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Set amidst the tumultuous 1960s, Gideon’s Children tells the story of the idealistic young men and women who staffed the newly formed and expanded Public Defender Offices after the Supreme Court’s momentous 1963 decision, which mandated the right to counsel when charged with a crime. Facing virulent bias, they summoned a warrior spirit, and like Rocky in the courtroom, bra Set amidst the tumultuous 1960s, Gideon’s Children tells the story of the idealistic young men and women who staffed the newly formed and expanded Public Defender Offices after the Supreme Court’s momentous 1963 decision, which mandated the right to counsel when charged with a crime. Facing virulent bias, they summoned a warrior spirit, and like Rocky in the courtroom, bravely led a revolution within the Criminal Justice System as part of the greater Civil Rights Movement. The spotlight focuses on five young Public Defenders fiercely battling prosecutors, cops, and judges within the raw environment of murder, rape, robbery, and drugs. As the intense drama unfolds, the novel provides a brutally realistic look into the bizarre world of criminal law--a world that lives and breathes amidst the more civilized elements of greater society. Increasingly relevant today in view of the 1984-like issues arising under the Patriot Act and highly invasive governmental spying, Gideon’s Children reminds us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But it also serves as a powerful reminder that our constitutional rights constitute the very foundation of freedom and should be cherished, nourished, and protected at all costs.


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Set amidst the tumultuous 1960s, Gideon’s Children tells the story of the idealistic young men and women who staffed the newly formed and expanded Public Defender Offices after the Supreme Court’s momentous 1963 decision, which mandated the right to counsel when charged with a crime. Facing virulent bias, they summoned a warrior spirit, and like Rocky in the courtroom, bra Set amidst the tumultuous 1960s, Gideon’s Children tells the story of the idealistic young men and women who staffed the newly formed and expanded Public Defender Offices after the Supreme Court’s momentous 1963 decision, which mandated the right to counsel when charged with a crime. Facing virulent bias, they summoned a warrior spirit, and like Rocky in the courtroom, bravely led a revolution within the Criminal Justice System as part of the greater Civil Rights Movement. The spotlight focuses on five young Public Defenders fiercely battling prosecutors, cops, and judges within the raw environment of murder, rape, robbery, and drugs. As the intense drama unfolds, the novel provides a brutally realistic look into the bizarre world of criminal law--a world that lives and breathes amidst the more civilized elements of greater society. Increasingly relevant today in view of the 1984-like issues arising under the Patriot Act and highly invasive governmental spying, Gideon’s Children reminds us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But it also serves as a powerful reminder that our constitutional rights constitute the very foundation of freedom and should be cherished, nourished, and protected at all costs.

50 review for Gideon's Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ani Elizaveta

    I recently had the pleasure of reading Howard G. Franklin’s recent debut of Gideon’s Children, a work that highlights young lawyers’ journeys as public defenders in 1960’s Los Angeles. Set against the backdrop of the 1963 Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, it offers a lens that exposes the difficulties, prejudices and unfamiliar terrains these attorneys had to forge through in order to uphold the law – not simply because it was the law but because it established a moral compass by w I recently had the pleasure of reading Howard G. Franklin’s recent debut of Gideon’s Children, a work that highlights young lawyers’ journeys as public defenders in 1960’s Los Angeles. Set against the backdrop of the 1963 Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, it offers a lens that exposes the difficulties, prejudices and unfamiliar terrains these attorneys had to forge through in order to uphold the law – not simply because it was the law but because it established a moral compass by which to give voice to the voiceless and representation to those who needed it most. Each case was a battle with words as sharp as swords, and turning the pages to learn more about the mindset of these public defenders was a worthwhile endeavor on several fronts. There are passages in the book that prove beneficial starting points for pre-law students who are curious to know what law outside of law school textbooks is like. These passages offer book gems to those interested in trial strategies and what it means to cross-examine witnesses and attend one’s first jury trial – both the emotional and psychological toil it takes on all participants and the chess-game of logic and argumentation it offers. It’s one thing to watch episodes of TV shows that deal with such notions. And it’s a completely different thing to experience the power of words detached from visual cues and instead presented through the written word. It makes you appreciate the firing squad that is the lawyer’s domain. And the protagonist’s pipe – making its presence at crucial junctions throughout the book – adds solid imagery and complements well with the ‘judicial jungle’ the public defenders find themselves in. The book is filled with descriptions of moods and musings that flow poetically and leave the reader in a dynamic environment: The writer triumphs in managing to complement the grounded, all-too-real dialogue and exchanges between characters with a touch of imaginative language that blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction. The addition of commentary about historical facts provides an additional trajectory with which the reader is able to grasp a snippet of what it was like to live and work in the midst of riots and violence – a parallel we can easily draw to today’s upheavals and social discontent. It’s good to see what motivated these defenders of the public and of the law decades ago, as some of the driving factors for those interested in this career path still ring true today. The feeling that I was left with when reading Gideon’s Children can be summed up with lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses: We are not now that strength which in old days Move earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. Hopeful that there are pre-law students who have that strong-will and yearning to search as aptly conveyed by the protagonist in Gideon’s Children. Aware that, like the protagonist, searching for one’s place in law is a process that requires evolution and one that does not end with a conferral of a JD. **This review was originally posted on the Ms.JD blog and can be found here: http://ms-jd.org/blog/article/book-re...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Al Hott

