The Appeal – a book with relevance today

With the pandemic, I have been catching up on the many unread books we still have on our shelves. Recently, I finished a book John Grisham published in 2008 called “The Appeal,” that was #1 on The New York Times bestseller list back then.

Even though it is twelve years old, the theme is relevant today. Without giving too much away, a married couple law team in a small town in Mississippi win a court case for their client against a company who had been proven to dump poisonous waste chemicals that made it into her community’s water supply. Their client lost both her husband and son to cancer as did many others in the county. She was awarded $41 million including punitive damages.

While others awaited to file suit, the verdict gave them reason to hope. The verdict was expected to be appealed, so no money traded hands. The CEO of the holding company for the chemical company decided to be proactive at the behest of a senior Mississippi Senator known for his wealth amassed through lobbyist funding. So, the CEO hires a secretive consulting firm whose expertise will help to unseat a less-friendly (to companies) judge running for reelection. Most of the $8 million fee is off shore and never declared.

The consulting firm recruits a young lawyer, with a young family and no baggage or judicial experience. So, he has no rulings that could be highlighted in a negative way. Once on board, they quietly fund his campaign commercials and strategy before announcing his candidacy. In essence, they use a surprise attack and overwhelm the sitting judge who thinks she is unopposed and has not raised funds.

I will stop there. The scary part is how easily this could be done. People were convinced to vote for this young, photogenic judge with a nice family, not knowing he was going to severely limit liability for companies who screwed people like these voters. He was supposed to be their judge.

So, when I see the stated reasons why judges are running, it makes me want to dig further. The true reason for a well-funded campaign is money. What judge will be the most friendly to companies? I have said this earlier, whether it is a supreme court seat or appellate court or some other court, lip service is given to issues that interest the voters. But, what interests the lobbyists is counting on a reliable vote in their industry’s favor.

6 thoughts on “The Appeal – a book with relevance today

  1. Not easy to ‘Follow the Money ‘though I’m sure it could be done but for sure Money is involved from Tobacco Industries the NRA and the like and the Senate who are paid to work for the Nation and others are there with their hands out. John Grisham’s book may be fiction but you may be sure if it happened back then it probably has now, Trump is making payment in kind with his judicial appointments for all the votes and monetary help he got in his campaigns and since.

    • David, true on all counts. In this case, the selected candidate is paraded in front of various “family values” groups. If they knew, the intent was to let a very rich person get away with intentionally poisoning many people with no resources, they may have thought twice. So, when I see that some think Trump is God-sent, if they only knew they were duped. Keith

  2. Yes. And having the “disgusting” folks with sweaty hands wait for monetary relief until after he wins is a sterling example (like having a health care plan). (Would he lie to you?) I’ve been advised to stock up on long-lasting food. What do you think?

    • Nan, that is a big question. First, do not believe a word the president says -the odds are well in your favor. Don’t buy anything you don’t need and spend wisely. With that said, don’t forget your favorite restaurants and get safe take out. And, of course wear masks and socially distance. Finally, vote early. Keith

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