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Trial by jury has historically been the citizenry’s protection against prosecutorial and judicial overreach. But more recently, jury trials have been disappearing, as criminal defendants in federal court are overwhelmingly pleading guilty instead of testing the legal system. In The Vanishing Trial, accomplished lawyer Robert Katzberg explores why trials have become such rarities in today’s federal courtrooms, and examines the dangerous consequences of a justice system without juries.
With reflections from his four-decade courtroom career—first prosecuting federal criminal cases in New York, and then defending high-profile cases across the country—Katzberg vividly recreates a time when trials were commonplace; when average citizens played a key role in the administration of justice; when young lawyers developed and honed significant trial skills, and veteran courtroom stars performed their craft at the highest level.
Precise, thorough, and compellingly honest, The Vanishing Trial describes the realities of a courtroom world known only to insiders, one that cannot exist without jury trials. Finally, it provides readers with a roadmap to reclaim their role in preserving justice in America.
Famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos reports that “Robert Katzberg has done a magnificent job” exposing “one of the dirty little secrets of the criminal justice system, the imminent extinction of the jury trial” in Katzberg’s revelatory new book, The Vanishing Trial.
“People often ask me what it is really like to defend high-profile cases in the courtroom. There is now an easy answer. Read The Vanishing Trial.”
--Ben Brafman, described by CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin as, “the best criminal defense lawyer in the country”
“A window into the vanishing world of the interplay between well-trained defense lawyers and the American jury. It should be read by all those who care about preserving the Founders’ vision of the American jury as a democratizing force in the law. Best of all, it reads like butter.”
--Burt Neuborne, Professor of Civil Liberties at NYU Law School, former National Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, and founding Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU
“Robert Katzberg has done a masterful job exposing one of the dirty little secrets of the criminal justice system: the imminent extinction of the jury trial.”
--Mark Geragos, famed criminal defense attorney and television legal analyst
“An entertaining, fast-paced, and instructive book by a top-flight defense lawyer . . . makes a compelling case for legal reform.”
--Daniel Capra, Professor, Fordham Law School
“Colorful incidents and anecdotes from the author’s career that effectively capture the performance art of trial lawyering . . . provocative and lively.”
"Told with an engaging voice and quick wit...a delightful, fulfilling read."
“A compelling glimpse behind the curtain of the courtroom . . . The Vanishing Trial makes a case for trials by jury.”
--Foreword Clarion Reviews