BOOK REVIEW: MISTRIAL by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris


Mistrial is a searing manifesto on the ills of the criminal justice system from two of America’s most prominent defense attorneys: Mark Geragos and Pat Harris.
Mistrial features a cast of celebrity clients such as Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Winona Ryder and Chris Brown, as well as priests, arms dealers, corrupt politicians, crooked prosecutors, biased judges and a 24/7 media run amok. It is a veritable tour de force of legal scandal as well as a dramatic warning about a dysfunctional justice system.

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As the Principal with the internationally known trial lawyer firm of Geragos & Geragos, Mark Geragos has represented some of the most prominent figures in the world. His client list has included renowned Whitewater figure Susan McDougal , former Congressman Gary Condit, former first brother Roger Clinton, Academy Award-nominated actress Winona Ryder, pop star Michael Jackson, Nicole Ritchie, singer Chris Brown, hip hop stars Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and Sean “Diddy” Combs (aka Puff Daddy) and international arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian.

Geragos has regularly appeared as both guest and legal commentator on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Dateline NBC,” “Larry King Live,” “Greta Van Susteren’s On the Record,” “60 minutes,” and “48 hours,” and has lectured extensively and authored numerous articles and Law Review publications on the subject of Media and the Law.

Mark Geragos attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania as an undergraduate, and later earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School. He was born in Los Angeles.

ABOUT PAT HARRIS                      

Over the course of his thirteen years practicing law at Geragos & Geragos, Mr. Harris has served as co-counsel with Mark Geragos on numerous other high-profile matters, including the cases of Susan McDougal, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, and Barry Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson.

Working on the Susan McDougal case led Mr. Harris to write a book entitled Susan McDougal: The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk. The book spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and was praised by the New York Times book review as being “moving and compelling, composed… with dignity and compassion.” Former President Bill Clinton wrote, “Every American who loves our Constitution… should read this book.”
Mr. Harris was born in Clarksville, Arkansas. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a state finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship.

You can view their website at

Their latest book is the non-fiction crime book , Mistrial.

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Reader review . . . 
Mark Geragos and Pat Harris have been involved with some of the most famous (or perhaps infamous) trials of the past several years.  Their clients have included Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson, and Scott Petersen.  Mistrial is not only a compilation of anecdotes, but also an attempt to educate the public regarding the problems of the modern legal system.  
As a “searing manifesto”, this book falls short.  This is not a scholarly treatise on the criminal law process, but it is entertaining.  While I am not fascinated by celebrities nor do I follow famous trials (Scott Peterson, for example), the names were familiar enough to make the behind-the-scenes interesting.  I must admit to some cynicism, however; they seem to always portray their clients as misunderstood and, of course, innocent.  But then, as defense attorneys, I guess they should.
Where the book excels is in its indictment of the cable TV explosion of talking heads and courtroom cameras.  The “angry white blond women” chapter was dead-on and laugh-out-loud funny.  The authors use plain English to explain the judicial process to a general public which has, for the most part, learned about the legal system by watching television.  
The case of Will Lynch is perhaps the best example of the good that is done by defense attorneys.  The authors  explanation  of jury nullification and the part that it played in this case is educational and gives one hope for our legal system.
For anyone wanting a basic understanding of modern-day criminal law or anyone who enjoys the true-crime genre, this will be an entertaining read.
4 stars
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pump Up Your Book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”