Saturday, January 30, 2021

My Crime Beat Column: Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer In 'The Law Of Innocence'

Earlier this month crime novelist Michael Connelly announced on his website that his character Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, would debut in a series on Netflix. The character previously appeared in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer and starred Matthew McConaughey. 

The announcement came as his latest novel, The Law of Innocence, his sixth novel that features Mickey Haller, is now in bookstores.

“I’m excited to announce that after a bit of a journey, Mickey Haller will come to life once again on screen - this time in the TV series adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer coming to Netflix and starring the wonderful and talented Manuel Garcia-Rulfo," (seen in the above photo), Michael Connelly wrote.

 “The Lincoln Lawyer series will be adapted to serve up the complex and mysterious arcs fans know and love with a mix of light-hearted humor and a dose of family dynamics. 

“Mickey Haller, an iconoclastic idealist, runs his law practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, as he takes on cases big and small across the expansive city of Los Angeles,” Mr. Connelly explains. “Manuel is the ideal Mickey Haller, as Haller follows in the footsteps of his attorney father with the showmanship of his Mexican movie star mother. Manuel brings a powerful dynamic and dimension to the role - one that aligns with the books and will give the show the opportunity to celebrate the Latinx heritage and roots of this Los Angeles-based story.” 

In The Law of Innocence, Mickey Haller faces his toughest criminal case as he is also the client. Falsely accused of murder, the seasoned lawyer represents himself, despite the adage that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. 

After celebrating his victory in a criminal case with friends and colleagues at a bar, Haller is arrested and charged with first-degree murder after he is pulled over by a police officer and during the stop the officer discovers a body in the trunk of his Lincoln Town Car. The dead body in the trunk is Sam Scales, a despicable grifter and con artist who bilked victims out of their donations to phony charitable campaigns. Haller had represented Scales in the past. 

Haller is held in jail without bail due to a judge who holds a grudge against the defense lawyer. He martials his defense behind bars with the help of his legal team. The team includes Michael Connelly’s popular character, retired LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, Haller’s half-brother. The team also includes Haller’s investigator, former biker Dennis “Cisco” Wojciechowski, and his law partner Jennifer Aronson. 

As Haller, the first-person narrator of the crime novel, notes, one is proven guilty or not guilty in a trial, but the defendant is not proven innocent. 

“The law of innocence is unwritten It will not be found in a leather-bound codebook. It will never be argued in a courtroom. It cannot be written into law by the elected. It is an abstract idea and yet it closely aligns with the hard laws of nature and science,” Haller explains.” In the law of physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the law of innocence, for every man not guilty of a crime, there is a man out there who is. And to prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world.” 

Haller’s plan is to go further than a jury verdict and expose the true guilty party and make his own innocence clear. 

“The only way to prove I didn’t do it is to prove who did,” Haller tells Scales’ former cell mate in an interview. “That’s the law of innocence.” 

As Haller tells it, a trial often comes down to who is a better storyteller, the prosecutor or the defense. “There is evidence, of course, but physical evidence is at first interpreted for the jury by the storyteller.” 

Haller’s investigation leads to a biofuel scam called “bleeding the beast,” in which the government is cheated out of subsidies for producing recycled oil. The scam is run by Louis Opparizio, a mobster that Haller once humiliated on the stand in a case some years prior. By exposing Opparizio’s shady dealings in court, the mobster lost millions when the Federal Trade Commission reversed a merger he had developed.     

Michael Connelly, a former Los Angeles Times crime reporter, uses detailed research to infuse his crime novels with realistic situations and current events. That realism makes his characters more believable and the plots more interesting.     

Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence is a fast-paced, well-written legal thriller. 

The Law of Innocence

By Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, $29, 432 pages.

You can also read my Q&A with Michael Connelly via the below link:

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