In Approaching the Bench: Tales of a Personal Injury Lawyer, attorney Jan Weinberg shares some of his most fascinating cases from a career that has spanned decades. Beginning with stories from his time at Harvard Law School, years marked by anxiety and class absences, to his first assignment to a client while still a law student, and then being a partner in a law firm and finally practicing. on your own in Hawaii. Weinberg offers a revealing portrait not only of the clients, judges and opponents he faced in the courtroom, but also of how being a lawyer sometimes affected his personal life.
Anyone who loves good courtroom drama will find many things to enjoy in this book. There are fascinating details about how Weinberg investigates his cases and finds precedents for his arguments; there are clients more interested in flirting with him than in defending them, and there are some heartbreaking stories of clients desperately in need of someone to stand up and fight for their rights, and Weinberg was able to do it for them.
While I can’t detail every story here, I’ll briefly mention a few of my favorites. One case in which Weinberg was not involved, but which was a key case that he learned about in law school, was the hairy hand case; In this case, a doctor made a skin graft by taking skin from a patient’s chest and using it for treatment. hand: When chest hair grew on the patient’s hand, the patient was unhappy. This case is one that every good law student apparently knows about.
In Weinberg’s first case, which was assigned while he was still a law student through Harvard Legal Aid, he handled a divorce. He quickly discovered how much he still needed to learn despite his law school training. His client was getting divorced for the first time, but her friend, who accompanied her to her date with Weinberg, had been divorced three times and apparently knew more about court protocol when it came to divorce cases than he did, so she learned something. or two of her.
In another case, Weinberg was assigned to conduct an investigation in a pro bono case in which a partner represented a convicted bank robber on his appeal. The conviction was based on an identification of the client’s left elbow hanging from the window of the getaway car.
Throughout his career, Weinberg has proven to be very good at investigating his cases and preparing for trial, as well as questioning and cross-examining witnesses. As Weinberg states at one point, “So if a lawyer is unwilling to spend time after hours and on weekends thinking about cases while walking, gardening, exercising, and even performing basic bodily functions, to investigate, to question, and to be concerned, then an area of the law other than the practice of personal injury would almost certainly be a better option. ” Weinberg’s stories and results attest to the fact that he was always, like Perry Mason, trying to uncover his cases and his strategy from every possible angle.
One story that really made me admire Weinberg’s techniques in the courtroom was when he was questioning a doctor who was an expert witness at his trial. Faking a full disclosure, but really to gain the sympathy of the jury, Weinberg asked the doctor if it was true that he was a convicted felon. The man replied, “Yes, I am a convicted criminal. But can I please explain? As I told the jury, I am Hungarian. You may remember that in 1956, the Soviet Union sent tanks and troops to take our country.” . So I was a young man, and with other young people we filled Coca-Cola bottles with gasoline and put rags in them. We ran to the tanks, lit the rags, and threw the bottles under the tanks. We called ourselves ‘freedom fighters’. The Soviets called us “terrorists.” I was convicted of terrorism and spent two years in a Soviet prison in solitary confinement. “Weinberg goes on to say that the doctor” spoke in a mellifluous tone of voice, with a strong Hungarian accent. His performance was operatic. It was fascinating. He spoke directly to the juror who seemed attracted to him. his eyes when he finished his answer. It seemed that the Hungarian love dance was succeeding. “
Many other stories in the book will fascinate, amaze and entertain readers. A landmark 1996 case in which Weinberg was involved concerned a pedestrian who was struck by a driver who may have been using a cell phone. This occurred long before discussions arose about the dangers of using cell phones while driving. Ironically, twice during the trial, the driver’s cell phone rang, which only made the jury look worse. Other stories demonstrate how handwriting samples are used to determine the personalities of potential jurors, and how Weinberg has used mock jury trials to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a case before going to trial.
Approaching the bank will attract law students, lawyers, and anyone else involved with the court system or simply a fan of courtroom drama. I’m sure that after so many years of practicing law, Jan Weinberg has only shared the tip of the iceberg with the stories in this volume. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote another book one day. I’m sure the fans of this volume will appreciate it.