SIDEBAR Summer 2021 - 8

by Michael Cordell
Review By Jules Mermelstein, Esq., author of
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue
ne reviewer of my novel called it a roller coaster of
twists and turns. Contempt by Michael Cordell could,
by comparison, be called an unending roller coaster of
twists and turns. Just when you think the roller coaster ride is
over, it takes another twist.
Thane Banning is a real estate attorney who played by the
rules. While playing by the rules, he was convicted of a murder
he didn't commit and spent five years on death row. While there,
he used the law library to study criminal law and found what
many call a loophole, but what those who practice criminal law
know to be a violation of Constitutional due process rights.
Thane gets himself freed from prison.
Although given his old job back, he finds that most people
still consider him a murderer. The only point I was curious
about, not addressed throughout the novel, is how Thane kept
his license to practice law after having been convicted of murder.
That, however, did not distract my extreme enjoyment in
reading this novel.
Shortly after his release, a career burglar Thane served with is
charged with murder. This burglar insists Thane represent him
even though Thane is not a criminal attorney. Thane knows this
burglar would never murder anyone and agrees to represent him.
As a result, he had to give up his lucrative job at the real estate
firm and open an office in a much less desirable part of town.
Fans of my novel's main character, Joshua Frankel, will
recognize the dilemma Thane faces. Does Thane pursue justice
or follow the rules? And does the reader know all of the rules
Thane has to decide to follow or not? This book is written
mostly in the third person, so we are not actually inside the
characters' heads at all times.
From a law practice view, this book also demonstrates how
important it is for attorneys to visit all locations related to their
case, as they might observe something, not in either their client's
or the police department's narrative.
In addition to Thane, there are many interesting characters.
Hannah Banning is the devoted wife of Thane who believed
Thane was innocent. But after a few years of visiting him in
prison, Thane insisted she gets on with her life as he didn't
believe he was getting out. Once he gets out, she has trouble
dealing with the way he's changed during five years on death
Bradford Stone is the district attorney, also pursuing justice
in his mind even if he has to ignore the law to do it.
Gideon Spence, a fellow inmate and career criminal who is
released from prison after Thane and eventually helps Thane,
looking at evidence from a criminal's perspective.
Chuck Yoder, a sadistic prison guard, becomes a witness in
the case Thane defends.
Joseph Crowell, Thane's past and future boss at the real estate
firm, also believed in Thane's innocence.
Russell McCoy, the father of the woman Thane was accused
of murdering. McCoy is convinced Thane was released because
of a loophole and promises Thane that McCoy will kill him
unless he gets evidence someone else was responsible.
Scotty " Skunk " Burns, the defendant in the case Thane takes.
Despite Thane being a real estate lawyer, Skunk insists that
Thane represent him in the murder case since he cannot afford
a private attorney and the Public Defender's Office was too
overwhelmed with cases to research his case well. Since Thane
represented himself and got out of prison, Skunk is convinced
he has the skills to defend him.
Detective Gruber, the detective who arrested Thane and
becomes the victim in the murder case Thane defends.
Kristin Peterson, an insistent third-year law student, 12th
in her class at USC, pushes her way into helping Thane with
his murder case, insisting he needed her since he doesn't know
anything about criminal law. Throughout the case, Kristin learns
how the law is practiced as opposed to law school law.
I highly recommend this book to all. I even recommended it
to my wife, who is not an attorney. I have become a big fan of
Michael Cordell and will no doubt be reading more of his novels
in the future. After all, he wrote a novel with a main character
who pursues justice even if he has to violate the law to get it.

SIDEBAR Summer 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Summer 2021

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