    Gideon’s Children by Howard Franklin This is quite a story as told by Mr. Franklin. Using both fiction and some very true facts he has woven an interesting tale of a group of Public Defenders in a place called Solina, California. In the summer of 1968 Matt Harris arrives in Solina to begin work as a Public Defender. Upon meeting the top Defender in the group, George Meyerstein, Harris is pumped full of Meyer’s thoughts as to their situation. Basically that situation is one of futility in that a Gideon’s Children by Howard Franklin This is quite a story as told by Mr. Franklin. Using both fiction and some very true facts he has woven an interesting tale of a group of Public Defenders in a place called Solina, California. In the summer of 1968 Matt Harris arrives in Solina to begin work as a Public Defender. Upon meeting the top Defender in the group, George Meyerstein, Harris is pumped full of Meyer’s thoughts as to their situation. Basically that situation is one of futility in that all of the cops and all of the judges in the Solina legal system are having their own way in emasculating and holding down the people of the area. Those people or at least over 70 percent of them are black, poor, and easily overpowered by the prevalent white establishment. The job of Harris and his new partners is to somehow get this rigged system changed. And as it turns out Harris becomes somewhat the leader of the charge to correction. As he quickly finds out the judicial system is overloaded with cases and the judges do everything they can to prevent any case going to trial unless they are sure the prosecution or District Attorneys will win. As quickly as he sees the problem he begins his attack. His goal is to either get acquittals or jury trials that he believes he can win. He is able to do so early on in two of his first assignments and his work propels the other Defenders to jump into using some of his tactics. All of the tactics are legal and not easily overruled by the commanding judicial powers though they try. Along the way as is true in most stories a love interest develops as Stella, a slightly older neighbor, appears and takes a liking to Harris. That liking is quickly reciprocated and they move in together to enjoy the better things of life. This is a great read about the inequalities in our court system. Franklin has presented his case extremely well.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ooms

    From the first paragraph describing So Cal as a "hellhole," Howard Franklin sets the tone for the difficult task set before his characters. Five public defenders in the 1960s take on the criminal justice system in "Solina, CA" (a place reminiscent of Watts in the day) and defend the constitutional rights of their uninitiated clients after the newly mandated Supreme Court right-to-cousel decision. The characters find their odds overwhelming and we wilt with them in the face of hostile, bigoted and From the first paragraph describing So Cal as a "hellhole," Howard Franklin sets the tone for the difficult task set before his characters. Five public defenders in the 1960s take on the criminal justice system in "Solina, CA" (a place reminiscent of Watts in the day) and defend the constitutional rights of their uninitiated clients after the newly mandated Supreme Court right-to-cousel decision. The characters find their odds overwhelming and we wilt with them in the face of hostile, bigoted and sexist judges and prosecutors. And can we talk shady officers of the "law?" Not to mention the befuddled and misled jurors in courtroom scenes. This author manages to make the saga entertaining, however. We may be discouraged by what our champions of this new justice are facing but the real-ness of their experiences out of the courtroom gives us the chance to live an era (or relive it, as the case may be.) Franklin has an amazing ability to insert us into the throes of that period's uphill struggles. We stand right beside his characters in then-time but also recognize, horrifyingly enough, the now-time similarities to some of their causes. A thoroughly engrossing read about a little-known time when justice turned a corner in our country.

