Review: Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder

Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder by Gerry Spence
Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder by Gerry Spence
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a trial defense lawyer with decades of experience and involvement in a good deal of high-profile cases over those years, Spence has a keen eye and mind for discussing how the structure of law and power can work to systematically disenfranchise most citizens. That is the major theme throughout the book that no matter the case, the government power is exponentially greater than any human that it puts in its crosshairs. Over a discussion of a handful of his most poignant cases, Spence illustrates the ways in which government in forms of the attorneys, judges, attorney generals, and police agents at all levels of government can abuse their power on people without the means to fight back (save for, of course, Spence and his self-reported amazing lawyerly skills). At that level, the book has a very solid foot to stand on and can present extremely important arguments about the evaporation of (or maybe just the realization of the illusion of) the rights of people against the state in the US. Unfortunately, Spence doesn't try to make the case stand on its own but must--at every turn--instill flowery and disdaining language in a way that proves to tire and does harm to his overall argument. He seems to never miss an opportunity to say disparaging remarks about the individuals whom he casts as the enemy to a degree that one expects to hear the chimes of discord like a bad melodrama. Of course, for those saintly innocent folks he is defending, he can't find enough angelic ways to present them. The end result is that it increasingly becomes challenging to figure out what is dramatic flourish and what is fact, what is thoughtful argument and what is manipulative means of getting readers to once more look angrily towards representatives of the state.

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