The title of criminal defense lawyer Roy Black’s first book alludes to the renowned legal dictionary, and the reference is appropriate: Black is beyond a reasonable doubt the definitive defense attorney. Considered among the best advocates for the accused in the United States, he has had clients that included William Kennedy Smith and Marv Albert. But in Black’s Law, the former public defender and law professor recounts the strategies and tactics he employed to safeguard the freedom of four lesser-known clients: Luis Alvarez, Thomas Knight, Steve Hicks, and Fred De La Mata.
In “Alvarez” (Black refers to each of his four examples by case name), a Miami cop is put on trial for shooting an African American suspect with no previous criminal record, pitting Black against the office of Dade County state attorney Janet Reno, who desperately needed a conviction to avert widespread race riots. In “Knight,” Black must convince a federal appeals court that an insane multiple killer was condemned to death row by the bad lawyering of his first four attorneys. In “Hicks,” a young bartender finds himself charged with murder after his girlfriend dies of an accidental gunshot wound; Black defends him against incriminating circumstantial evidence and the cluster-bungling efforts of police investigators. And in “De La Mata,” Black takes a break from the murder trials to work on a money-laundering case.
The aforementioned Black’s Law Dictionary defines a defense attorney as “a [l]awyer who files appearance in behalf of defendant and represents such in civil or criminal case,” but Roy Black’s account underscores how such technical definitions fail to convey the essential role defense attorneys play in our adversarial system of justice. Black’s Law is not just about four individual defendants, it’s about the rights to which all defendants are entitled–and for which people like Roy Black fight–in a court of law. –Tim Hogan
September 4, 2007
Black’s Law: A clinic on strategies and tactics
By Walter Benenati (Fort Lauderdale, FL United States)
Roy Black once said, “The kind of cases I handle are the ones people can’t afford to lose.” On the eve of yet another notorious public figure facing penitentiary chances, Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis made the call, “Get me Roy Black.” And why not? Mr. Black has attained legendary status as one of the top legal minds in the country. From his days battling in the PD’s office in Miami to his rise as Miami’s `super lawyer,’ Black’s deft handling of the media makes for a formidable one-two punch when you combine his PR skills with his presence in the courtroom. Francis knows he’s in for the fight of his life. The government has tattooed crosshairs on his back for the last ten years, and he knows he’s facing the end of his rope. Who wouldn’t hire Black?
This book encapsulates all that is Roy Black. Delivering gut-wrenching stories of trench warfare, he said, “My cases are World War III to me. I don’t take prisoners when I go to trial.” Attorneys make their living through words. And this book is a testament to that. Written for the everyday man, the style of writing is brief, easy to read, and compelling. It’s as if Black is masterfully telling his stories to a jury. And once again, he wins them over. Highly recommended.
From Booklist January 1, 1999
Defense counsel to the celebrities, Black offers a surprise: his four clients whose plights are profiled here are not celebrities. Out of their ordinariness grows Black’s belief in his role as a last-ditch bulwark against the prosecution’s greater resources. All four cases hail from south Florida; the first concerns a cop who became a lightning rod for urban grievances. Officer Alvarez shot and killed a man who the policeman said was going for a gun. Miami’s Overtown riot of 1982 ensued . . .
From Kirkus Reviews
Criminal lawyers will find plenty of useful trial tips here. Layfolk will simply be mesmerized by this inside-the-courtroom legal primer. The hyperbole of the subtitle aside, Black’s Law is a remarkably down-to-earth, insightful book about the difference one dedicated attorney can make in a criminal-justice system that is deeply flawed. True, Black has represented the elite: he counts William Kennedy Smith and sportscaster Marv Albert among his former clients. But he has also staked much of his . . .
Roy Black is one of America’s toughest and shrewdest criminal defense lawyers. Whether defending a wealthy celebrity or an indigent death row inmate, Black sees his job as doing whatever it takes to get his clients fair trials. In Black’s Law, he takes us behind the scenes of four difficult and dangerous cases to reveal the legal strategies, no-holds-barred tactics and courtroom psychology he used to make sure his clients received every protection promised by the law.
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