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About the book:

Leslie Abramson, who gained notoriety first as Erik Menendez's trial lawyer and later as an expert commentator during ABC-TV's coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial, chronicles her life and times in this breezy and insightful memoir. The Defense Is Ready leaves the impression that Abramson is a tenacious, gritty individual who sticks to her moral guns and can't seem to understand why everyone else can't do it, too.

Abramson takes us through her childhood and early years through to law school, where she ranked at the top of her UCLA class. Admirably, she doesn't shy away from discussing the failures in her career; indeed, as a defense attorney, most of the cases she describes end up with her client going to jail. She doesn't avoid the clearly guilty, either; for Abramson, everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense, and this is her only job.

The climax of the book is the case that vaulted her to national prominence: the shotgun killings of Jose and Kitty Menendez by their sons, Lyle and Erik. The brothers' guilt was never at question, Abramson admits, but she does provide evidence of mitigating circumstances never allowed to be brought before the jury. Both brothers were sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, and Abramson spends the bulk of the book's last chapter demonstrating how the embattled judge in the case used the brothers as a convenient scapegoat to return to the good graces of the public by favoring the prosecutors and denying Abramson and her colleagues a fair chance to tell their client's side of the story. The Menendez case has been analyzed to death by now, but Abramson's integrity and poise cast the trial in a different light. --Tjames Madison

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