The Mother Court


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“This lively account of a half-century of history of the nation’s oldest, and perhaps its most exciting, trial court, chronicling the Communist trials of the hysterical McCarthy era, the exposing of America to the literature of sex, prosecutions of Mafia cartels, and sensational libel cases, is peppered with the perceptive observations of a wise, experienced litigator – like flakes of chili and oregano on the choicest New York pizza.”

–Pierre N. Leval, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit


“A delightful, intelligent read. Jim Zirin’s sparkling account of life in the Second Circuit’s famed MOTHER COURT is informative, riveting, accessible, and uplifting.  It would be criminal not to read this book.”

–Linda Fairstein, Bestselling author and former prosecutor


“A round of applause for James Zirin’s Mother Court, a story engagingly, articulately and above all lovingly told.  ‘We had the experience but missed the meaning’—a T.S. Eliot quote cited in the book—could not be more apt.  Through Mr. Zirin’s eyes we do indeed come to appreciate the lasting contribution of our day-to-day Southern District encounters to the quality of our lives and fabric of our society.”

–Judith Kaye Former Chief Judge,  New York State Court of Appeals


“The Southern District of New York has been ground zero for many of this nation’s most famous—and infamous—courtroom dramas.  Now Jim Zirin has given this extraordinary court the history it has long deserved.  His narrative sparkles with colorful characters, compelling stories, and legal insights, all rendered in clear prose that will delight lawyers and laymen alike.”

–Christopher L. Eisgruber, President, Princeton University


“Zirin has all the skills vital to a good raconteur — an eye for the telling detail and for the quirks that make humans fascinating to other humans, a sense of humor, a brisk narrative style.  Wrap these together and apply them to a court that has been host to most of the most exciting and evocative trials in the last century of American history, and you have a marvelous read.”

 –Stephen F. Williams, United States Court of     Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit


“Every wannabe lawyer, practicing lawyer and anyone who wants a riveting and revealing read about legendary lawyers and cases should get this book. Mother Court bristles with inspiring, amusing and embarrassing actions and antics of lawyers and clients in some of the nation’s most celebrated cases. Thanks to Jim Zirin, what happened behind the scenes in Manhattan’s Southern District no longer stays there.”

–Joseph A. Califano, Jr.


“Jim Zirin reminds us that “the art of being a trial lawyer is the art of telling a story.” He has certainly learnt his craft, because the stories that he tells in Mother Court are riveting. They are also rich in the deep lessons of the law, the weave of high principle and human frailty, the fierce urgency of a courtroom confrontation and the deliberate and eternal search for justice.”

–Anne-Marie Slaughter


“Can a lawyer love a court? Jim Zirin does, and in this delightful book — often rollicking, sometimes pensive, always perceptive — he tells tales of the Pentagon Papers, the Rosenbergs, Roy Cohn, distinguished judges and extinguished mobsters, all as they appeared in the sovereign republic of the Southern District. Zirin has a lot to teach about lawyering and judging, and he makes it a pleasure to learn.”

–Scott Malcomson, Former Editor, New York Times Magazine


“Jim Zirin’s The Mother Court is a  ‘must read’ for anyone who knows or cares about the American system of justice. It’s a compelling view of the federal courthouse in New York’s Foley Square for those of us who’ve spent time there — reminding us of things we saw and showing us much that we didn’t. In the end, this book is a testament to the Rule of Law and all that it means for our way of life.”

–David Westin, Former President, ABC News


The Mother Court offers a window into the American justice system.  Zirin combines colorful historical narrative with personal experience and keen expertise in lawyering, taking us inside the world of one of America’s most important set of trial courts.”

–Matthew Waxman, Professor, Columbia Law School


“Colorful anecdotes, thorough research and incisive observations make the book a great read.  Zirin’s rich professional background and personal experiences practicing in “The Mother Court” allow him to speak with authority.”

–Michael F. Armstrong, Former District Attorney, Queens County, NY

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