  4. 5 out of 5

    M.boyd

    Gideon’s Children is the fictional story of a young attorney, Matt Harris, assigned to a small public defender’s office in the late 1960s. When Matt arrives he's never even tried a case before, but he soon finds himself fighting unethical judges, biased prosecutors, and corrupt police officers to gain some justice for his clients. This book is fiction but clearly parallels the author's own experiences as a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The author Gideon’s Children is the fictional story of a young attorney, Matt Harris, assigned to a small public defender’s office in the late 1960s. When Matt arrives he's never even tried a case before, but he soon finds himself fighting unethical judges, biased prosecutors, and corrupt police officers to gain some justice for his clients. This book is fiction but clearly parallels the author's own experiences as a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The author brings to life a period that many have argued was the most tumultuous in American history and tackles race, class, and socioeconomic issues that persist nearly 50 years later. This is an interesting read for anyone interested in criminal justice.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julienne

    I enjoyed Gideon’s Children a great deal because it worked on several levels as entertainment and historical insight. The story is set in the not too distant past, that of the civil rights movement of the late ‘60s. The 60’s are before my time but Gideon’s Children did a great job of that kind of time travel you experience with well done fiction. I reflected often on how much has changed and how much has not progressed nearly enough given the 4 decades since. The current struggle for criminal just I enjoyed Gideon’s Children a great deal because it worked on several levels as entertainment and historical insight. The story is set in the not too distant past, that of the civil rights movement of the late ‘60s. The 60’s are before my time but Gideon’s Children did a great job of that kind of time travel you experience with well done fiction. I reflected often on how much has changed and how much has not progressed nearly enough given the 4 decades since. The current struggle for criminal justice reform has been going on a long, long time. Embarrassingly long, given not only how clear the problems are but how many people are directly effected by the crooked, callous or just plain bureaucratically constipated justice system. The story is centered around a group of young lawyers who were among the first Public Defenders after the Gideon v. Wainwright decision that required states to provide legal counsel to defendants who were unable to afford their own attorneys. While the story is told in the first person by the young and feisty Matt Harris, we also get to know his fellow lawyers, many of whom I became fond of. The main characters are brothers-in-arms who truly struggle to get some scrap of justice for their clients who often have the deck stacked against them. There is an interesting underlying tension here too - the relationship between the primarily white Public Defender's office and the primarily minority clientele. We get to know the protagonist well during the course of the story - his quirks, his struggles and even his love life - all set in a cocktail sipping late Mad Men era Los Angeles. Matt is passionate, bright and surprisingly innocent at times. He remains interesting throughout. I came to think of Matt as the anti-Don Draper with his heart on his sleeve and his mouth running a mile a minute while going toe-to-toe with a callously prejudiced judge. I learned a lot about a pivotal era in history while being taken back in time to a cultural mood known previously only through family snapshots, TV and movies. Gideon’s Children takes place around the same time period as the most recent season of Mad Men but where its atmosphere is rife with insincerity, moodiness and cut throat competition, Gideon’s Children is a triumph of passion, sincerity and doing the right thing because it’s right.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Full disclosure, the author Mr. Franklin is an acquaintance of mine. He worked for several years as a Public Defender in the Los Angeles County Criminal Court system, as does his book's main character, Matt Harris. The story takes place in 1968 and 1969. The book's title is undoubtedly a reference to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 opinion granting indigent criminal defendants the right to legal counsel. Although by 1968 Gideon v. Wainwright had been the law of t Full disclosure, the author Mr. Franklin is an acquaintance of mine. He worked for several years as a Public Defender in the Los Angeles County Criminal Court system, as does his book's main character, Matt Harris. The story takes place in 1968 and 1969. The book's title is undoubtedly a reference to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, a 1963 opinion granting indigent criminal defendants the right to legal counsel. Although by 1968 Gideon v. Wainwright had been the law of the land for five years, it was the defense bar, lawyers like Harris, who were responsible for advocating the right to counsel for indigents. Franklin's experience and his writing ability carries the story through clear descriptions of procedures within the criminal justice system, and of why and how PDs like Harris had to fight to enforce their clients' rights.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Margot Mccann

