Posts Tagged ‘linda rocker’

“Every court case is like a small opera.” Jeff McGinnis interview in Toledo Free Press

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

jeff mcginnis on twitterSometimes an interviewer prompts thoughts you knew you had but had never quite expressed in the same way before. Jeff McGinnis, pop culture reporter for the Toledo Free Press, recently interviewed me about Blame and about why people enjoy legal thrillers:

They understand the stakes. For so many people, it is life or death. It is loss of career or opportunity. And too much of it, in my view, remains a sort of profound mystery that is highlighted only when we see incidents such as what has occurred in Ferguson, and most recently on Staten Island.

 

I think the fascination is, it is always drama. Every court case, particularly criminal cases, is like a small opera, playing out on a stage where the parts are kind of preordained, and emotions run deep and high at the same time. And the characters are usually true to form. But as we all — at least at my age — have learned from “Perry Mason,” there are often surprises.

McGinnis wondered where I got the ideas for my novels, something I haven’t mentioned on this blog before:

I always take a real case as the centerpiece that all the other action kind of revolves and evolves around. So, in Punishment, it was a pit bull case that actually transpired in my courtroom. And in Blame, it is a case that is actually occurring here in West Palm Beach as we speak.

 

The doctor who is the inspiration for the case in Blame lives near me and has become a good friend. I never imagined three and a half years later, his case would not have come to trial. But that is, in fact, true. So in some ways, I’ve cheated myself, because there are more twists and turns to come. But I’ve promised him he’ll at least get part of a chapter in the forthcoming final book, Innocence.

You can read the full interview here: “Former Ohio Judge Pens Legal Thrillers.”

And for those of you unfamiliar with the “surprise endings” on Perry Mason, this will give you a taste.

Please be reassured: my endings are much more plausible.

Birth of a Book: Blame Is Here!!

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Celebrate collage

I mean no disrespect to my male fans, but I assure you that no experience can quite equal giving birth to a child. Bringing a book into the world, as thrilling as it is, cannot compete with the moment you first look at the newly minted human being that you, with major assistance, have created.

Having said that, I am over the moon about the publication of Blame: A Casey Portman Novel. Maybe it’s the long hours and the rewrites, rewrites, rewrites that went on for months that have made for such a thrilling experience. Perhaps it’s the terrific advance reviews the book has received that have set me a-tingle. Or could it be that, unlike that life-altering birth of a child, I won’t need to change the book’s diapers, give it a midnight feeding, potty train it or try to teach it good manners before kindergarten.

In fact, that analysis is not entirely accurate. The birth of a book in today’s world is only the beginning of the journey. Blame is going to require a massive amount of post-natal nurturing. There are the book signings, ads, Facebook “boostings,” tweets, website postings, blogging . . . and it all takes time, energy and dedication. So, I guess at the end of the day, there are some similarities, but I’m still happy about the diaper thing.

I hope you’ll like this book as well as you liked Punishment. Some of your favorite characters are back and some new ones have been added.  Please remember that each book stands alone and if you have questions about the characters, go to lindarocker.com/character-bios to read more about them.

None of this happens without your support and encouragement. Thank you for cheering me on.

Linda

P.S. Blame: A Casey Portman Novel is now available on all the major sites, including Amazon and Nook in e-book and paperback.

Linda Rocker on What Goes on Behind the Scenes during a Trial (Video)

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Video Transcript

It would really be wonderful if judges lived in their own world and lawyers in their own world, defendants in their own world, and victims in their own world. That is not the way it works in the courthouse. There’s a great deal that goes on in the hallways, in the law library. And the coffee shop is often where a prosecutor may see the defense lawyer and, standing over the cream and sugar bar, say “Listen, we got to get a deal out of this case. You and I both know your guy is going down.  If you’ll give me a plea this afternoon, we don’t have to go to court. I can go out and play nine holes and everybody is happy.”  And very often — not always, but often — that’s how things work out.

Learn How Janet From The Bronx Became Judge Kanterman

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Aerial view of Miami 1950s_crJudge Kanterman is not merely Casey Portman’s boss in both Punishment and Blame. She is also Casey’s mentor and role model. Here is some of the story of how Janet Kanterman became the impressive person we meet in my novels:

There are people who say that Janet Kanterman was born wearing a judge’s robe. Her parents would probably agree. Sol and Miriam Kanterman relocated to Miami Beach when Janet was just entering junior high school. They settled in an area of low-rise apartments near the intersection of Collins Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard. It was 1956 and the post-war boom was felt everywhere in America, but nowhere more so than South Florida. Fabulous hotels lined the beach, each one offering the best in entertainment, food and accommodations. Star-gazing was a regular activity as the rich and famous made their way to America’s new playground—the one where the sun always shines.

The Kanterman family made the move south for many of same reasons that motivated a large exodus of northerners, jobs—lots of them. Sol Kanterman was a graduate of City College in New York and had a law degree that kept him out of active combat in WWII. It did not, however, get him a job when he returned stateside and he was barely making do with his position in the Bronx office of the New York City Law Department. His two children, David and Janet, were uncomfortable in the tight space available in their walk-up apartment and although Miriam was willing to get a job in order to move to better lodgings, such a thing was unheard of in their immediate circle of family and friends.

