Bakersfield, California, has earned a reputation for being tough on crime. District Attorney Ed Jagels took much of the credit for the incredible conviction rates in Bakersfield courtrooms, from high-profile child molestation ring busts to cases like that of Pat Dunn, a retired high school principal who was found guilty of murdering his wife--despite a disturbing lack of evidence linking him to the crime. Mean Justice tells Dunn's story compellingly, from his childhood in Bakersfield to the trial that would put him away for life. It chronicles his solid belief in justice and authority and his gradual disenfranchisement with the system that railroaded him for reasons that could only be political.
Humes's exhaustive account also covers prosecuting attorney Ed Jagels's rise to political power and influence and the juggernaut of prosecutorial misconduct that caught many others, along with Dunn, in its fury. But it is at its core the horrifying story of an innocent man who had faith in a system that would eventually destroy him. It's not an easy story to digest, and it is apparently not an isolated incident: Humes brings up case after case where seemingly innocent people were arrested, prosecuted, ostracized, and jailed for crimes that may or may not have even occurred. Mean Justice is a gripping and fascinating book that deserves to be read on many counts. --Lisa Higgins [via]