    Had to force myself to finish it, it went on about 2 or 3 chapters too long. There were some interesting aspects of the story, but overall I wouldn't recommend it. Had to force myself to finish it, it went on about 2 or 3 chapters too long. There were some interesting aspects of the story, but overall I wouldn't recommend it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Injoy

    Gideon's Children by Howard G. Franklin, published by Chamberlain Press is a legal suspense book. The author worked as a public defender. I gave it four stars. Matt Harris who is a new attorney assigned to Solina Judicial District met George described as: "His rust-colored hair, curly & uncombed, hung down loosely over his narrow forehead, where below, his chiseled but strong facial features left him just short of being pretty, & radiated forth an energy that could be felt with a single glance." " Gideon's Children by Howard G. Franklin, published by Chamberlain Press is a legal suspense book. The author worked as a public defender. I gave it four stars. Matt Harris who is a new attorney assigned to Solina Judicial District met George described as: "His rust-colored hair, curly & uncombed, hung down loosely over his narrow forehead, where below, his chiseled but strong facial features left him just short of being pretty, & radiated forth an energy that could be felt with a single glance." "The words Hellhole of Southern California never left my mind as I staggered through my first full week in Solina." After a tense hearing Matt goes out for beers with his co-workers. "We laughed, & laughed, & laughed till tears formed in our eyes & our bodies shook. We laughed till we were weak, & weakened, surrendered to something undefined that spun a thin thread of unity, propelling us forward till we were lost completely in the uncontrolled pleasure of the moment." “My God, is there no end to the opportunities for violence?” I whispered into the light breeze that had suddenly surfaced, my mind’s eye racing over scenes from the race riots in Newark and Detroit to settle on the six days of hell that had exploded right next door to Solina in Watts, before bouncing back to Chicago and the Democratic Convention. Matt is working too hard & his puffy eyes betrayed his hitting the books. He is an idealistic young attorney who staffed the expanded public Defender Offices after the Supreme Court's 1963 decision that mandated the right to counsel when charged with a crime. “'Well, the truth is, I like you a lot, Matty—a real lot,' she replied, her eyes meeting mine, her voice filling with sincerity. 'You’re just such a curious mixture—so kind, and gentle, and caring, yet so intense and angry, and hard on yourself. I’ve never known anyone like you—with all those elements somehow mixed together. But the bottom line is, you’re filled with goodness and honesty—and that’s hard to find, trust me,' she finished, her smile fading slightly." I received a complimentary kindle copy from goodreads. That did not change my opinion for this review. Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Gideons-Childre...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Not sure how this ended up on mount TBR. I had thought this was a nonfiction book about public defenders, but it is a work of fiction with pretentious writing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Green

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fiction

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kent

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Docsusan

  17. 5 out of 5

    aretha johnson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Newman

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Kelemen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Howard Franklin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tae Jackson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Edward Schwarz

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim Mcgee

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary Whisner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carla

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheree Gibson

  31. 5 out of 5

    Gordon Bingham

  32. 4 out of 5

    Lori

  33. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  34. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  35. 5 out of 5

    Donna Schubert

  36. 5 out of 5

    Dad

  37. 4 out of 5

    Seanna Yeager

  38. 5 out of 5

    Vykki

  39. 4 out of 5

    DEBORAH SHAW

  40. 5 out of 5

    Anne Marie

  41. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  42. 5 out of 5

    Dalar P

  43. 4 out of 5

    Davia Taylor

  44. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  45. 5 out of 5

    Kim Hathorn

  46. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  47. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Voorhees

  48. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Peterson

  49. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Pooser

  50. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

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