The miracle came in the form of a letter from a buddy who had been stationed with him in England during the war. It was a carbon copy of a letter that Buzz Markey sent to a bunch of other lawyers who had worked on contracts between American manufacturers and the British army. “Fellows: You should listen up and then grab your family, your sweetheart or just your knapsack! Jobs for lawyers are a dime a dozen and the pay is a lot more than a dime. Think real estate. Buildings come down and new buildings go up so fast it makes your head spin like a yo-yo on a long string. I can set you up in no time at all . . .”

Within days, the Kantermans were packed into their two-door Pontiac and heading down U.S.1 for Miami. The only person who expressed caution was Janet. “It sounds too good to be true, Dad. Maybe you should go check it out first.”

chateau by the sea postcardIt took only four days to make the journey. They shared a motel room for three nights and only diverted for a short ride to see the White House in Washington, D.C. When they arrived in North Miami, Sol suggested they celebrate with two rooms (adjoining, of course) at the Chateau Motel on the beach. The next morning, while Miriam slept in (fitting for the wife of an up and coming attorney) and the children played at the pool, Sol went to the address Buzz sent him.

It was nearing sundown when he arrived back at the lobby of the garishly painted pink stucco building. Miriam, David and Janet were waiting for him on the settees crowded around the registration desk. Janet would tell her own children the story many decades later, after Grampa Sol had passed away.

“He came through the door looking like a hobo. He was very drunk, literally staggering, and his clothes were disheveled and stained. I started to cry the minute I saw him. I knew what had happened. I knew he had been duped by his former army buddy. And I was filled with rage at the man. I wanted him to be punished for what he had done to my father. But I learned something about justice that day. I saw my mother stand up and walk toward my father who was teetering on his feet while tears were soaking his face. I thought my mother felt the same rage; that she might yell at my dad, really cut him down. But she didn’t do that. She put her arms around my father and she gently brought his head down to her shoulder. They stood like that for what seemed like hours and then we all went upstairs.”

Janet’s father, Sol, never quite recovered from the humiliation he suffered when they first arrived in Miami, but he bought an interest in a fledgling title company that thrived in the successful expansion of suburbs moving ever westward from the beaches of South Florida.

duke u school of law todayJanet’s record at Duke University’s School of Law impressed everyone, but no one more than Sol Kanterman. There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind that Janet would join the Miami Prosecutor’s Office, but she surprised everyone in the family by marrying a real estate developer from West Palm Beach and setting up her own shop there in the beautiful Como Building on Clematis Street, a not so trendy area at the time. When the impressive Justice Complex was later built just a block away, Janet looked for an opportunity to change her workplace and filed for a vacancy on the trial court. She did well in the race, but not well enough. Ever the competitor, she waited for another opening and changed her playbook shrewdly enough to slide into an easy victory.

Janet used to think that her father was her role model for her interests and career. But, when her husband, Stuart, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest at a Starbucks not far from the courthouse, her life changed and so did her appraisal of her mother. It was to her memories of Miriam Kanterman that Janet looked for the strength to remake a life without her husband, just as her mother had done so many years before. When Sol died of pancreatic cancer shortly after Janet opened her own law practice, her mother, Miriam, mourned for a solid year and when that year had passed, threw herself into community work, her grandchildren and the temple sisterhood. Janet vowed that she would emulate her mother’s dignity and determination to move forward with her life. There was no time for the temple sisterhood, but she loved her work as a jurist and it consumed her mind and interest so completely that there was little time to dwell on her loneliness. Little time—but it was always there—the empty place at the breakfast table and at the other side of king-size bed they had shared for so many years.

Why Judge Kanterman Has to Stand for Election

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

WPB15th_closeup cr2Judge Janet Kanterman serves on the Fifteenth Circuit Court in West Palm Beach, Florida – but only in my books. Don’t stop by the courthouse and look for her or for her bailiff Casey Portman. You’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, you’ll get a chance to look at the place where so much of the action, including more than a few murders, happens in Punishment and Blame. 

Because I created this jurist, I am able to endow her with traits I admire, traits I haven’t always observed in my colleagues when I was on the bench. But at a minimum, all of us who serve at the trial court level have a law degree, something you, as consumers, probably assumed was true. It will most probably surprise you, then, to learn that a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court does not need a law degree.

Our Constitution does not require a legal education for this elevated and supremely powerful lifetime appointment. John Jay, John Marshall, and Benjamin Cardozo were just a few of the famed justices who did not have formal law degrees. Yet, nowadays the lower courts in most states will seat only a graduate of an accredited law school and often require a minimum number of years in practice. All of this would be academic if it were not for the hodge-podge of ways in which the fifty states go about the business of putting men and women on their courts.

Most states have a three-tier court system. The lower courts are known as trial courts where civil and criminal cases are heard, usually by a jury but occasionally by a judge alone. The next level is the appellate court where litigants who are unhappy with the judgment in the trial court can argue that legal errors were made that should result in a change in the outcome. The highest court, usually the Supreme Court of the State, will review only a few of the appellate court’s decisions, but they are, like their cousins in D.C., the last word.

