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The Color of Law

Cover of The Color of Law

The Color of Law

A Novel
WHAT IF you had to choose between:
your seven-figure salary
your fancy house in the exclusive suburb
your memberships at a posh health club and even posher country club
your marriage
(not your soul; you've been renting it out for so long, it's as good as sold)
and
doing the right thing
And what if in doing the right thing, all of the above still wasn't enough and you risked having to pay the ultimate price? This is the choice that Scott Fenney faces when he's assigned a political hot potato of a pro bono defense case in Mark Gimenez's debut legal thriller, The Color of Law.
A poor-boy college football hero turned successful partner at a prominent Dallas firm—who long ago checked his conscience at the door—catches a case that forces him to choose between his enviable lifestyle and doing the right thing in this masterful debut legal thriller.
Clark McCall, ne'er-do-well son of Texas millionaire senator and presidential hopeful Mack McCall, puts a major crimp in his father's election plans when he winds up murdered—apparently by Shawanda Jones, a heroin-addicted hooker—after a tawdry night of booze, drugs, and rough sex.
Scott Fenney, who's worked his way to being a partner at an elite Dallas law firm, is assigned to provide Shawanda's pro bono defense after the federal judge on the case hears him deliver an inspiring, altruistic—and completely insincere—speech to the local bar association. Scott plans to farm the case out to an old law school buddy, do-good-attorney Bobby Herrin. But his plans go awry when Shawanda puts her foot down in court and refuses to be passed off to the lawyer she considers the lesser attorney.
As the case unfolds, pressure is exerted on Scott to deter him from being too aggressive in his defense of Shawanda. That pressure becomes palpable as Scott is slowly stripped of the things he's come to care for most. Will he do the right thing—at a terrible cost—or the easy thing and keep his hard-earned fabulous life?
With echoes of early John Grisham, THE COLOR OF LAW is a provocative page-turner that marks the stunning debut of a major new talent.
WHAT IF you had to choose between:
your seven-figure salary
your fancy house in the exclusive suburb
your memberships at a posh health club and even posher country club
your marriage
(not your soul; you've been renting it out for so long, it's as good as sold)
and
doing the right thing
And what if in doing the right thing, all of the above still wasn't enough and you risked having to pay the ultimate price? This is the choice that Scott Fenney faces when he's assigned a political hot potato of a pro bono defense case in Mark Gimenez's debut legal thriller, The Color of Law.
A poor-boy college football hero turned successful partner at a prominent Dallas firm—who long ago checked his conscience at the door—catches a case that forces him to choose between his enviable lifestyle and doing the right thing in this masterful debut legal thriller.
Clark McCall, ne'er-do-well son of Texas millionaire senator and presidential hopeful Mack McCall, puts a major crimp in his father's election plans when he winds up murdered—apparently by Shawanda Jones, a heroin-addicted hooker—after a tawdry night of booze, drugs, and rough sex.
Scott Fenney, who's worked his way to being a partner at an elite Dallas law firm, is assigned to provide Shawanda's pro bono defense after the federal judge on the case hears him deliver an inspiring, altruistic—and completely insincere—speech to the local bar association. Scott plans to farm the case out to an old law school buddy, do-good-attorney Bobby Herrin. But his plans go awry when Shawanda puts her foot down in court and refuses to be passed off to the lawyer she considers the lesser attorney.
As the case unfolds, pressure is exerted on Scott to deter him from being too aggressive in his defense of Shawanda. That pressure becomes palpable as Scott is slowly stripped of the things he's come to care for most. Will he do the right thing—at a terrible cost—or the easy thing and keep his hard-earned fabulous life?
With echoes of early John Grisham, THE COLOR OF LAW is a provocative page-turner that marks the stunning debut of a major new talent.
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    ONE


    What's the difference between a rattlesnake lying dead in the middle of a highway and a lawyer lying dead in the middle of a highway?" He paused. "There are skid marks in front of the snake."

    His bar association audience responded with polite laughter and diplomatic smiles.

    "Why did New Jersey get all the toxic waste dumps and California get all the lawyers?" He paused again. "Because New Jersey had first choice."

    Less laughter, fewer smiles, a scattering of nervous coughs: diplomacy was failing fast.

    "What do lawyers and sperm have in common?" He did not pause this time. "Both have a one-in-a-million chance of turning out human."

    All efforts at diplomacy had ended. His audience had fallen deathly silent; a sea of stone faces stared back at him. The lawyers on the dais focused on their lunches, embarrassed by their guest speaker's ill-advised attempt at humor. He looked around the crowded room, as if stunned. He turned his palms up.

    "Why aren't you laughing? Aren't those jokes funny? The public sure thinks those jokes are funny, damn funny. I can't go to a cocktail party or the country club without someone telling me a stupid lawyer joke. My friends, we are the butt of America's favorite jokes!"

    He adjusted the microphone so his deep sigh was audible, but he maintained steady eye contact with the audience.

