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Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves
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Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves [Format Kindle]

John Kroger

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Convictions is a spellbinding story from the front lines of the fight against crime. Most Americans know little about the work of assistant United States attorneys, the federal prosecutors who possess sweeping authority to investigate and prosecute the nation’s most dangerous criminals. John Kroger pursued high-profile cases against Mafia killers, drug kingpins, and Enron executives. Starting from his time as a green recruit and ending at the peak of his career, he steers us through the complexities of life as a prosecutor, where the battle in the courtroom is only the culmination of long and intricate investigative work. He reveals how to flip a perp, how to conduct a cross, how to work an informant, how to placate a hostile judge. Kroger relates it all with a novelist’s eye for detail and a powerful sense of the ethical conflicts he faces. Often dissatisfied with the system, he explains why our law enforcement policies frequently fail in critical areas like drug enforcement and white-collar crime. He proposes new ways in which we can fight crime more effectively, empowering citizens to pressure their lawmakers to adopt more productive policies. This is an unflinching portrait of a crucial but little-understood part of our justice system, and Kroger is an eloquent guide.

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11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 JOHN KROGER FOR THE UNITED STATES 20 mars 2010
Par Hansen Alexander - Publié sur
by Hansen Alexander

It was my first run in with the hot tempered Governor of Arkansas in 1992. There were smudges on the policy papers I was responsible for photocopying and he had just noticed them when visiting the Little Rock headquarters. Policy was still operated in the Washington Campaign Headquarters on this winter morning, the writing mostly done by two Yale grads, Bruce Reed and John Kroger.

The Governor was furious and the building was shaking. The only calm presence was Kroger, a former Marine. Bill Clinton's overworked campaign plane was burning through most of our cash and we did not have the funds to replace our photocopy machine. "Go downstairs," Kroger calmly told me, "and ask one of the law firms if you can borrow their copy machines to do the policy papers." I did so, going from floor to floor until a cooperative young female attorney copied the papers for me--at her personal expense.

John Kroger, soon to be moved to Little Rock, was not only the calmest person in the Washington office but was also one of the nicest. He was quiet but respectful of everybody. Like George Stephanapoulos, he was a good guy in the office who proved too pleasant to last long in the back stabbing world of presidential politics. Kroger left Washington in 1993 to go to law school after only a few months of exile at the Treasury Department, where he had been sent after speaking his mind during the transition period.

Kroger became one of the best federal prosecutors of the late 1990s and early 21rst century, helping to send hard to convict godfathers, drug dealers, and Enron executives to prison. Convictions is his story. It is the best book about fighting crime since James B. Stewart's 1988 classic, The Prosecutors.

Three effective techniques employed by Kroger make this an extraordinary book. First, he is a very effective story teller. Each major case he prosecuted was land-mined with more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie crime novel. Witnesses lie to him, veteran defense lawyers always have legal tricks up their sleeves, Mafia dons try to charm him. Honest to a fault, Kroger details his learning curve as a prosecutor.

Yet unlike George Stephanopoulos's book All Too Human, where the TV morning personality's accounts of political naivete sound false, Kroger's mistakes are obvious and real. And he doesn't make the same mistake twice.

His delightful description of his six week, cross country bike tour that culminates in seeing Portland, a city he falls in love with and decides to eventually call it home, is a bonus.

Second, because Kroger is a disciple of philosopher Emmanuel Kant, the ethics of breaking down human beings mentally to convict them wears him down because he realizes the human cost of turning witnesses, breaking men, humiliating them, leaving their dignity for dead no matter how horrible their crimes of murder, extortion, bribery, drug dealing, assault.

Because Kroger is a throwback in an age of well connected and entitled professionals, a truly self made man, he was not too removed from the ethics of the family oriented Mafia or Hispanic drug gangs. His problems come in prosecuting the upper middle class Enron executives, who felt entitled to their ill gotten riches. Kroger frankly admits he does not understand these people at all, even though many of them were from his hometown of Houston.

Third, the nerdy bookworm in Kroger remains the policy maven I remember from the 1992 presidential campaign.

He admits that the economic changes in America and the world had more to do with defeating the Mafia than his dramatic convictions in an era when Mafia members ratted on each other to an unprecedented degree, although he gives President Reagan and United States Attorney Rudolf Giuliani their due in vigorously going after the Mafia.

The Mafia's drug supply, Kroger tells us, came from Africa and the Mediterranean. Successful law enforcement efforts drove the traffic to Latin America and South America. The Italian Mafia did not speak Spanish and were therefore cut out of the action. The decline of labor unions, often infiltrated and even run by the Mafia, declined dramatically from almost 50 percent of American workers in World War II to less than 10 percent in the 21rst century. In addition, the settled Italian neighborhoods of places such as Brooklyn, the old breeding grounds of the Mafia, have broken up with the suburbanization of America and the integration of formerly working class Italian Americans into professions that they were once discouraged from entering.

And yet government does matter. The enactment of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO) federalized crimes that involved an organized group and impacted interstate commerce. Instead of easily bought off New York City cops pursuing them, the Mafia faced the FBI and all its resources.

