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Book Reviews

Here you will find short book reviews written by reference librarians on new titles of interest available at the Alameda County Law Library.

New Title: Relentless Criminal Cross-Examination, James Publishing (2008)

In this exciting new title from James Publishing, noted criminal defense attorney Kevin Mahoney offers readers practical advice for conducting effective cross-examinations that will cast doubt on the prosecution's case against your client in the minds of the jury. Because of the high standard of proof in criminal cases, the author argues that cross-examinations present critical opportunities for defense attorneys to utilize questions and techniques that can impeach the credibility and trustworthiness of the plaintiff, law enforcement officers, and other witnesses for the prosecution, exposing ambiguities in the prosecution's case and ultimately securing an acquittal for the criminal defendant.

Mahoney devotes entire chapters to the examination of the plaintiff and different categories of prosecution witnesses typically called in criminal cases, including the arresting officer, the detective who obtained the confession, co-defendants, informants and accomplices, eyewitnesses, and expert witnesses. Each chapter contains a discussion of strategy, angles of attack, and sample cross-examination questions that can be used by defense attorneys to undermine witnesses by highlighting inconsistencies in their conduct and observations, and calling their motives into question. The author also discusses the strategic use of motions to suppress, and provides sample language for opening statements that will lay the foundation for effective cross-examinations, and closing statements that emphasize the prosecution's failure to prove their case against your client beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mahoney has created an instruction manual for achieving the defense attorney's primary objective- irreparably damaging the prosecution's case by challenging the credibility of its witnesses through effective cross-examination techniques, making it impossible for the jury to render a guilty verdict.

This guide is essential reading for any criminal defense attorney charged with this extremely difficult task.

Relentless Criminal Cross-Examination is available at the Main Library for library use only.

New Title: Scientific Evidence in California Criminal Cases, Continuing Education of the Bar, (2008)

In modern criminal proceedings, criminal attorneys and self-represented litigants must possess some degree of "scientific literacy" in order to grasp the often highly technical and obscure scientific evidence and expert testimony that is presented in court. Written by criminal attorneys, judges, and scientists, Scientific Evidence in California Criminal Cases offers practical advice for understanding, using, and challenging scientific evidence and expert testimony in criminal court.

Strategies are offered for effectively presenting and challenging specific types of scientific evidence, including forensic DNA analysis, alcohol intoxication tests, forensic toxicology reports, trace evidence and gunshot residue, and fingerprint identification reports. Guidelines are also provided for selecting, preparing, qualifying and cross-examining expert witnesses, including forensic toxicologists, mental health experts, gang experts, fingerprint examiners, forensic document examiners, forensic accountants, and professional fire investigators. This two-volume set is a must-read for individuals involved in criminal litigation.

Scientific Evidence in California Criminal Cases is available at the Main Library for in-library use only.

New Title: Exposing Deceptive Defense Doctors, James Publishing, (2009)

The author opens with a zinger, claiming that deceptive defense doctors ("Bad DMEs") display traits that may include obsessive/compulsive, narcissistic, or sociopathic tendencies. Their testimony can be neutralized partly by knowing why "Bad DMEs" behave the way they do. In a section titled, "Diagnosing the Doctor," she talks about the "hallmarks" of these various behaviors and how to expose those weaknesses to undermine the expert's credibility. Some of these "hallmarks" include arrogance, lack of empathy, and overuse of technical jargon.

The rest of the book is arranged in part by chapters on "Cross Examination" of specific diagnoses, and "Cross Examination" of different categories of experts. Chapters include the specific diagnoses of Depression, PTSD, Somatoform Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Pain, and RSD/CRPS. Categories of experts to be cross-examined include Neurologists, Orthopedists, and PMR Doctors, Radiologists, Vocational Rehabilitation Expert/Life-Care Planners, and Mental Health Experts.

Each chapter on a specific diagnosis follows much the same format- defining the disorder, specific testing procedures for each diagnosis, and treatment options. The chapters are very thorough and include extensive background information, checklists, suggested questions, and annotated lists of recommended reading. Chapters on "Cross Examination" of specialists include governing principles, common defense tactics, what to do before, during and after the deposition, and sample questions.

This book is highly recommended for those examining expert defense doctors testifying in personal injury cases.

Exposing Deceptive Defense Doctors is available at the Main Library for in-library use only.

New Title: Assisting the Limited Income Client in Family Law Cases, Harriet Buhai Center, (2008)

The most recent addition to the library's family law collection, Assisting the Limited Income Client in Family Law Cases, can help any litigant present their strongest case to a family law judge. Developed as a guide for volunteers assisting low-income clients at the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, each chapter of this loose-leaf manual offers step-by-step instructions and practical advice for completing, filing, and serving forms at different stages in a family court case. Coverage is given to service of process, dissolution proceedings, child custody, support, and visitation agreements, establishing paternity, OSCs and ex parte relief, restraining orders, and responsive pleadings. Immediately following each substantive chapter is a forms chapter that contains examples of Judicial Council forms and pleadings that have been completed by Harriett Buhai Center staff.

The task of preparing legal documents can be confusing and overwhelming for those unfamiliar with the court system, and the examples given in this book can be used as templates for correctly completing forms required by the family court. Attorneys preparing legal documents on behalf of clients will also benefit from the detailed instructions. With its logical organization and clear explanations, Assisting the Limited Income Client in Family Law Cases is an indispensible resource for anyone involved in the family court system.

Assisting the Limited Income Client in Family Law Cases is available at the Main and Branch libraries for library use only.

New Title: California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives, CEB, (2008)

The latest estate planning title from Continuing Education of the Bar, California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives is designed to help attorneys prepare their clients for future incapacity through the creation of durable powers of attorney for financial management, estate, and tax planning (DPOAs), and advance health care directives (AHCD). This work explores the functions of DPOAs and AHCDs, and the advantages and disadvantages of each device.

Featuring required clauses and complete form templates, this practice guide can assist attorneys in drafting enforceable DPOAs and AHCDs that articulate the wishes and desires of their clients concerning end of life medical care and financial management. The book also explores the unique ethical obligations of the estate planning attorney to their client. This exciting new title will prove an invaluable resource to any attorney tasked with executing a DPOA or AHCD that will effectively meet the needs of their client, gain acceptance by third parties, and survive judicial challenges.

California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives is available at the Main and Branch libraries.

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