Perhaps the Most Riveting First Chapter I Have Ever Read:

I have just finished reading the first chapter of my GW colleague Paul Butler‘s new book, Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice.

  Wow! In the first chapter, Paul details a remarkable story that he has never publicly told: That when he was a federal prosecutor at the Justice Department, in the Public Integrity Section as part of the DOJ Honors program, he himself was arrested, charged, and went to trial for simple assault in DC Superior Court thanks to a vindictive and mentally unstable neighbor and a DC cop who took the stand and lied about what he saw. Fortunately, Paul was acquitted by the jury after about 5 minutes. The government’s theory of the case completely fell apart at trial. But Paul’s retelling of the story — and his reflections on why he was arrested and why he was able to mount a successful defense — make for truly riveting reading. Perhaps part of my reaction follows from the fact that Paul has been a wonderful colleague since I joined GW in 2001, so I trust him and I have no doubt he is telling the truth. But If so, that’s only part of it: It is really a very well told story.

   In the part of the book I haven’t read yet, Paul then uses that story as a launching point to discuss his views of race in the criminal justice system, jury nullification, and the war on drugs. I assume I’ll disagree with Paul about a lot of it, as he and I come from pretty different perspectives on these issues. But for now I just wanted to flag the first chapter. Whatever your views, it really should be required reading for law students interested in the criminal justice system.