Jeffrey A. Ward
Criminal defense is not for the faint of heart. Whether defending the innocent or guilty, the most vulnerable or the most hardened among us, defenders are confronted with skepticism and often hostility. For public defenders, it is worse. They face the misconception they are too inexperienced or too overworked to stand up to the government. Low pay, little respect, staggering caseloads, and the toughest cases on the planet. Who signs up for that job? In Bow Wow Needs a “Real” Lawyer! A Public Defender’s Life, Jeff Ward tells you who, and why they are drawn to it, while demonstrating how enormously effective they are.
Ward practiced forty-four years in Miami and Minneapolis, most as a public defender. He uses his “Top Ten List" of memorable cases to explain why everyone should care about our Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and he highlights the sense of urgency, responsibility, and madness that attracts lawyers to its defense.
Gritty, graphic, and unfiltered, tinged with humor and dripping with irreverence, Bow Wow takes you inside criminal trials—to the strategies and backroom machinations behind the verdicts. In “It’s Too Late for Truck Driving School,” Ward describes his first murder trial, a death penalty case assigned to him before he was licensed to practice law! In “A Psychologist in Every Squad Car,” he explains his successful defense of, and fondness for, a client who committed the ultimate crime. A perfect example of the crime not defining the person. And in “That’s My Head!” Ward describes a case that stretches the limits of creativity and conscience, for even the most seasoned defender.
Despite serious and important subject matter, Bow Wow has warmth, humor and compassion, making for a quick and compelling read. There is something for everyone: a rallying cry for defense attorneys, a deeper understanding for those interested in social justice, and a fascinating indulgence for those who love crime shows and novels—Bow Wow is a must read for all.
Balancing humor with heart-felt story-telling and memoir, it feels like having a beer with someone and having them tell you their greatest hits from a lengthy career of trying criminal cases. Superbly written, the book includes just enough explanation, that it would be a great way to introduce non-lawyers to the field. ~ Caroline Hicks, Hennepin County Public Defender.
Introspective, humorous, serious, educational, and irreverent, this book dispels the myth that public defenders are inexperienced and indifferent. In fact, they are passionate, talented, and extremely successful defenders of our sacred right to a fair trial. ~ J. Bert Finklestein, M.D.
Ward’s vibrant personality and humor shine through while delivering a purposeful message of the importance of our constitutional right to counsel. In a career that sometimes has us feeling burned-out or discouraged, his book again inspired me. Any audience would enjoy and benefit from this read. ~ Elsa Van Gorp, Miami Public Defender
The depth of a career in social justice is captured in this memoir. It renewed my zest for the fight. ~ Shauna Kieffer, Hennepin County Public Defender
A love story of public defense. A touching tribute to this difficult and rewarding work. I found inspiration in this book. I highly recommend it. ~ Kellie Charles, Hennepin County Public Defender
Jeff’s detailed recollections of key cases are the product of phenomenal recall, good notes, or simply the type of experiences that tend to be emblazoned on one’s memory. The book itself watches a professional life unfold, from start to finish, weaving together his life outside the office, and courtroom, with treasured colleagues over the years…in a tapestry that is reflected in both the structure—and humor—of the book itself. ~ Phillip Goldman, BS, MS, JD
“Bow Wow” was enjoyable from beginning to end. Ward’s directness, honesty and humor made it hard to put down. Overall, a great story that personifies the true meaning of compassion, integrity and ethics. ~ William Horne
One dollar from every book sale will be donated to public defense.