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Defending the Guilty: Truth and Lies in the Criminal Courtroom

4.2 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books; Unabridged edition (1 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1445006375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1445006376
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,176,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Terrific. McBride details his own cock-ups and disasters with the relish of the born humorous writer. Very funny (Daily Mail)

Expert, authoritative, hilarious - an insider's fearless account of life at the criminal bar (Craig Raine TLS, Books of the Year)

Gripping, engaging, compelling. The real life of criminal barristers is expertly caught (Literary Review)

An excellent blend of anecdote and more serious discussion (Tom Bingham, author of The Rule of Law)

Shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Award for Non-Fiction 2010 (CWA Judges) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction 2010
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a fantastic "Legal Babylon" style exposee of the life of a criminal barrister. Peppered with just the right amount of interesting facts about the history of English law and how today's judicial system came about, it's a lively read. Best of all, it's actually well written, which you don't often get with this kind of book. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very readable book - I read it in two days, and would have got through it at one sitting had I had the time. The various stories are interesting and often funny, but the book also has a serious side. I liked the way McBride uses the case histories as illustrations to draw more general conclusions. One example is the case of Mr V, wrongly arrested for (at that time, 2005) a non-arrestable offence, from which McBride goes on to point out that the distinction between arrestable and non-arrestable offences has since been removed in the Serious and Organised Crime And Police Act of 2006, thus giving the police powers of summary arrest for any offence. The same chapter (21) also points out a number of "reforms" introduced begiining with the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that have tipped the balance against the defence and in favour of the state or the police. What is surprising to me is that these changes were enacted by a centrist government headed by a prime minister who had himself been a barrister and who had many lawyer colleagues among his MPs. Perhaps legal professionals are not the best people to make laws!
On DNA evidence, there is a good explanation of its limitations: this explanation is clear even to a layman without knowledge of statistics. DNA is a powerful investigative tool, but not however infallible. The discussions of the limitations of CCTV evidence and witness visual identification evidence(backed up in both cases by examples from the courts) also give the reader pause for thought.
All- in-all the book is entertaining, informative and thought-provoking.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely a brilliant book. Reading it made me reflect on my role within the criminal justice system and how sad it is that the profession of criminal barristers is dying out due to all the cuts in legal aid.

Mr. McBride paints a true picture of the criminal justice system with the history of how it evolved. Very easy to eat and very funny. At times I could not stop laughing and as a criminal solicitor myself, I felt empathy for him.

One reviewer pointed out that most laws are made by lawyers but it is one thing to be a lawyer and it is another to be a CRIMINAL lawyer. Usually criminal lawyers do not sit in the parliament and our former prime minster did not practise criminal law. Nor does cherie blair to a certain extent. Therefore they do not understand what it is like to work within the criminal justice system.

Now another reviewer said it is not right that Mr. McBride points out the short comings of the prison and the jury systems but does not recommend any alternative systems. Well, thats because it is difficult to. The jury system is not perfect but it is the best one we have. Mr. McBride certainly points out the positive aspects of the jury system (it is certainly better than what we have at the magistrates' courts). Also the prison system does not reform an offender but that is usually not the public's objective. Prison is seen as a place of punishment and when someone is in prison it protects the public's safety.

I know how frustrating it is to work with the short comings of the government bodies. The worst one by far is the crown prosecution service. They do not look at magistrates court cases until the day before the trial and the crown court cases never gets properly reviewed until the week before.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a semi-autobiographical account of a British barrister learning the ropes. With a writer whose job it is to be eloquent, it is not surprising that it is a very well written and thoroughly entertaining account. It gives a little of the history of English law as well as a behind the scenes look at the process that exist in the legal system.

It is at times very funny and to McBride's credit the serious or disturbing crimes he writes about are never explored in a mawkish or salacious way. His comments on the shortfalls of the judicial system are however a little frustrating. OK so prison doesn't work that well and the jury system is flawed but if he is going to be so honest about these areas it seems a little odd that he makes no case for any substitute. It's easy to destroy, much harder to build and it would have been just as interesting to hear an insiders view on how to get better at "justice" as hearing how the system fails.

This is however a fairly minor point and if you want an intelligent and thoroughly fascinating read on the world of law then this is a great book to pick up.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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Format: Paperback
Clear and well written insider knowledge of the English Bar. I managed to finish it in two days so it keeps your interest. Its written in a style more atuned to the outsider to digest but don't let that put you off if you see yourself as a plucky amateur.

Plenty of eye opening situations and case examples. I particularly enjoyed the story running through the chapters about his daily life as a 'pupil'. If you have an 'interest' in the law or on how 'justice' is delivered on a day to day basis or would like to understand how the whole system is a lot more of a conveyor belt than an art form then this is good place to start.
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