Review

Good Counsel

by Tim Junkin



Jack Stanton is a Washington, D. C. trial attorney whose career
follows a traditional path. As a public defender in the metro
criminal court system, he develops the reputation as a lawyer who
has the skills of a true advocate. After several years in the
courtroom crucible, Jack moves into private practice, where the
skills he acquired in government service now pay off with financial
reward. He is truly a rising star of the legal profession. His
success, however, comes with substantial cost.

When the reader first encounters Jack Stanton in Tim Junkin's GOOD
COUNSEL, that promising legal career is shattered and Jack is
facing criminal indictment. He is about to become a man with whom
he is painfully familiar: a criminal defendant with the full weight
of the government poised to destroy everything he has accomplished.
Stanton is aware that he will soon face criminal charges and he
chooses to flee rather than face his accusers.

As Stanton hides out in a rural Chesapeake Bay fishing community,
we begin to learn about his days as a young Washington, D. C.
public defender. In that capacity, Jack Stanton represented the
poor and downtrodden of the criminal justice system --- and he
learned that theory and actual practice are two very divergent
worlds. In the real world of trial advocacy, the Code of
Professional Responsibility must often take a back seat to the
responsibility owed a client. Jack Stanton learned these lessons
case by case and defendant by defendant in courtroom battles that
often found him pitted against Morgan Langrell, a career federal
prosecutor, and their career rivalry plays a critical role in GOOD
COUNSEL. As Stanton secrets himself from law enforcement officials,
he recalls many of these cases and ponders their impact on his
current predicament.

Sadly for Stanton, he is far less competent as a criminal on the
lam than as a trial attorney. His ability to remain hidden from law
enforcement is quickly compromised when the suspicious owner of a
general store notifies the police that Jack has been fishing
without a license. As the police close in, he desperately attempts
suicide by swimming far out into Chesapeake Bay. Before he can
drown, he is saved by Susannah "Muddy" Blair, a young woman who,
for reasons of her own, is willing to hide Jack from law
enforcement. The two slowly share with each other the story of the
deceptions in their lives that have led them both to distrust the
legal system. Both Stanton and Blair are characters with moral
flaws, facing dilemmas of conscience that they cannot resolve.
Susannah is unwilling to compromise in what she believes. Jack, on
the other hand, established his success on the ability to
compromise his standards at any opportunity. It is the contrast
between the two main characters that leads GOOD COUNSEL in many
interesting directions.

In GOOD COUNSEL, Tim Junkin has written a nontraditional courtroom
novel. While there are numerous courtroom scenes, they are almost
all in retrospect. Instead of following Jack Stanton's legal career
from the outside, we view it from his eyes, as he acknowledges that
attorneys often cut corners and care less for truth than they do
for justice. The unique structure of this novel does not make it
any less readable. It is a great summer vacation novel to read on
the beach, on an airplane, or simply in an easy chair. GOOD COUNSEL
is a page turner that ranks as a work of courtroom fiction. Tim
Junkin may not yet be John Grisham, William Bernhardt, or Scott
Turow, but he is a fine writer worthy of your consideration.
  

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 22, 2011

Good Counsel
by Tim Junkin

  • Publication Date: March 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • ISBN-10: 1565122844
  • ISBN-13: 9781565122840