Trial & Error by Arthur W. Campbell

Trial & Error
The Education of a Freedom Lawyer
Volume One: For the Defense

by Arthur W. Campbell

Published by Poetic Matrix Press
118 pages, Price $16.50
ISBN 978-0-9789597-4-6

The Book

"Art Campbell provides us with brilliant flashes of insight into the mysterious workings of the legal system. His prose poems are heart-wrenching, powerful, compelling. As an insider, Campbell is in a unique position to provide vivid glimpses at the colorful characters on both sides of the law. His prose poems are full of compassion and a generosity of spirit. In sharing with us his ‘tales from the trenches,' he reveals the heart and soul of a young trial lawyer."
— Nancy Kim, lawyer and author of critically acclaimed novel, Chimhominey's Secret.

Nominated for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards 2007

Proceeds from the sale of Trial & Error will be donated to the Innocence Project at California Western School of Law San Diego, California.


Read reviews by Pat Browne, Christopher N. Green and Thomas Larson on

Law Student Reviews of Trial & Error

From Trial & Error:

The Weird Case

In law the right answer usually depends on putting the right question.
— Felix Frankfurter

What can you do with an unlawful pistol-discharge case when your client is a marshal who confessed he'd shot his gun for kicks? In this case the clue to stay alert was signaled by my client's name: Warren B. Weird.

At 4 a.m. two cruiser cops heard a gunshot, saw a speeding car, and chased Weird through a "high-crime area," cop code for most of Washington, D.C. When they stopped and questioned him he candidly replied he fired at a wall for fun. They seized him and his smoking gun.

With a potential jail sentence of one year, the accusation seemed an easy prosecution win, given gunshots, pistol, and a full confession on the spot.

"It was a stupid thing to do, Mr. Campbell, but it was dark, and no one was around. I shot inside a vacant lot. I'd been to a party and just learned my pregnant sister's going to give her kid my name."

Warren, handsome, slim, well dressed was twenty-nine, living with his wife and two sons in a deeply mortgaged home. His prior Air Force record was exemplary, as were evals as a deputy U.S. Marshal. If found guilty Weird would lose his job; any jail time would doom his house and wreck his family.

How could I fulfill my oath to "render vigorous defense" against a slam-dunk prosecution case? Even swapping Warren's guilty plea for probation would cost his job, a prosecution offer he refused to buy.

(Find out how this and many other cases turned out in this unique look at the law through the eyes of a young lawyer deeply concerned with freedom, justice and how to put it down with the voice of a poet.)

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