Book Review: Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge

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Frederic Block, Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge, West Publishing, 2012, 445 pages, inclusive of endnotes & index of names, Hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-314-60662-4

Frederic Block has been a United States District Court judge in the Eastern District of New York for almost 20 years.  He worked in private practice for 34 years prior to being appointed to the bench.  This book would be an excellent addition to any law library as it offers a tremendous insight into the federal judiciary.  Judge Block divided his book into three parts: Part I: Getting There; Part II: Being There; and Part III: The Big Three.

Part I sets the tone for the rest of the book.  It is a great introduction to Judge Block, the man, and his road to the judicial bench.  Judge Block provides readers an insightful, often humorous, view of his journey to the bench.  He starts with his childhood, through college, law school and judicial clerkship.  He discusses his decision to go into private practice and how his rather unconventional practice, with all its political landmines, led to his appointment to the judicial bench.  Part II talks about being a new judge and how he found his place on the bench.  He speaks of his judicial colleagues, often with humor but always with respect.  He explains how he came to run his courtroom and how he handles the lawyers, the juries, and the parties who appear before him.  Part III of his book provides insider information to some of the more sensational cases of his career on the bench, including the race riots in Crown Heights, the Peter Gotti trial and his brush with more recent terrorism cases and many more.

Judge Block wrote in the introduction he was unaware of any book written by a federal judge for the general public “that is at once informative, provocative, and engaging” and he hoped that [Disrobed] is that book.  He succeeded on all counts.  Disrobed is a must have for any law library.

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