National Lawyers Guild
(T)he importance of Terry’s book and the critical lesson it teaches, is that when you litigate in US courts and you are fighting for true justice, you are in enemy territory. If US courts were just, Leonard Peltier would not have spent the last four decades in prison. If there were even a measure of justice, Sam Sheppard would have been exonerated and his son, scarred for life by the experience of having his mother murdered and his father accused and railroaded, would have received some compensation and, maybe more important, acknowledgment of the wrongs done to him as a seven-year-old. If there were justice, young people duped by government agents into violating the law would not consider an eight or ten-year prison sentence something of a victory. Yet these are the cases Terry spends his time describing.
Cleveland lawyer Terry Gilbert, with the assistance of his co-author Carlo Wolff, bares his soul in his newly released autobiography Trying Times: A Lawyer’s 50-Year Struggle Fighting for Rights in a World of Wrongs. As the subtitle reflects, the work chronicles his 50 years at the bar. But it is much more than that. Through anecdotes and narratives, Terry tells of his journey from being a lower-middle class Jewish boy from Cleveland Heights to a nationally known civil rights lawyer.
The last chapter alone is worth the price of the book itself, and you’ll probably want to read it twice, as I did, as the authors make it crystal clear what is presently at risk in the United States as authoritarian forces seek to undermine the rule of law, voting rights and the basic freedoms guaranteed to us all by the Bill of Rights. The attack on democracy today is frighteningly stark, as is an equally frightening and growing bias to fascist, xenophobic and racist thinking.
The story of a lawyer fighting for those who need him the most.
At a time in our history when we are consumed by what the “bad guys” are doing it is a pleasure to read about someone who has dedicated his career to fighting for those who need an advocate. Terry Gilbert is that advocate! He truly is a hero and his book was a joy to read. I highly recommend it.
Both Personal and Educational
Reading this book provides the reader with two perspectives at the same time. I learned a tremendous amount about an important Cleveland figure, but also a lot about the national and local politics of the era.Very Highly Recommended!
Lawyer for the People
Our Constitution provides, and our Justice system needs to ensure, that all rights are protected. Terry Gilbert’s excellent book tells the story of a lawyer who has dedicated his life to defending the rights of the accused, no matter how unpopular, and the risks, sadness, joys and fulfillment attendant to that crusade. Highly recommended!
A must read for anyone thinking about practicing law!
As a fellow member of the bar, albeit in another state, I give thanks for Terry Gilbert’s tireless and dogged pursuit of justice for the underserved and the wrongfully convicted. His book should be required reading for all law school students, he is an inspiration to all of us and society has been bettered by his efforts. A must read.
Truly, the Peoples’ Lawyer
If you’ve been drawn to the Black Lives Matter movement and intrigued by “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” you may want to read this memoir by Cleveland-based attorney Terry Gilbert.
It’s the story of a rough-around-the-edges, working-class Jew who was radicalized by the May 1970 massacre at Kent State into becoming a “people’s lawyer” involved in some of the great civil rights fights of his generation, including the defense of American Indian sovereignty at Wounded Knee and some of the first criminal defense cases using DNA.
Gilbert represents the families of dozens of young blacks who’ve been brutalized by overzealous police: their stories (as told with the help of co-writer Carlo Wolff) are heartbreaking. So is the story of Sam Reese Sheppard, a client who spent decades trying to clear the name of his infamous father, Dr. Sam Sheppard, who’d been falsely accused of killing his mother.
Venturing where few lawyers dare to go, Gilbert comes off as passionate, principled, media-savvy, and courageous; when he loses a high-profile case, he keeps his eye on the long-term goal of helping to bend the moral arc towards justice. Now he is passing the torch of progressive lawyering to a new generation of activists.
The 60s and 70s were a turning point in the crisis of race relations.
Since my younger days, unfortunately, we’re spent in almost total oblivion of what African Americans, American Indians, and Prisoners were going through, I found Trying Times to be very informative of that era up through today. I was in my own little world and wish that I had been more aware then. Terry captures the unfairness in our legal system as well as the obstacles encountered by people of color. Terry’s honest portrayal of himself and his life is very refreshing and the writing was easy to read.
William A. Reed