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Book Review: 'If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit?'

Sunday, 24 November 2002 12:00 AM

His first book, "If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit?" has two ambitious challenges to overcome: to make the law easy to understand and to make the reader laugh in the process. The first is daunting enough, but to bring humor into a usually dry subject is always a risk.

However, Carter is up to these Herculean tasks, as he proves in the introduction and disclaimer sections at the beginning of his book. His humor as he explains what is not in the book is masterful, as the following excerpt shows:

"Before reading any further, I want to make clear this book is not a do-it-yourself guide to the law. This book will not teach you how to write a will, form a corporation, or commit a double murder in Brentwood and get away with it. The purpose of this book is to give you a basic understanding of the law. This basic understanding is meant to serve you in your daily interactions. However, it is not intended to make you into the next F. Lee Bailey (or even Beetle Bailey for that matter)."

Carter's humor runs the gamut from pop culture to popular figures. He leaves very few people unscathed, himself included. This is perhaps one of the best features of his writing. He has the courage to poke fun at himself as well as others, going from comments about the "extremely handsome author" to comments about his own incompetence as a lawyer.

The chapters of the book are as diverse in subject matter as Carter's jokes. The six main sections involve constitutional law, contract law, torts, property law, criminal law and courtroom law. Each chapter within the section deals with a different facet of the main subject, and at the end there is a "quiz" testing what you've read. Although there is usually one serious answer for each question, the other answers are well worth reading for a chuckle or two.

So, we've established that Carter accomplished the second goal to make the law funny, but does he make the law understandable? The answer to this is "absolutely." Carter brings a layman's perspective to a lawman's profession and he takes great pains to ensure no one gets lost in legalese. Whenever possible, he has simplified the process and concepts he's discussing, but he does a good job in keeping as close to the spirit and letter of the law as he can.

Sean Carter's "If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit?" is an enjoyable and informative book for anyone looking to get a crash course in the law. And it's much cheaper than going to law school.

Thomas Lindaman is the editor of CommonConservative.com (http://www.commonconservative.com).

Sean Carter's weekly legal humor column appears in newspapers and magazines across the country, as well as leading Web sites.

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His first book, "If It Does Not Fit, Must You Acquit?" has two ambitious challenges to overcome: to make the law easy to understand and to make the reader laugh in the process. The first is daunting enough, but to bring humor into a usually dry subject is always a...
Book,Review:,'If,Does,Not,Fit,,Must,You,Acquit?'
469
2002-00-24
Sunday, 24 November 2002 12:00 AM
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