Kroger points out that the rejection of rehabilitation as a social policy objective and with it legislation mandating required sentences without parole constrained judicial discretion and made judges less susceptible to intimidation from the Mafia. The Federal Witness Protection Program also made it easier for Mafia family members to testify against each other. Government legislation also liberalized wiretapping rules, broadening the scope of what government agents could record.

Despite his strong ethical bent, Kroger is a realist. When money is abundant, as happened during the dot com boom and the era of deregulation, there's no stopping Wall Street corruption. "Fraud is hardwired into the free market economy," writes Kroger. "All we can do is try to limit its frequency and impact."

I wish I had read this book before writing my own introductory law text, "A Tort is Not a Pastry," because Kroger is so good at explaining legal concepts and jargon for the general reader. Among them---and I'm not going to discuss them but rather urge you to discover them for yourselves in this book---are "takedown," "community prosecution," "controlled delivery," "cowboys," "superseding indictment," "comity," "the sit-down," and "smurfing."

A decade after his glory days in the court room, he admits his greatest thrill remains the simple introduction of an Assistant United States Attorney before a trial, "John Kroger for the United States."

Elected Attorney General of Oregon in 2008, Kroger has been sucked back into politics. With Kroger at least, you know what you're getting: a dedicated public servant who will work long hours, who believes in the old fashioned ideals of public service and helping people, and who has high ethical standards.

And a damn good writer into the bargain.
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Unputdownable 21 mai 2008
Par Colleen10014 - Publié sur
"Unputdownable" is an adjective normally used to describe potboilers, not non-fiction books written by attorneys about their cases. Yet once you start reading Convictions, by John Kroger, it's impossible to put it down. With intelligence, insight, candor and a healthy dose of self-criticism, the former assistant US Attorney tells stories of chasing mobsters, fighting (and losing) the "war on drugs," and the arduous task of representing the US government in court. Kroger is the rare thing: an outstanding lawyer who writes like a novelist and thinks like a philosopher. This is a remarkable book; don't miss the chance to read it.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Leaves You Wanting More of a Good Thing 16 août 2008
Par Erik Warren O'Dell - Publié sur
Simply put, the stories that Kroger tells and the way in which he tells them just make this book extremely interesting and engrossing. Being that I would like to be an attorney one day (possibly an ADA), and also got my undergraduate degree in Philosophy like the author--there was that immediate relation (besides the fact that Kroger is far more intelligent) that I found in the book.
This is a phenomenal read and really just made me wish that there was a part 2 of this book so I can read more of his exciting stories as an AUSA. Even if you have the slightest interest in legal books, this is will suck you in immediately. Not what you would expect from the "legal" genre. Pick it up, give it a read. Worth the price and you wont be disappointed.
7 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Get to Know Oregon's New A.G. 25 février 2009
Par Brian Wegener - Publié sur
I checked this book out of the library because I wanted to know more about Oregon's new Attorney General. Kroger put together a unique coalition of environmentalists, district attorneys and police chiefs to win election in his first campaign.

In the Democratic primary he ran against an established corporate attorney and state legislator with a good environmental voting record. He convinced a significant number of environmentalists whe were fed up with Oregon's failure to enforce environmental laws that he would devote some serious effort to retoring Oregon's long-lost reputation for environmental protection.

In the general election, the Republican party didn't bother to run a candidate against Kroger. Kroger's reputation as a strong and aggressive prosecuter had won endorsements of the vast majority of district attorneys, sheriffs, and police chiefs in the state.

A significant part of Kroger's campaign rhetoric focused on drug treatment to reduce the states child abuse and other crime. Methamphetamine has hit Oregon hard.

Kroger's book gives some insight into what has made him who he is. Clearly he is dedicated and his work habits as an Assistant U.S. Attorney left little time for a personal life. Kroger is an ex-marine raised in Texas who graduated with an ivy league degree in philosophy, an unusual combination.

I have been a great fan of the TV show Law and Order over the years, finding the most interesting stories those where moral tradeoffs are complicated. Krogers book is a fascinating self-examination of internal moral conflicts inherent in being a prosecutor. The book held my interest from cover-to-cover and leaves me eager to read more of his writing in the future.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic 8 septembre 2008
Par Sharkboy - Publié sur
This book sucked me in from the very beginning, combining elements of everything I'm interested in: politics, government, law, law enforcement, the mafia, etc. Kroger's style of writing is clear and entertaining, never boring, and filled with many thought provoking passages and legal conundrums. Even though I stumbled upon this book randomly at the bookstore, it was money well spent and I highly recommend it.
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Over time, Corngold told me, a person who constantly makes counterfactual arguments loses their reverence for the truth. &quote;
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As a result, modern American trial lawyers spend most of their time trying to mislead juries. As one top attorney recently commented, too many lawyers rely on their duty to be a zealous advocate to subvert our adversary system into a mechanism for distorting truth, subverting justice, and treating others with incivility. &quote;
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When you cross a defendant, all you want to do is not lose, and that means play it safe. Select one basic theme, force the defendant to admit some facts that help establish that theme, and then get out quick. &quote;
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