the authority to leave the Union on their own.
Today’s lawyer-politicians also might see parallels between Lincoln’s position on slavery and modern politicians’ stances on abortion. As an attorney, Lincoln “understood that slavery was legally entrenched behind constitutional and historic promises.” Personally, he wrote, “I am naturally anti-slavery… and yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.”
In addition to describing Lincoln’s legal and political acumen, Rizer distills Lincoln’s philosophy into a number of lessons. Lincoln’s Counsel suggests that lawyers wishing to be great will self-teach by reading constantly; practice public speaking and storytelling; make their best arguments in the first few minutes when jurors are most alert; use the rule of three (convey brief messages that the brain finds easiest to process, understand, and recall); know when they have learned everything from a place or event and then move on; gravitate toward opportunities to meet and charm as many people as possible; recognize the importance of perseverance; and use humor to win people over, lighten up a serious courtroom, ridicule an opponent’s position, or convey a complicated legal point (while remembering that too much humor might come across as disrespectful).
Lincoln’s Counsel also functions as a useful reference book. The appendix includes the complete text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his First and Second Inaugural Addresses, his speech at Cooper Union, and the Emancipation Proclamation. At the end of each chapter, Rizer refers readers to other well-known Lincoln texts, such as Team of Rivals and Lincoln the Lawyer.
Attorneys planning a career in politics will be inspired by Lincoln, especially his early political defeats that prepared him to win the biggest verdict of all: the presidency.
John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster
By Sam Amirante & Danny Broderick (New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2011). 352 pgs. $24.95. Order, www.skyhorsepublishing.com.
Reviewed by Catherine A. Block
This book reminded me why I chose to practice primarily criminal defense. Author Sam Amirante, a criminal defense attorney, repeats the question John Wayne Gacy asked: “Sam, could you do me a favor?”
People do not like defense attorneys, until they need one (and sometimes not even then). When people ask me why I do what I do, I always say that people, whether guilty or innocent, deserve a fair trial – a fair journey through the legal process. Too many times, I have seen pro se defendants railroaded into taking a plea deal or agreeing to something they clearly do not understand.
I do not see Gacy as one of those easily manipulated defendants. However, I still believe that every person deserves a fair journey through the legal system. This is a right guaranteed to us by the Constitution and a right that all of us should hold dear, although most take it for granted.
Defending a Monster is a gripping page turner. Reading how Gacy was able to convince 33 young men to not only return with him to his house but also to allow Gacy to put them in handcuffs is a fascinating portal into the human psyche.
However, this book is truly about Amirante and how he came to grips with defending Gacy. It was his first case in private practice and consumed him for an entire year. Amirante took the lawyer’s oath to heart. Gacy had the right to a fair trial – a fair journey through the legal system. Based on Gacy’s statement and actions, there very well may have been only one place that journey was going to end, but Amirante did everything he could to ensure that on the way to the end Gacy was entitled to the rights guaranteed him by the Constitution.
John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster is a fascinating, morbid, and quick read. It also has deeper meaning for those of us who defend the accused every day.