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Saturday, November 01, 2014

A Cinderella Affidavit by Michael Fredrickson | LibraryThing

I really liked this book.  Some reviewers have complained about the number of characters, but the book is more than a “Dick and Jane” compendium of the day’s events.  It’s a complicated story that reveals the inner workings of a law firm in addition to being a fine legal drama and mystery.  Definitely my cup of lemonade. (I don't like tea.)

A Cinderella Affidavit is one developed by narcotics officers to obtain a search warrant that isn’t exactly kosher.  It is based on the cop’s gut feeling about a house or location but may not have a snitch’s information required by a judge. Normally this wouldn’t matter, since the bad guy is caught holding the drugs which are then evidence used at trial, but since Francis Dunleavy, the cop trying to break down the door got killed, the snitch’s presence in court becomes truly important since the affidavit had described, in detail, the person who was supposed to be in the apartment at the time when Dunleavy was killed. Unfortunately the snitch in this case existed, but had made up much of the information.

The opening courtroom seen, taking some depositions, is really quite humorous.  It follows the open-ended battering down of a drug dealer’s den where a Dunlevy is shot. Michael Chen is accused of shooting the policeman through the door.  His lawyer, Sarah, files an appeal, asking for the name of the informant who the affidavit said had given police the information about when the drugs would be in the apartment. Her client doesn’t match the description given by the informant and calling him could provide exculpatory testimony. The state, naturally doesn’t want to reveal the name of the CI.  Turns out the affidavit written by the Lieutenant, a boozer just barely holding it together, had cited this particular snitch (known as IT)  in a whole daisy chain of affidavits that threaten to bring down a raft of cases.  Danny, the IT in this case, had not been Lieutenant Carvello’s snitch, but rather the dead cop’s and he is linked to the Chinatown mob that makes it imperative he not appear in court for any reason.

Matthew is Danny’s lawyer.  It so happens that Danny is IT.  What’s interesting about Matthew is that as tenacious as he is in tracking down the perpetrators (I’m trying to avoid some spoilers here) he commits multiple ethical violations and does some really stupid things. Frankly, it’s a wonder his mentor at the firm stood by him as long as he did, not to mention his girlfriend.  (An interesting aside is that the author of the book was disciplined for some ethical violations himself in his position -- irony of ironies - as general counsel to the Massachusetts Board of Overseers.)

For me, a good legal drama has to have excellent repartee  in the courtroom between the two sides (perhaps that’s why I enjoy listening to Supreme Court oral arguments.)  This book has that along with a nice touch of humor. The plot itself becomes a bit strained, but never mind. It was extremely well narrated by  Ron McLarty, one of my favorites.

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