Everyone against Us: Public Defenders and the Making of American Justice (Chicago Visions and Revisions) (Hardcover)

Everyone against Us: Public Defenders and the Making of American Justice (Chicago Visions and Revisions) By Allen Goodman Cover Image

Everyone against Us: Public Defenders and the Making of American Justice (Chicago Visions and Revisions) (Hardcover)


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A former public defender testifies to the vivid human suffering at the heart of America’s criminal justice system.

As a public defender, Allen Goodman faced cross-examination from family and friends every day: How could he work to help criminals? How could he live with himself? Presumed guilty by association, Goodman quickly learned that people didn’t really want an answer; they wanted a justification, perhaps even an apology. Ever the idealist, Goodman answered anyway: Everyone deserves justice.

Everyone against Us is Goodman’s testimony of his life as a public defender. In it, he documents his efforts to defend clients, both guilty and innocent, against routine police abuse, prosecutorial misconduct, and unjust sentencing. To work in criminal justice, Goodman shows, is to confront and combat vivid human suffering, of both victims and perpetrators. From sex trafficking, murder, and abuse to false conviction, torture, and systemic racism, Goodman describes the daily experiences that both rattled his worldview and motivated him to work ever harder. Part memoir, part exposé, Everyone against Us is the moving story of an embattled civil servant who staves off the worst abuses of the criminal justice system, at great personal cost.
Allen Goodman is a former attorney from Cook County, Illinois with over twenty years of experience practicing criminal law as a public defender in the Chicago area and at global firms in the United States and Israel. He lives in Tel Aviv.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226826233
ISBN-10: 0226826236
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: April 24th, 2023
Pages: 280
Series: Chicago Visions and Revisions
“Goodman tells a very personal tale of nine years spent in the American criminal justice system, through travesties and victories, large and small. . . . From his first encounter with a client to the moments when some clients received their guilty verdict from a jury and were escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs, Goodman skillfully weaves a true tale of insightful advocacy and compelling conclusions. . . . He draws us in to the sights, sounds, and smells of the criminal legal system, forcing us to experience it with him because otherwise we might prefer to avoid it and thus avoid questioning its presumptions.”
— Los Angeles Review of Books

“[An] important work of pulling the curtain back on the immense value of often-maligned public defenders.”
— Booklist

“As the title of Goodman’s sobering book graphically conveys, public defenders often feel that everyone’s against us. While offering a firsthand view of the endemic corruption, racism, and wholesale injustice regularly practiced by police, prosecutors, and judges in criminal courts, Goodman sets the record straight and captures the true essence of the many dedicated public defenders across this country who are, as he writes, ‘overworked, underpaid, and vastly underappreciated guardians of liberty on behalf of those who need it most.’"
— Flint Taylor, The People’s Law Office, author of 'The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago'

“In Everyone against Us, Goodman offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a public defender in one of the nation’s largest criminal court systems. The result is a gripping and often heartbreaking memoir about one lawyer’s journey to find meaning and justice despite the odds against him.”
— Kevin Davis, author of 'Defending the Damned: Inside a Dark Corner of the Criminal Justice System'

“Goodman’s fast-paced introduction to the harsh, unbalanced world of criminal justice leads readers from the dungeons of a big-city lockup through soul-jarring crime-scene investigations into the colorless chambers where the fates of the accused get decided. While weighing defenders’ and prosecutors’ roles, ideals, and actual practices, Everyone against Us reads like an on-the-job legal drama.”
— Mara Leveritt, author of 'Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three'