Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and similarly, after landing on the pile of “to read” books in my apartment, it took a while to get to. Well, I just finished the book, and liked it, learning about someone who before, I knew nothing but his name.
Interestingly, the book’s original owner appears to have been the attorney Jack Litman (click the photo to see the watermark). Litman was most famous for his defense in 1986 of “preppie killer”, Robert Chambers.
The trial put on display his “blame-the-victim” strategy, one he employed often to good effect. The former deputy homicide chief in the Manhattan DA’s office, in this case arguing that Jennifer Levin was responsible for her own death (strangulation by Chambers, during a sexual encounter in Central Park). Her bruised and battered body was found under a tree.
Everyone deserves a lawyer, even a psychopath like Chambers. Still, the defense sickened me, and I can recall that a woman who worked in the same office with me, (we were both paralegals) believed that poor Robert, the parochial-school boy, was indeed getting a raw deal (I don’t think I ever spoke with her again). Chambers of course, took a plea before the jury reached a verdict, and after serving his sentence, was re-imprisoned for narcotics sales and possesion.
I wonder if Litman was interested in Cicero because of Cicero’s career as a defense attorney in ancient Rome. Those trials established him as the most skilled orator in the history of the Republic. Cicero’s death, by order of Marc Antony, (along with the suicide of Cato), are seen as the events that signalled the end of the Republic.
Litman, lived on the Upper West Side, and died last year, after a long battle with lymphoma. In its obituary, the Times wrote,
While his cerebral approach to his cases seemed almost mathematical, Mr. Litman insisted that it was his love of literature, psychoanalysis and French film that taught him to appeal to the psychology of the jury and put cases in narrative form.
He was admired by defense lawyers and prosecutors alike for aggressive cross-examinations and closing arguments that often had an almost novelistic sweep. His talent as an amateur actor — his favorite film was “Twelve Angry Men” and he acted in an all-lawyer stage production based on it — served him well in the courtroom."