In America’s Court

How a Civil Lawyer Who Likes to Settle Stumbled into a Criminal Trial

The smart, funny, and compelling story of criminal justice and the injustice from the author of Which Side Are You On?

In America’s Court is the thoughtful, witty story of labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan’s introduction to the world of criminal law. After twenty years of civil practice, in which “complex litigation” fades slowly into settlement, he is unprepared for the much quicker justice of state criminal court when he assists in the defense of a twenty-two-year-old who, at age fifteen, was sentenced to forty years in prison for acting as the unarmed lookout in a botched holdup. In an America that now routinely imprisons kids as adults, he comes to see this small case as a basic test of human rights.

The case leads Geoghegan to reevaluate his own career as a civil lawyer and the ways he might use the law to effect social change. Written with the author’s trademark intelligence and humor, In America’s Court is a compelling narrative and a candid look at the justice that our society provides for its citizens.


“Geoghegan writes with endearing verve and worldly good humor even when bemoaning what he regards as the worst excesses of the criminal justice system. . . . What most enlivens the book, however, is a passion for justice that is found in precious few attorneys in America today.”
—Jonathan Kirsch, The Washington Post Book Review
“Geoghegan’s insouciant style makes fresh the ins and outs of an attorney’s day and the way lawyers handle each other and judges. . . . A letter to young law-school grads seeking to change the world.”
Kirkus Reviews
“[Thomas Geoghegan] possesses a felicitous writing style that can marry anecdote and analysis.”
The New York Times Book Review

Books by Thomas Geoghegan

Which Side Are You On?
Trying to Be for Labor When It’s Flat on Its Back

Thomas Geoghegan

See You in Court
How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation

Thomas Geoghegan

Only One Thing Can Save Us
Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement

Thomas Geoghegan

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?
How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life

Thomas Geoghegan

Goodreads Reviews