Review of Kidnapped by a client: The Incredible True Story of an Attorney’s Fight for Justice by Sharon R. Muse
You know how when you have a conversation with someone, and later as you reflect on what was said, you often think of all the things you should have said but didn’t? There is a lot of that in this book. That’s not a criticism. It’s an observation.
In telling her story, the author dissected her case in minute detail. In the process, she uncovered numerous things that she should have or would have done differently. The same is true with her encounters with the police, investigators, and the prosecutor. They should have done a better job collecting evidence; they should have taken photographs; they should have documented the crime scene better.
The author is also a lawyer. In recounting her kidnapping and sexual assault, she sometimes had the presence of mind to do things on her own to aid in any future criminal proceeding. Such as making sure the police took down the contact information of witnesses and having a drug test to counter statements made by her attacker.
If there is a lesson to learn from the author’s story, it is that no one is going to care more about your case than you. While it would be nice to think that everyone you encounter in the criminal justice system is professional and attentive to every detail, the truth is that more often than not, you are just one more victim in a sea of victims. Police make mistakes. Investigators overlook important clues. Prosecutors don’t always ask the right questions. It doesn’t always go down as it does on Law and Order.
The author tells of one instance where a clerical error could have resulted in her attacker being freed from prison ten years early. It is only through her persistence in following up with authorities that she was able to prevent the mistake.
My one criticism deals with the way the author decided to handle depositions and trial transcripts. Her choice was to reprint them exactly as they appeared. It would have been better to treat them as part of the narrative: The prosector turned toward the jurors; he fidgeted in his seat before answering, the judge asked the witness to speak louder, etc. It would have required more work, but the result would have made for more interesting reading (and listening). I listened to a good portion of the book. It was more than a little annoying when the narrator reverted to using Q and A when reading transcripts.
This book gives a realistic look at a criminal case from the crime, through the investigation, to the subsequent plea deals, trials, and appeals.