The Appeal: Not So Appealing, or Accurate

John Grisham is out of touch.

On the Amazon webpage for John Grisham’s latest novel, The Appeal, is the following author’s letter.


If he does say so himself.

The book deals with a Mississippi judicial race, manipulated by a New York executive with the Krane Chemical Company, a corporate polluter and killer. As this excellent review in the St. Louis Post Dispatch puts it:

Corporate interests recruit an earnest lawyer to run for the Mississippi Supreme Court, so when the pollution case arrives there he will vote the right way. He’s vetted by groups with names like the Tort Reform Network and the American Family Alliance and championed by an ancient U.S. senator whose influence creeps in everywhere.

There’s so much more interesting, real-life territory to be explored in the malfeasance of the trial bar. Consider that today is the sentencing for William Lerach, who as a partner at the NYC-based Milberg-Weiss popularized the abusive class-action securities litigation. He’s now going to federal prison for a kickback scheme to solicit fake lawsuits. In a letter to the court, Lerach admits: “I did something wrong and I have to pay the price. Everybody was paying plaintiffs so they could bring their cases. I thought I had to do it, too.”

And in Grisham’s own beloved Mississippi, trial lawyer extraordinaire and political powerhouse Dickie Scruggs has been indicted for trying to bribe a judge. (Grisham has even talked about Scruggs’ problems with a reporter.) Today is the deadline for pre-trial motions for a trial set to begin in Oxford on March 31. New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and former state Auditor Steven Patterson have both pleaded guilty to related charges and are cooperating with prosecutors.

Legal corruption in Mississippi, New York, all around the country, is certainly promising subject matter for a rapidly paced mix of political and legal intrigue. But the topical legal corruption is on the side of the plaintiff’s bar. Looks like Grisham’s ideology is getting in the way of good fiction.

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