    "I don't think those jokes are funny, either. I didn't go to law school to be the butt of cruel jokes. I went to law school to be another Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird was my mother's favorite book and my bedtime story. She'd read a chapter each night, and when we came to the end, she'd go back to the beginning and start over. 'Scotty,' she'd say, 'be like Atticus. Be a lawyer. Do good.'

    "And that, my fellow members of the bar, is the fundamental question we must ask ourselves: Are we really doing good, or are we just doing really well? Are we noble guardians of the rule of law fighting for justice in America, or are we just greedy parasites using the law to suck every last dollar from society like leeches on a dying man? Are we making the world a better place, or are we just making ourselves filthy rich?

    "We must ask ourselves these questions, my friends, because the public is asking the same questions of us. They're questioning us, they're pointing their fingers at us, they're blaming us. Well, I've asked myself these questions, and I have answers, for myself, for you, and for the public: Yes, we are doing good! Yes, we are fighting for justice! Yes, we are making the world a better place!

    "And ladies and gentlemen, if you elect me the next president of the state bar of Texas, I will tell the people exactly that! I will remind them that we wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, that we fought for civil rights, that we protect the poor, defend the innocent, free the oppressed. That we stand up for their inalienable rights. That we are all that stands between freedom and oppression, right and wrong, innocence and guilt, life and death. And I will tell the people that I am proud, damn proud, to be a lawyer . . . because lawyers--do--good!"

    Now, some might blame the Texas summer heat, but the audience, lawyers all--lawyers who had never protected the poor or defended the innocent or freed the oppressed, lawyers who stood up for the rights of multinational corporations--believed his words, like children who were old enough to know the truth about Santa Claus but who clung desperately to the myth anyway. They rose as one from their seats in the main dining room of the Belo Mansion in downtown Dallas and, with great enthusiasm,...
About the Author-
  • MARK GIMENEZ grew up in Galveston County, Texas. Once a partner at a major Dallas firm, Gimenez gave it up in order to start his own single practice and to write. He lives outside Fort Worth with his wife and two sons.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine This thriller includes a good mystery and a tongue-in-cheek look at the legal profession. The son of a Texas millionaire senator and presidential candidate is murdered, apparently by Shawanda Jones, a hooker. A. Scott Fenney, a handsome, arrogant corporate lawyer, is appointed by a powerful federal judge to represent her. Whether portraying poor blacks or hotshot attorneys and social- climbing Dallas society wives, Hoye clearly portrays the characters and situations. He memorably masters little girl voices for Shawanda's and A. Scott's precocious daughters. Using outstanding vocal flexibility, he invests his narration with a sense of foreboding as A. Scott's world slowly disintegrates. S.C.A. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 25, 2005
    A. Scott Fenney, the hotshot young Dallas attorney of Gimenez's debut, has a beautiful house, an idle, social-climbing wife and a spoiled daughter; his most lucrative client is local magnate Tom Dibrell, whom he regularly rescues from sexual harassment suits. When Clark McCall, the no-account son of Texas' senior senator (and presidential hopeful), is murdered, Fenney is forced by his firm to pro bono the suspect, heroin-addicted prostitute Shawanda Jones. While admitting to the crime, Jones claims it was self-defense, and refuses to plead out to avoid the death penalty—giving Fenney fits. With Jones's life on the line, Fenney agonizes about whether he can do the trial, losing wife, job, and country club membership as he slowly uncovers the truth about McCall. Along the way, Fenney takes custody of Jones's precocious daughter, Pajamae, in a cross-cultural subplot with more cliché than life-lesson. A former Dallas attorney, Gimenez offers an entertaining window onto the city's legal world, but he telegraphs most of the story, and his attempts at negotiating Dallas's race and class conflicts fall flat; whether platitudinous or wise-cracking, the minor characters unintentionally reinforce the stereotypes the book works so hard to combat. Agent, Liv Blumer
    .

  • AudioFile Magazine A big-firm Dallas lawyer loses everything while gaining his self-respect in this exciting story of politics, greed, and murder. Asked by a judge to defend an African-American prostitute, single mother, and heroin addict, Scott Fenney reluctantly agrees although the victim is the son of a senator with presidential ambitions. Brian Keith Lewis adopts a confidential tone as he becomes Fenney, other cogs in the legal machinery, the senator, the accused (who refuses to plead guilty), and, most important, a pair of 9-year-old girls, one the lawyer's daughter and one the prostitute's. Their relationship as seen by author and reader makes this abridged but plausible story stand out. J.B.G. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • The Arizona Republic

    "Move over John Grisham.... Mark Gimenez makes his debut with a legal thriller...that will keep you on the edge of your seat." --San Antonio Express-News"An unbeatable thriller with a lot of heart." --Texas Monthly"A delight.... Highly readable.... Gimenez's portrait of Dallas is venomous, vivid and heartfelt." --The Washington Post"A page-turner.... To Kill a Mockingbird with some Law & Order thrown in." --Houston Press"Fast-paced and thought-provoking.... A well calibrated contemporary morality play."

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The Color of Law
A Novel
Mark Gimenez
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