Both the defendants who come before him and the attorneys who represent them hate Judge Calvin Jeffries, an arrogant and cruel tyrant. So when he is murdered, many in the legal community assume it was a revenge killing. They are surprised when a homeless drifter is found with the knife that was used. The drifter confesses, then kills himself. Case closed.
Then Jeffries's replacement, Quincey Griswald, is murdered under very similar circumstances. Both were stabbed, both were killed in a parking garage near their cars and both were killed by homeless vagrants. The suspect in Griswald's murder has not confessed, and the Legal Aid attorney representing the suspect, known only as “John Smith,” expects to plead insanity and have him placed in a mental institution.
Joseph Antonelli, considered one of the top defense lawyers in Portland, Oregon, agrees to take the case. He sees a possible connection between the murders – Elliott Winston, a brilliant lawyer who was first mentored and then betrayed by Jeffries. The judge who allowed him to be shut up in an insane asylum for an attempted murder was Griswald. The supposed intended victim was Antonelli.
At the same time, Antonelli is reacquainted with his high school sweetheart, the only woman he ever loved. Because of his mother's opposition, they were parted when he went off to college. Jennifer married a man she didn't love, and the marriage fell apart when she lapsed into depression. She spent six months in a mental institution and now controls the depression with lithium.
Antonelli marries Jennifer, despite warnings that her manic-depressive symptoms could recur at any time.
Antonelli's investigator, Howard Flynn, a recovering alcoholic, has somehow broken through to “John Smith,” and discovers that his real name is Danny and that the knife was given to him by someone he knows only as “Billy.” With this sketchy information, Antonelli's challenge is to connect Winston with the murders, even though Winston was locked up in an asylum when they were committed.
How he accomplishes this task and deals with Jennifer's increasingly bizarre behavior fills the final part of this book.
This report prepared by David Gordon
This stunning book goes so much deeper than a murder mystery. Buffa delves into the concept of sanity and obsessions, be it with alcohol, love, justice, fear, etc. This has to be the best fiction I have ever read. Makes Grisham look like a simpleton. There are a few subplots in this story, but Buffa weaves them together and wonders who really is "normal?" A brilliant work that reads like a classic. Awesome!
This report prepared by Kenneth Heard
Warner, May 2001, 24.95, 418 pp.
Circuit Court Judge Calvin Jeffries ranked with this country's best legal minds, but his reputation to the public involved over use perhaps abuse of court power. Many attorneys who felt Jeffries unfairly undermined a defense were not toasting the deceased. However, surprisingly, the individual who murdered the Judge in the court parking lot was a homeless person not connected to the victim. Attorney Joseph Antonelli, not a Jeffries fan, accepts the defense of the accused judge killer.
When the suspect kills himself, the case seems over, but Jeffries' widow thinks otherwise. Soon someone murders a second judge and the police shout copycat and arrest another homeless person. Antonelli begins to wonder if Mrs. Jeffries is right that something more sinister is the cause behind the homicides and who is next?
The story line of THE JUDGMENT is a fast-paced, exciting legal thriller. The cast is fully drawn and seem real, especially the hero and the first dead Judge. Though Antonelli speaks in a stilted tongue in what sounds like to much legalese for everyday discussions, he remains a powerful caring character who readers will like but ask him to speak in plain English. D.W. Buffa provides the audience with a strong legal thriller that fans will enjoy, but need a few days to read.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner