Mike Avery "Writing Courtroom Scenes"
Tuesday October 24, 2023
Mike Avery has over 50 years’ experience in court—from U.S. Supreme Court to civil & criminal jury trials, including murder. He’ll describe what good lawyers do and don’t do, the legal & stylistic differences between direct vs. cross-examination, the importance of a jury, when circumstantial evidence can be used, arresting someone on “suspicion,” what “hearsay” means, and whether lawyers care if their client is guilty.
Are you currently writing a courtroom scene? Do you have questions? Print them out for Mike. He’ll send you suggestions.
Starting on a fast track as an ACLU staff lawyer during the 1970 New Haven Black Panther murder trial, Mike enjoyed an exciting career as a civil rights & criminal defense lawyer. Civil Rights: he represented victims of police abuse and racial and sexual discrimination. Criminal Cases: he defended people charged with everything from peaceful protesting to murder. In San Juan he represented the Puerto Rican novelist Pedro Juan Soto to get justice for the murder of his son by police officers in the infamous Cerro Maravilla case. In Los Angeles, he represented a young Armenian-American charged in a plot to bomb the Turkish Consulate in Philadelphia. In Boston in 2007, working with a team of lawyers, he obtained the largest judgment ever awarded against the FBI, $101.7 million, for the wrongful conviction of four innocent men for murder. His client, Peter Limone, had spent 33 years in prison for a murder of which he was innocent. The crime was actually committed by an FBI informant.
Mike knows the law and the people who break it, including those who are supposed to enforce it. Politically active, he has served as the President of the National Lawyers Guild and was one of the founders of the National Police Accountability Project. Mike also enjoyed a 16-year career as a law professor at Suffolk Law School in Boston. He has published several non-fiction books, including The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals, and We Dissent, Talking Back to the Rehnquist Court, in addition to two legal treatises: Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation, and the Handbook of Massachusetts Evidence.
He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School. He spent a year as an exchange student at the University of Moscow. After retiring as a professor of law, he obtained a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College. Mike now makes his home in Albuquerque NM.
Mike's first novel, The Cooperating Witness, introduces Susan Sorella as a law student in Boston. She returns in his recent mystery, Murder in Blue, as a full-fledged attorney.