J's Reviews > The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
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Jan 09, 10

Read in December, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I accidentally stumbled across the Haller sequel -- Brass Verdict -- before I came to this, Connelly's first novel about Mickey Haller.

Haller, a self-employed crim. defense lawyer, is a dear character -- lovable in a way that Connelly's brusque, runs-deep police guy Harry Bosch is not. (plot spoiler: turns out they're half brothers, but not revealed in this book.)

Lincoln Lawyer explains court operation, trial preparation and the trial process itself (witness selection, jury selection, timing of motions and disclosure of evidence, etc. in a clear but entertaining fashion. I'm a non-lawyer, so I'm curious whether legal people think the book is realistic.

Central plot revolves around Haller having to defend a client whom, he eventually learns, is guilty of the crime at hand, and purposely selected Haller as his defense, so that Haller would be bound by client privilege from not disclosing that the client is also guilty of a prior murder (whose convicted suspect -- whom Haller had previously forced to take a plea deal involving prison time -- is innocent)

The way that Haller solves his dilemma in a just, ethical way is ingenious. He uses yet a different client in custody to pass along hearsay about the prior murder to someone else at the jail, that Haller has deduced the prosecution will summon to testify in the present trial.

It ends up, legal-wise, with Haller personally satisfied by the outcome, but sued for malpractice by both clients (the one whose prior hidden guilt comes out, even tho Haller had succeeded in getting an acquittal for the immediate murder charge; as well as the one who several years earlier had taken the plea deal -- upon Haller's flawed advice -- and was brutalized in prison, until cleared and released.

To Haller's credit, he had taken up representing the innocent client at the tail end of that investigation and could not undo what the prior counsel and the prosecution had done, in terms of following and 'proving' a false theory of the crime.

I say Haller is lovable because the book is woven through with demonstrations of his extroverted, competitive personality, which brings both opportunities and problems:

He has two very decent ex-wives who both still love him. (One works from her office as his office mgr.; the other is a prosecutor). He sometimes neglects his young daughter because of career pressures. He has a special friendship with one of his investigators. He has a "friendly" but at times contentious relationship with a colorful bail bondsmen.

Haller is smart but devious. He cares about the people in his life even as he sometimes takes them for granted. He sometimes drinks to excess, he loves baseball.

His office format is unorthodox but highly practical: He mostly uses his Lincoln vehicle (with phone, fax, internet capability) as his office. A hired driver gets him around L.A., so he can work in transit. The driver is a present or former client he can trust, who usually still owes legal fees to Haller.
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