Streetfighter in the Courtroom

Streetfighter in the Courtroom: The People's Advocate - Charles R. Garry, Art Goldberg The title says it all. Charles Garry verbally brawled in court. He was willing to call the judge racist and the prosecutor demented. He didn’t play nice.

I imagine it was hard to remain humble if you travel the country defending Black Panthers and student protestors. Garry’s ego permeates his writing. It can be a little much at times, but it’s not like it’s unearned. He fought the status quo because, in the infamous words of Dr. Horrible, the status is not quo. Garry didn’t do it with some half-assed, self-righteous resignation that he would probably lose which is all too prevalent among activists; he was there to win. Which he often did. Impressively.

Reading as a lawyer can be cringe-worthy at times. That voice in the back of my head was constantly chirping about the objections and evidentiary rules which should have prohibited some of Garry’s proudest accomplishments. But that’s the point. He wasn’t there to play by the rules. He was there to fight. He threw dirt in eyes and kicked at knees. He fought, like the title says, as a streetfighter.


As an aside, the best quote in the entire book doesn't come from Garry or one of his clients. It comes from a radio personality quoting a sign which was on Justice Frank Murphy's desk: "All men make mistakes. Be sure your mistake is on the side of mercy." Pg. 31.