From Searching to Saved in America's Criminal Justice System
by Shanti Brien
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 02 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 15 Jun 2021
Shanti Brien was a practicing lawyer and a recovering NFL wife when the Department of Justice began a criminal investigation of her husband’s company. This collision of her personal and professional lives altered her view of the system she’d dedicated her life to and frames Almost Innocent, an insightful examination of the broader criminal justice system.
Detailing the stories of nine of Brien’s clients, from the obviously guilty to the surprisingly innocent, Almost Innocent candidly describes how each of Brien’s clients journeyed through the messy and tragic criminal system and touched Brien’s life, saving her from stupid mistakes, strengthening a football-ravaged marriage, and teaching her about humility, redemption, and humanity.
Almost Innocent walks the line between memoir and political commentary, crafting an intimate portrait of the criminal justice system and offering suggestions for what it could be: more fair, more humane, and more just.
“Shanti Brien asks the two urgent questions of our time: is anyone entirely innocent, and why is it so easy for us to draw lines between us and them? Almost Innocent is a deft but humble investigation into who is worthy of compassion and where justice may have lost its way.”
—Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place, Glitter and Glue, and Tell Me More
“Shanti Brien takes us on a fast-paced look at the strange and often infuriating criminal justice system where guilt or innocence doesn’t seem to matter. While reading the fascinating details of her ripped-from-the-headlines cases, I realized the rare importance of the lessons she shares about the unfairness of the legal system. I was also surprised to find myself so absorbed in the fantastic story of a young lawyer finding herself in the legal system that I devoured Almost Innocent in three sittings.”
—David Meerman Scott, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Fanocracy
“Powered by a poignant mixture of insight, intellect, and honesty, Shanti Brien takes us on an illuminating journey through the American criminal justice system, opening our minds and tugging at our heartstrings along the way. Expertly written and refreshingly confessional, Almost Innocent reveals the dark underbelly of our institutional approach to law and order, exposing a system in which guilt and innocence are often overshadowed by other forces. Amid the tragedy and the futility, Brien gives us glimpses of grace and hope that sustain our faith in humanity while making a strong case for pronounced change. And as her professional area of expertise coalesces with her personal life, Brien’s vulnerability and self-reflection—and, ultimately, her fighting spirit—take our breath away.”
—Michael Silver, acclaimed sportswriter, NFL analyst, and author of Golden Girl: How Natalie Coughlin Fought Back, Challenged Conventional Wisdom, and Became America’s Olympic Champion
“Shanti Brien’s Almost Innocent is a beautifully written memoir that shines a brilliant and authentic light on the lives of the accused and those who fight for them.”
—Julie Barton, New York Times bestselling author of Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself
“Almost Innocent is more than just an important book that will open your eyes to the justice system—it’s a page-turner! Brien shines a very particular light on the very real struggles of marriage, motherhood, work-life balance, and purpose. Through deft weaving, we come to love and understand the couple at the heart of this legal drama, while gaining deep appreciation for the dozen characters—vivid, real, and often tragic—whose stories will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Rarely does such timely and meaningful nonfiction come in such an engaging, readable package.”
—Kimberly Ford, Ph.D., author of the bestselling Hump: True Tales of Sex After Kids
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 18 members
This is a well written important book for our country at this time. The author weaves together the story of her personal and professional life in a unique way. As an attorney, she has the experience to make valid statements and offer some solutions to the sorry state of our criminal system. Geat job!
Such a well-written book exploring the criminal justice system. With the timing of it’s release, it’s bound to be a hit. I would love a podcast from the author about her stories.
I thought this book was fantastic. Shanti's writing is honestly a pleasure to read. It's clean, polished and highly articulate, but not in a way that will leave the reader feeling intellectually inadequate - quite the opposite. Shanti's words are empowering. This book took me through a range of emotions, from anger, frustration and heartache, to acceptance and a feeling of hope. I think what I enjoyed most about Shanti's story was the overwhelming feeling that she is unashamedly - human. She is openly honest, passionate, unrelentingly hard-working and courageous. She is also well aware of her short comings and mistakes. It was so refreshing. I feel like this story has made me a better person. A more compassionate, more forgiving and hopefully more courageous person. We should always stand up for what is right, no matter the odds or how hard. "I remain convinced that telling people the human story behind the label “criminal” has the power to change the world." - Shanti Brien
Almost Innocent by Shanti Brien is a fast-packed, well-written book about the criminal justice system. Brien is a practicing attorney who is married to an NFL player. One would think that navigating the criminal justice system would not be an issue for Brien; she would be adept at doing so professionally and would never need to defend herself or her husband personally. That turns out not to be the case when she finds out that the Department of Justice is conducting a criminal investigation into her husband's real estate investment company. So, this book is Brien's personal story as well as her professional one. She talks about nine of her own clients, ranging from the innocent to the guilty, and in one of those cases, talking about a serious mistake she made as an attorney and what it cost her client. It is a peek behind the scenes at the criminal justice system and what Brien shows us is not always pretty and makes you wonder whether it is possible to get a fair trial. This was a good book and I recommend it. Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. This review is being posted immediately to my GoodReads account and will be posted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble upon the book's publication.
This is Shanti Brien’s experience in the criminal justice system that she experienced beginning first as a law student, on through becoming more experienced as she became a full-fledged practicing attorney. She was also the wife of an NFL player and businessman, and eventually a mother to three children. The book recounts some of her more fascinating cases and how she dealt with them while juggling being a wife and mother, and many relocations. I found the criminal justice aspects really riveting as she kept getting such awful cases and worked so hard to try and help them somehow. These are horror stories of young people being sentenced to one or more life sentences, either wrongly, or for seemingly minor offenses. There’s just something off about each one that really requires looking into. I really enjoyed her book, sharing about her career, family, and insights. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Shanti Brien, and the publisher.
