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Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinionby Kendall Coffey
Synopses & Reviews
High-profile courtroom dramas fascinate our nation, especially when they concern the rich and famous. And while the American public has come to realize that the spin factor is a prime ingredient in political tactics and marketing campaigns, many are unaware of the strategies for shaping public opinion when it comes to major courtroom battles. This behind-the-scenes analysis of media strategies presents an intriguing, often entertaining curriculum that they do not teach in law school or journalism classes. As the lead counsel in some of the countrys most notable cases and a savvy legal commentator with hundreds of television appearances, this author brings a distinctive combination of depth as a legal practitioner and experience as a media analyst to this insightful, provocative, and practical book. He begins with an historic election fraud trial, relying on his personal experience with the basics of law spin. He guides the reader through an engrossing tour of spinning cases through the ages—including Socrates and Joan of Arc, as well as the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping. Modern cases include the O. J. Simpson trial, the authors own experiences in the Elian Gonzalez controversy—and his thoughts on the possible overwhelming effect that case had on Florida in the controversial 2000 presidential election. The author also examines some of the most famous cases of recent times, including those of Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson, Gordon "Scooter" Libby, and impeached former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Along the way, the author exposes many of the myths associated with the law, debunking assumptions about legal concepts ranging from circumstantial evidence and cooperating witnesses to so-called prosecutors vendettas. The author's many entertaining examples and explanations make this book ideal reading for everyone fascinated by celebrity legal problems but must reading for lawyers, public relations professionals, journalists, and media students.
"Coffey is a former U.S. attorney who now plies the airwaves (he has appeared on the Today show, Larry King Live, among others), offering commentary on high-profile and sensational legal cases. As U.S. attorney in Florida, he was involved in such cases himself: the Elian Gonzalez case and the 2000 presidential recount. Now he calls on his experience to deconstruct the art and theory of media manipulation in this candid, and cynical, look at how lawyers use the media to shape public perceptions of their clients including Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, and O.J. Simpson. His modus operandi is to give a short example of a media ploy, such as the decision to put Kobe Bryant's alleged victim's sexual history in play, and to follow the example with a pithy 'Spinning Lesson' such as 'Questions with shock value have news value.' Coffey is knowledgeable about the nuances of spin, but his flippant style, although often entertaining, can be out of sync with the sordid cases and the often offensive and borderline ethical behavior of the spinners. Coffey ends with a sentence championing the virtues of the Constitution. It might just be spin. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
Coffey, a legal commentator and former US attorney, analyzes media strategies used in a variety of cases from the past and present, from Socrates and Joan of Arc to the trials of OJ Simpson and impeached former governor Rod Blagojevich. He details the ways that lawyers spin high-profile cases like the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Elian Gonzalez controversy (which he was involved in), and those of Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson, and Gordon "Scooter" Libby, and how they shape public opinion about them, as well as lessons learned by the lawyers involved. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A behind-the-scenes analysis of media strategies not taught in law school or journalism classes, this collection of entertaining examples and explanations make for ideal reading for everyone fascinated by celebrity legal problems.
About the Author
Kendall Coffey (Miami, FL), a former U.S. Attorney who headed up the largest federal prosecutors office in America, is the founding member of and a partner at Coffey Burlington, PL. Following his service as a U.S. Attorney, he was closely involved with the Elian Gonzalez case and the 2000 presidential election recount. A leading media commentator on high-profile cases, he has appeared on the Today show, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360, HLN, and numerous other nationally televised programs.
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