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Jacket: The Trials of a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney


From Pretentious Politicians to Clueless Cops, Memoir by John W. Hartmann Offers an Unflinching and Humorous Look at the New Jersey Criminal Justice System

Medford, NJ (PRWEB) November 05, 2012

Plexus Publishing, Inc. has announced the release of Jacket: The Trials of a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney by Trenton attorney and former state assemblyman John W. Hartmann, who offers a warts-and-all portrayal of New Jersey's fractious criminal justice system.

Central to Jacket is the story of Hartmann's client Nate Smith—wrongly identified in a robbery and locked up for a crime he didn't commit. Nate served nearly 4 years in prison. Hartmann received the case from a county prosecuting attorney who asked him to look into the case because the prosecutor believed that Smith was innocent but, due to a conflict of interest, could not represent him.

“When I first met Nate, he was like a breath of fresh air,” says Hartmann. “You know a lot of people say they are innocent, but Nate really was. In writing Jacket, I wanted to provide a ‘from the trenches' view of the criminal justice system in New Jersey—from the street to the courtroom to the verdict.” Hartmann explained, “The system is never pretty, it's not always fair, and after reading Jacket, it's up to the reader to draw his own conclusion as to whether or not it works.”

As Hartmann recounts his effort to overturn Nate's conviction, he dishes out amusing anecdotes from his life in law and politics, shares Garden State trivia, and offers advice on how to start a legal practice, prepare clients for trial, cross-examine witnesses, pick juries, and make prison hooch. Through Hartmann's irreverent humor, he puts a human face on the dysfunctional New Jersey justice system. In Jacket, no one is spared from his ridicule—whether he's taking shots at overbearing lawyers, cocky cops, clueless clients, pretentious politicians, hapless drug dealers, deadbeats, and prostitutes—everyone is fair game.

Memorable Quotes by John W. Hartmann

On the difference between politicians and criminals:
“Dealing with politicians is almost identical to dealing with criminals; the only difference between the two is that occasionally a criminal will tell you the truth.”

On the chances of getting a not guilty verdict in a federal criminal case:
“If you are charges for a crime in federal court, you have a better shot at a fair trial in Guadalajara than in the Southern District of New York.”

On why the right to bail is enshrined in the United States Constitution:
“Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton knew the importance of bail after carousing.”

On the effectiveness of reasoning with a drug addict:
“Just try talking sense to some shady, nervous wreck sitting in your office who is more cranked out than Axl Rose after he's banged a speedball and drunk a gallon of Red Bull. To say the meeting won't be productive is an understatement.”

John W. Hartmann is an attorney with a private practice near Princeton, in Mercer County, New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and two children. He has written one other nonfiction book, The American Partisan (Burd Street Press, 2000), and is currently at work on his first novel.

Jacket: The Trials of a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney (216 pp/softcover/$14.95/ISBN 978-0-937548-75-2) is available at bookstores, through all major online booksellers, and by contacting the publisher directly at (609) 654-6500 or info(at)plexuspublishing(dot)com. For more about Jacket, including a schedule of author appearances, visit

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