Liebman, Ron 1943–
Liebman, Ron 1943–
(Ronald S. Liebman)
Born October 11, 1943, in Baltimore, MD; son of Harry Martin and Marta Liebman; married Simma Weintraub (a travel agent and graphic artist), January 8, 1982; children: Shana, Margot. Education: McDaniel College, B.A., 1966; University of Maryland, J.D., 1969.
Home—Washington, DC. Office—Patton, Boggs & Blow, 2550 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20037 Agent—Esther Newberg, International Creative Management, 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]com; [email protected]
U.S. District Court, Baltimore, MD, law clerk to Chief Judge R. Dorsey Watkins, 1969-70; Melnicove, Kaufman & Weiner (law firm), Baltimore, associate, 1970-72; U.S. Department of Justice, Baltimore, assistant U.S. attorney, 1972-78; Sachs, Greenebaum & Taylor (law firm), Washington, DC, partner, 1978-82; Patton, Boggs & Blow (law firm), Washington, DC, partner, 1982—. Drummer for the band the Developments.
American Bar Association, Maryland Bar Association, District of Columbia Bar Association.
Grand Jury (novel), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1983.
(Editor, with Scott N. Stone) Testimonial Privileges: A Treatise, McGraw (New York, NY), 1983.
Shark Tales: True (and Amazing) Stories from America's Lawyers, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Death by Rodrigo: A Novel, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.
Ron Liebman first came into the public eye as part of the legal team that prosecuted former vice president Spiro T. Agnew. In 1983, he published a novel set in the world of law, Grand Jury. In his book, Shark Tales: True (and Amazing) Stories from America's Lawyers, Liebman brings together a collection of real-life anecdotes in which lawyers illustrate how incredibly stupid their clients can be. Moronic replies to cross-examinations, incredible rationalizations for illegal actions, and a wide spectrum of bad behavior and cloudy thinking are all illustrated in Shark Tales. Lawyers are skewered in the book, too. For example, numerous anecdotes describe the clash of trendy ideals with the lure of making big money, commonly experienced by law students in the 1960s. Liebman makes "no pretension to literary greatness," but Shark Tales is "pretty nicely done all the same," according to a writer for Kirkus Reviews. And yet that reviewer was not entirely pleased with Shark Tales, commenting: "The only downside to the book is the depressing view of the damnable human condition that the anecdotes, as a whole, offer…. Some of these tales inspire downright Nietzschean pessimism—but others yield a good yuck or two." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly took a more lighthearted view of the book, praising the "dozens of amusing or surprising examples of human behavior from a network of lawyer friends and contacts" presented in the book. Reading the book is "the equivalent of a pleasant bar-stool visit with some good legal yarn spinners," concluded the reviewer.
Liebman's next novel, Death by Rodrigo: A Novel, was published seven years later in 2007. This legal thriller is about two Jersey cops turned defense lawyers, Mickie Mezzonatti and Junne Salerno, who find themselves taking on more than they bargained for when a client, Rodrigo Gonzalez, a jailed Salvadoran drug lord who wants to be released on bail so he can escape, hires them to get him out on bond. While winning the case means a big payoff for the two, losing it will cost them their lives. As their attempts to successfully defend him fail, Rodrigo begins threatening them with ever-escalating violence. "Besides sympathy for the screw-ups who pass through our criminal justice system, Death by Rodrigo also shows real affection for the messiness of criminal law as it's truly practiced," as Elizabeth Engdahl put it in her review of the book for Legal Times. In a Booklist review of Death by Rodrigo, Wes Lukowsky noted that "his characters are sharply and humanely drawn; both lawyers and criminals are mixes of creepy and endearing." A Publishers Weekly critic mentioned of the book that while the subplot "feels artificial," it is "otherwise rich with sharp, crackling dialogue, memorable characters and local color."
Liebman once told CA: "The work of a trial lawyer and a writer seems, for me at least, to fit together nicely. Any good trial lawyer needs to understand people and the situations and predicaments in which they often find themselves. Obviously, so does a fiction writer. While the trial lawyer deals in fact and the novelist in imagination, both have an audience, and both must be able to communicate, to tell a story. Whether one is a juror or a reader, most people will agree that there is nothing like a good story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2007, Wes Lukowsky, review of Death by Rodrigo: A Novel, p. 61.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2000, review of Shark Tales: True (and Amazing) Stories from America's Lawyers, p. 860; July 15, 2007, review of Death by Rodrigo.
Legal Times, November 26, 2007, Elizabeth Engdahl, review of Death by Rodrigo.
Publishers Weekly, November 11, 1983; August 7, 2000, review of Shark Tales, p. 83; July 30, 2007, review of Death by Rodrigo, p. 53.
Ron Liebman Home Page,http://www.ronliebman.com (July 3, 2008).