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Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Story
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Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Story

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  86 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A recent study estimates that thousands of innocent people are wrongfully imprisoned each year in the United States. Some are exonerated through DNA evidence, but many more languish in prison because their convictions were based on faulty eyewitness accounts and no DNA is available. Prominent criminal lawyer and law professor Abbe Smith weaves together real life cases to s ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published July 22nd 2008)
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Oct 10, 2008 bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to bonnie by: Grandma & Grandpa
I have one set of grandparents that supports my eventual career goal of criminal defense, and one set that does not. The set that does bought me this book for my birthday and I finally got to read it.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it annoys me how all of my mentors, etc., say that there are just "defense people" and you either are one or you're not. What frustrates me about this is the fear that I'm not, that I don't have the right ethical instincts on these very complicated matters.
Feb 12, 2009 Caryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The author is a friend of one of my professors, but I didn't realize that until I was nearly done. It is a terrifying story about an innocent woman who spent 28 years in prison for a murder she did not commit.

The reason I enjoyed it was that it really explored the author's feelings about her client, about her other clients, and as much as possible, explored Patsy Kelly Jarrett's feelings about her incarceration.
Sep 12, 2008 Mazola1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abbe Smith is a criminal defense lawyer who believes in what she does, even though she never loses sight of the ethical complexities involved in defending what are mostly guilty persons.

Case of a Lifetime is the story of Smith's rare innocent clients. It recounts thestory of her decades long involvement in the case of Kelly Jarrett, who was convicted of murder based on a single eyewitness identification. That story is both sad and disturbing. Kelly was convicted as the accomplice of the actual
Nov 19, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: Joe Austin
"[D]efending the innocent is no more virtuous than defending the guilty."

As a fledgling advocate for criminal defendants, I strongly agree with Abbe's observation. As a reader of her well-crafted and sympathetic story about Patsy Kelly Jarett, I can't imagine that this would be the book to win any converts.

I was excited to see this book in a classmate's hands who suggested I read it after we had just exchanged one of Professor Smiths law review article about public defense and clinical education
Aug 05, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legal, nonfiction
Abbe is an excellent attorney who is still doing top-notch work in D.C. Her book conveys her care for her clients. And her work for this one client, a convicted woman who is probably innocent, shows her determination and creativity. Young attorneys should read this book to learn about how they should care for their clients.

Another important point in this book is the terrible path that innocent convicts must take to prove their innocence. It is harder to prove innocence after conviction than it
Rhoda Alfeche
Nov 09, 2009 Rhoda Alfeche rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I related to the part where she talked about her guilt for enjoying or even just living her life in freedom while her client served a sentence that did not fit the crime. I understand the guilt of feeling like you can't do enough or get the results quick enough to fully support others to be the best they can be. But that's the time when it's a great reminder to understand that life is a journey that even when it looks like something is standing still...that seemingly immobile aspect still manage ...more
Feb 09, 2010 Misty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book by one of clinical professors in law school. It's a fascinating case study and she thoughtfully and clearly lays out the reasons why she (and others of us) are so passionate about criminal defense work.
Aug 05, 2009 Maya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vacillated between two and three stars. I thought the discussions on ethics and lawyering were good but the storytelling parts were a little repetitive and dry. I guess that just means she's a better lawyer than writer (which is probably a good thing for her clients).
Mar 03, 2009 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abbe is awesome, and her voice really comes through in this amazing story about the injustice of our justice system.
Amanda Stempson
Jun 19, 2013 Amanda Stempson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to the criminal justice system, with both the lawyer's and the client's perspectives.
Aug 13, 2009 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for school. There were no interesting issues of law in the book--just one lawyer sensationalizing her biggest case. Honestly, I'd rather just watch The Practice.
Panayiota rated it it was ok
May 30, 2016
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Oct 03, 2014
Martha Toll
wonderful book, resonates with David Dow's autobiography of an execution
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