Some states still elect judges at all levels to hear, preside over, or decide cases involving everything from traffic citations to constitutional issues. Election laws for judicial posts usually prohibit candidates from speaking about their views about existing law, prior cases, or issues that may come before the courts. As a result, the outcomes in these state races usually hinge on name recognition, political affiliation and/or race, gender or ethnicity. Such a system inevitably runs the risk of rewarding mediocrity rather than excellence, but that liability is offset by the common sense and hard work of many judges.

The majority of states have developed a hybrid system of appointing some judges (especially at the appellate levels) and electing the lower court judges. Some states appoint all judges, but require that they stand for a “yea” or “nay” vote to confirm their continued service. Other states appoint all judges and require periodic reconfirmation by the voters or by a panel charged with evaluating candidates.

florida_map_circuit_courtIn Florida circuit and county court judges are elected to six-year terms. As a county trial court judge, Janet Kanterman must stand for election. As a result, she will find it necessary to raise money and to campaign (while saying essentially nothing meaningful about the law or issues facing the court). It is distasteful to her, as it was to me when I stood for election. Yet the notion that the voters, rather than a committee, should decide who is fit for these powerful positions is a sound one. This is especially true of the trial court, where most people will have contact with the judicial system. (It is even truer at the municipal level where you will often find the mayor presiding over traffic court or other misdemeanors). Some jurists, and I count myself among them, favor election at the trial court level, especially in smaller geographical areas. The smaller the jurisdiction, the more likely the citizens will know the candidates personally or have some contact that will inform their decisions.

Linda Rocker On Her New Legal Thriller, Blame (Video)

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Video Transcript

Fixing blame… that is the toughest thing. Judges and juries are asked to fix blame. In Judge Kanterman’s court we have a doctor who has been accused of writing too many prescriptions for a young man who overdoses.  And as we know from watching the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor, that’s a big story today.  It’s a huge issue. It’s a perfect example of the notion that somebody always has to be to blame.

I write the books because I’m a born reformer. My father was a judge, my great grandfather was a judge. My favorite politician during my lifetime was Robert Kennedy who said, “Some people see things as they are and ask “Why?”.  I see things as they could be and ask “Why not?””  So, I want to see changes that make the courtroom a more level playing field, particularly for people who are already powerless.  

The greatest misconception is that there is a level playing field.  That is not true. The whole system favors the State.  The State has access to almost everything you would need to present a case in court.  Most defendants have a public defender or a court-appointed attorney.  They have access to next to nothing. And in this particular book there’s a very ambitious prosecutor and he just needs one delicious, meaty case to catapult him into becoming a judge himself. And he thinks this case is the one.

What Does Casey Portman Really Look Like?

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Are you a fan of Linda Rocker’s debut novel Punishment: A Legal Thriller?  How about the main character Casey Portman?  Have you ever wondered who Casey REALLY is?  What about your other favorite characters, such as Luke, Charlie and Judge Janet Kanterman?

What Does Casey Portman Really Look Like?

Get ready… in the coming weeks you’re going to get the inside scoop and background info on your favorite characters from Punishment -people who you’re going to meet again in Linda’s upcoming sequel – Blame.  Stay tuned!

What’s Linda Been Up To? A Flash Mob For Dan!

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Flash Mob For Dan's 80thIf you’ve been wondering what Linda’s been doing when she’s not busy working on Blame then you’ve come to the right place. Her husband Dan is a huge fan or watching flash mob videos on YouTube.  Well, for his 80th birthday Linda decided to get him a very special gift… a starring role in his very own flash mob video!

You can see it on Facebook on Dan’s special birthday page (if you haven’t left a birthday wish for him on this page yet, please do!):

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CelebratingDans80th

If you don’t use Facebook, or prefer to watch directly on YouTube:

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmJeTm7eFzE

A note from the team:

For all of you that took part: thanks for keeping it a secret, dressing in neon clothes, dancing with abandon, and generally giving it your all to make Dan’s surprise so magical! Linda, Maryn and Susan are very grateful.

Best wishes.

Team LionMaus (Tiffany, Megan, Ben and Kelsey)

The video certainly has gone viral… check out the story on RightThisMinute about Dan’s flash mob!

Linda Rocker Sits Down With Kristen Mott Of Cleveland Jewish News

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Linda Rocker recently sat down with CJN staff reporter Kristen Mott to talk about Blame, her characters and Clean Margins and Other Stories.  Here’s an excerpt from that interview:

“The art inside Linda Rocker’s home in Orange is as colorful and distinctive as her career. Just as each piece of art tells a story about Rocker’s travels, her career choices tell stories about her values and passions.

Though she is petite, Rocker is a force to be reckoned with. As a retired teacher, attorney, judge and now novelist, Rocker has never been one to turn down a challenge. Throughout her career, she has been a champion of women’s rights and of helping the less fortunate. She credits her compassion to growing up in a home with strong Jewish values.”

Read the full article here: CJN’s Jews of Interest: Linda Rocker