Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira
A Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse

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Synopsis

Steve Bogira’s riveting book takes us into the heart of America’s criminal justice system. Courtroom 302 is the story of one year in one courtroom in Chicago’s Cook County Criminal Courthouse, the busiest felony courthouse in the country.

We see the system through the eyes of the men and women who experience it, not only in the courtroom but in the lockup, the jury room, the judge’s chambers, the spectators’ gallery. When the judge and his staff go to the scene of the crime during a burglary trial, we go with them on the sheriff’s bus. We witness from behind the scenes the highest-profile case of the year: three young white men, one of them the son of a reputed mobster, charged with the racially motivated beating of a thirteen-year-old black boy. And we follow the cases that are the daily grind of the court, like that of the middle-aged man whose crack addiction brings him repeatedly back before the judge.
Bogira shows us how the war on drugs is choking the system, and how in most instances justice is dispensed–as, under the circumstances, it must be–rapidly and mindlessly. The stories that unfold in the courtroom are often tragic, but they no longer seem so to the people who work there. Says a deputy in 302: “You hear this stuff every day, and you’re like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s get this over with and move on to the next thing.’”

Steve Bogira is, as Robert Caro says, “a masterful reporter.” His special gift is his understanding of people–and his ability to make us see and understand them. Fast-paced, gripping, and bursting with character and incident, Courtroom 302 is a unique illumination of our criminal court system that raises fundamental issues of race, civil rights, and justice.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Steve Bogira

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Steve Bogira graduated from Northwestern University and has been a prizewinning writer for the Chicago Reader since 1981. He is a former Alicia Patterson Fellow. He lives with his wife in Evanston, Illinois.
 
Published December 14, 2011 by Vintage. 418 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Courtroom 302

Kirkus Reviews

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But the strongest portrait here is of Judge Daniel Locallo, who emerges as a hero even though Bogira doesn’t refrain from criticizing him.

Feb 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

The New York Times

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Bogira follows the continuing story of one genial middle-aged drug defendant, Larry Bates, through three probations, repeat arrests, drug treatments and his son's high school graduation before a prison term from Locallo.

May 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

The New York Times

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n Chicago's Cook County Criminal Courthouse, ''the biggest and busiest felony courthouse in the nation,'' 17-year-old Leslie McGee sits before Judge Daniel Locallo, on trial for a murder she confessed to committing at 16.

May 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

The New York Times

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n Chicago's Cook County Criminal Courthouse, ''the biggest and busiest felony courthouse in the nation,'' 17-year-old Leslie McGee sits before Judge Daniel Locallo, on trial for a murder she confessed to committing at 16.

May 01 2005 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

Publishers Weekly

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Chicago-based journalist Bogira's first book is an outstanding journey inside the American criminal justice system that nicely complements last year's Blue Blood , Edward Conlon's inside look at the life of a big-city cop.

Feb 14 2005 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

Book Reporter

Courtroom 302 is one of dozens of courtrooms in the Criminal Courthouse grinding out roughly 30,000 criminal cases annually.

Dec 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

Entertainment Weekly

Journalist Steve Bogira spent a year in Chicago's Cook County Criminal Court-house, the nation's busiest felony court, and stumbled on a mother lode of squalor and suffering.

Apr 04 2005 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

The American Book Center Blog

Spend a full year in an American criminal courthouse, watch, listen, interview judges, defendants, victims, prosecutors, public and private defenders, jurors and spectators, and then tell a complete story about the criminal justice system.

Oct 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Courtroom 302: A Year Behind ...

Reader Rating for Courtroom 302
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