Cal. Litig. 2019, Volume 32, Number 2

FROM THE SECTION CHAIR Two Summer Books, a Special Birthday, and What’s Next

By Thomas Greene

Thomas Greene is a Trial Attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the 2018-2019 chair of the Litigation Section. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Antitrust Division or the Department of Justice.

I am writing this on the first day of summer. For me, this is a time of books and, more importantly, time to read them. I can recommend two that are worth checking out. The first is Preet Bharara’s "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment and the Rule of Law." I "read" this on Audible with Bharara doing the narration. The author is famously the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (2009-2017), one of the legendary prosecutorial offices in the federal system. He shares anecdotes about investigations, major cases, and the details of how justice is actually "done." But the core idea is one we can all relate to: "The law doesn’t do justice. People do."

This idea organizes Bharara comments about lawyers, judges, defendants, and cooperating witnesses. He is caring and insightful, teasing out small details that are worthy of Mario Puzo, like an FBI agent making sure that he has a takeout plate of a potential cooperator’s favorite ethnic food during debriefs on what the cooperator has seen and heard. He also captures the care that good trial lawyers use in preparing for trial, particularly how to effectively and succinctly summarize the core of a case. For example, in one complex, insider trading case, the defense theme was that the defendant made money due to the research done by its hard-working staff. The prosecution theme floated up from a witness interview, when a cooperator said, "we worked hard, but we also cheated." That theme appeared in opening and closing, and won the case.

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