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
Available from Small Press Distribution (SPD)
"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
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 Amazon.com.
Law Student Reviews of Trial & Error
- "The book is amazing! It definitely was a page turner... The book showed the realities
of being a lawyer and the effects it can have on your life, physically and emotionally...
It was great and an eye-opener into the complicated world of criminal law...I can't
wait for a sequel!"
- "Trial & Error has re-ignited my passion for law... Every story taught
me something about criminal law. I would recommend this book to anyone considering
or enrolled in law school. The book is an exceptional account of the battles won
and lost in the world of freedom lawyering and the pursuit of justice."
- "Trial & Error is very insightful not only to criminal law but to the
world of legal practice and life. Each case captured an important lesson of being
an attorney... The book is an interesting, honest insight into the criminal law
that I've never experienced before... It has given me a much more realistic idea
of what the field of criminal law is out in the real world.
"The book provides comical relief and hope for someone with the aspiration of one
day achieving success as a trial lawyer... From the moment I picked up this book
I was immediately rejuvenated."
- "Trial & Error has shown me that rapport with clients and people in
general makes an outstanding lawyer... It also highlights mistakes made by the budding
defense attorney and what was learned from them... I too struggle with public speaking
and eloquence. Reading of the author's struggle inspired me...The cases exemplify
what is essential to becoming a successful trial lawyer."
- "After reading Trial & Error my perspective on defense attorneys has
completely changed...The book is truly inspiring and a big eye-opener... The entire
book was a learning experience... The cases all seemed to cover different moral
dilemmas... I am more inclined to become an attorney, so that I can fight injustices
such as these."
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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