Leslie Abramson's toughness started with her staring down bullies since
her turbulent childhood in Queens, NY. She spent seven years as a public
defender exposed her to an ``astonishing number . . . of remarkably stupid,
totally crazy or deplorably lazy'' judges whom she charmed and dominated
(``No one had to tell me how to take over a courtroom'').
In 1981, four years into her private practice, she represented one of
the killers in the Bob's Big Boy massacre, that year's ``crime of the century.''
Despite her ferocious defense, she lost the case--``all the way to the
death penalty.'' But from then on she was on the shortlist for high-profile
capital cases. Abramson clearly relishes describing her courtroom tactics
and behind-the-scenes maneuvers, so it is disappointing that she confines
her commentary on the Menendez trial to a summary of the facts of that
case, a few choice words for Judge Stanley Weisberg, and a plea to ``pull
the plug'' on cameras in the courtroom. Despite the surprisingly short
shrift given to the Menendez trial, a terrific introduction to criminal
defense by a master practitioner.
Most people will know Leslie Abramson as the defender of Erik Menendez
and as one of the seemingly ubiquitous commentators on the O. J. Simpson
trial. If you remember her as brash, blond, and opinionated, you'll certainly
recognize her in her 1997 autobiography 'The Defense Is Ready'. Abramson
doesn't try for sensationalism, she is still passionate about her clients
in general and Erik Menendez in particular.
Erik Menendez's defense attorney has proved why she's one of the best
in the business. For 20 years predating her controversial representation
of the younger Menendez brother, Abramson worked on behalf of accused baby-killers,
bank robbers, and hit men, both in private practice and for the public
defender's office in L.A. More than a collection of war stories, this book
shows how the attitudes and tactics evident in the Menendez defense informed
Abramson's work from the beginning. Her willingness to withhold judgment,
to become immersed in the life of her client, and to argue like hell--not
necessarily for exoneration but for a ``fair verdict''--are trademark Abramson
Leslie Abramson never met a felon she didn't like. . . . As one client,
a contract killer, puts it, "Leslie was so good. For a while there she
even had me believing I didn't do it." . . . Ms. Abramson has an astounding
ability to excuse the inexcusable.