Almost Innocent candidly describes how each of Brien’s clients journeyed through the messy and tragic criminal system and touched Brien’s life, saving her from stupid mistakes, strengthening a football-ravaged marriage, and teaching her about humility, redemption, and humanity. This book is absolutely fascinating, the author has lived through so much, seen so much and been through so much that the one book just does not seem enough. I have a huge interest in criminal law and for anyone else like-minded - this is the book for you. The book was a breeze to read, the stories are gripping and at some times very emotional. As someone who lives in the UK where the death sentence and "life sentences" don't happen, it is mind-blowing to read about people receiving more than one. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would love a hard copy. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
Wow, this book I just could not put it down. I loved the mix between personal and the cases she actually worked on. The fact it was all based on true events is even better in my opinion. This book was so transparent, it gave you all the struggles Shanti and her family faced, it was raw. The beauty of the book was that when they overcome the hard times it was even more endearing because it was real life. I would highly recommend this book to anyone! It is one I’d happily pick up and read again, no doubt.
A peek into the dark side of the criminal justice system by an attorney who has witnessed it first hand. Brien pulls back the curtain and shows how much the courts are stacked against the poor or the minorities. Possibly by outright racism, a lack of funding and time, an uncaring profession, or a combination of all, the author makes a strong case that the system is broken. Good and engaging writing makes for an enjoyable, yet disturbing read.
This is a well-written book about many of the author's experiences representing clients through the process of appeals. She is candid about the facts and her feelings stemming from the court cases and her journey as a daughter, wife, mother, and professional career woman. This fast-paced narrative was engaging and held my interest so much I couldn't seem to find a good stopping point to put it down so I could sleep. The author's narrative flows well and is told in chronological order. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the nuances of the criminal justice system and the process of appeals at some of the highest levels in the court system just shy of the Supreme Court. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book to read and review. The opinions expressed here are my own honest opinions written voluntarily.
I found Almost Innocent by Shanti Brien to a very well-written book. The book weaves into a mix of her own personal experience with the criminal justice system, and that of her clients, as Shanti is an attorney and married to an NFL player who owns a real estate investment company that comes under investigation by the Department of Justice. The book discusses nine of her clients who are both innocent and guilty. I found this book to be interesting, and I would recommend it. I would like to thank you to NetGalley, Shanti Brien, and Amplify publishing for allowing me to preview this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review.
A great balance of analytical and personal experience of the criminal justice system. The author did well to cover so many different perspectives in telling what is clearly a story of great personal importance. Well written and clear in its explanation of sometimes complex issues, this is an interesting book which will appeal to many.
A really interesting and well written book inspired by the experience of Shanti Brien being a lawyer in the criminal justice system, working her way to becoming an attorney, this book tells the story of 9 different cases, with both innocent and guilty parties involved alongside some more personal, closer to home investigations.
Almost Innocent, a thought provoking real-life account of Shanti Brien in the throes of raising children whilst her husband's future (and her family’s) is on the line. I assumed this would be about one case, her husband's. But instead Shanti shared her own personal struggles growing up and entering the legal field. She connected us with felons, recounting myriad inequities within the legal field that it was hard to actually read some of it. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong race, wrong choice - all sorts of wrongs. Like Shanti, I reflected on various lucky escapes from childhood errors and bad choices. So easily, those convicts could be any one of us. A painful pill to swallow that an actual perpetrator could walk free after a short sentence and a deal when someone else is sentenced to 72 years who committed a much lesser offence. Some harsh but necessary statistics about who the legal system favours. As Shanti said: "telling people the human story behind the label "criminal" has the power to change the world", I hope it does. As I retire to my sofa with another book in hand, I will think about David Tuggle, Nick Yang and Shanti and agree we are all "broken and flawed". "Justice is finding your better self in the face of mistakes. Justice is admitting the truths about yourself - both your innocent mistakes and more malicious ones - then accepting them". We all make foolish mistakes, only some of us continue to pay the consequences. Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this thought provoking read.
Shanti Brien explores the trials and tribulations of the criminal justice system by mixing her own personal struggles with the struggles of her clients. Shanti is in the unique position of being an attorney and the wife of an accused. Throughout this book she tells the stories of her own clients as well as her own families struggle to defend her husband from charges of bid-rigging on foreclosed homes. Shanti is not only an attorney, she is an appellate attorney. This is a really difficult and unique position to discuss the criminal justice system. Shanti's whole job is to argue that someone else made a mistake or was wrong, which (needless to say) is a massive undertaking in the American legal system. I appreciated the personal touches and empathy Shanti included. She was vulnerable about what she was going through, what her family has gone through, and how her client's and their cases have impacted her both professionally and personally. She also very tactfully and gracefully included and discussed the bias and discrimination inherent in our criminal justice system.
Interesting memoir and political commentary. Definitely something different amd out of the box. Definitely worth a look! Thank you Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!
As an non-American, I am always surprised by the American judicial system when reading about it. Shanti Brien is so wise : she knows the system, how it works and how it breaks people. Being someone's last resort is a responsibility she willingly took for years. She probably never imagined having her family on the other side of the screen, being the ones who needed legal help. And she kept going with her work, her life, keeping her family together and protecting her kids from what was going on. I totally get why she had to quit this job but too bad for the innocent people who could have used her help. She is great and this testimony is as much a love letter to her family that it is a plea for a change of the American judicial system. Thank you Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange of an honest review
This book was exactly what I expected it to be. I work in this field of investigations so it was fascinating reading this story from the viewpoint not of someone who just inspected these cases but was so closely linked to the person being investigated. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in these financial crime cases.