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Brandt Goldstein: Author, Storming the Court


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Brandt Goldstein is author, storming the Court. He left the practice of law to concentrate solely on writing storming the Court and has been writing ever since.

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Brandt Goldstein: Author, Storming the Court

  1. 1. LAWCROSSING THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH LAW STAR 1. 800.973.1177 Brandt Goldstein: Author, Storming the Court [By Charisse Dengler] Once upon a time, there was a group of Yale Law School students who took on the U.S. government and won. Those students were Brandt Goldstein’s fellow classmates; and in his book Storming the Court , Goldstein tells their tale.“The story for the book was one of the great place. And nevertheless, if I’ve done my job keep America true to its highest principles,things that came out of law school for me,” right, it reads just like a thriller.” but about the perseverance of this incrediblyGoldstein says, “because it was my law beautiful, charismatic woman who simplyschool classmates who filed the case to free In order to capture the captivating story with wanted to get to freedom and save herthe first group of people held on Guantanamo complete accuracy, Goldstein conducted children.”[Bay] in the early ‘90s. In this case, though, what some would consider excessivethe detainees were 300 innocent political research. Since Storming the Court’s release,refugees, not suspected terrorists.” Goldstein has had several extraordinary “I interviewed 250 people—some of them experiences meeting or speaking with 40 or 50 times. I read tens of thousands ofAs Goldstein’s book describes, the refugees readers of the book, including a long pages of legal documents,” he said. “Then,were democracy activists who had fled a telephone call with William Sloane Coffin, I boiled it all down and tried to tell—not themilitary coup in Haiti. Officials from the first the real-life inspiration for Doonesbury’s story of a lawsuit—but a compelling humanBush administration denied them entry to the Reverend Sloan (Coffin died just months after story about law students standing up againstU.S. after they tested positive for HIV. Goldstein spoke with him); but Goldstein said the White House for what they believed in.” the two biggest highlights of the last yearUpon graduation from law school, Goldstein were giving a book reading at his hometown Currently, plans are underway to turn thedid what most law school graduates do: He bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI, and getting an well-received book into a major motionbegan practicing law in order to pay off his email from REM. picture, with Warner Bros. owning the filmlaw school loans. However, he said he knew rights and Michael Seitzman (who wroteduring the first hour that he wasn’t destined “The last four people I thanked in the North Country) set to write and direct theto be a “typical lawyer.” In October 1997, he book—without explaining to anyone who they film.left the practice of law to concentrate solely were—were Michael, Mike, Peter, and Bill,on writing Storming the Court and has been who are the four founding members of REM, “I always thought that this story about lawwriting ever since. though Bill Berry has left the band. A friend students fighting for justice against all odds of theirs—somebody I know who happens to and winning would appeal to some peopleThe book, which took almost seven years know their manager—passed on the book, because it’s a David and Goliath story, andto complete, was named one of the 10-best and I got an email from the manager and the those have been popular since the Bible,”nonfiction books of the year in 2005 by Kirkus band expressing real interest in the book and Goldstein said. “But realistically, mostReviews, probably because the gripping, Americans don’t pay very much attention to support for possibly having their music inreal-life story reads just like a novel. the movie. Obviously, I saved that email. You Haiti or Haitian refugees. So, I tried to tell the don’t get an email from a world-famous rock story of just one woman from Haiti so people“In the tradition of Truman Capote’s In Cold band everyday,” he said. could identify with her as an individual. SheBlood—I wanted it to read like a novel; but gets tortured in Port-au-Prince for her beliefit’s a nonfiction narrative,” he said. “Every In addition to Storming the Court, Goldstein in democracy and then, after fleeing for herword in it is true; and to back it up, the book life, ends up suffering brutal treatment at also co-authored Me v. Everybody: Absurdhas 30 pages of notes explaining the source the hands of the INS and American troops on Contracts for an Absurd World with Dahliaof every last snippet of material. I didn’t Lithwick. He and Lithwick, a senior editor Guantanamo.”modify or alter anything. It’s all based on at Slate, based the satirical work on ainterviews, newspaper articles, law review Valentine’s Day contract Lithwick had written “In the end, I hope the book resonates as apieces, travel to the places where things took during law school. tale not only about young people trying toPAGE continued on back
  2. 2. LAWCROSSING THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH LAW STAR 1. 800.973.1177“We took that idea and ran with it,” he said, “My biggest hope for this book is that it “I was $55,000 in credit card debt thanks to“We wrote everything from a contract that reaches a broader audience so people can writing this book,” he said. “I’d lost my have with your pet to one for a long-term read what I think is a compelling story about I’d lost my sense of direction, and sometimesrelationship to how to split a restaurant bill a woman who stood up for democracy in her I felt like I was losing my mind. But it’s likeamong four people.” home country of Haiti and ended up being Winston Churchill said, ‘Never, ever, ever, held on Guantanamo like a prisoner of war ever, ever give up.’”Goldstein also has somewhat of a cult and a group of students who took on thefollowing due to an article he wrote for White House to free her and won,” he said. If you are interested in inviting GoldsteinFindLaw’s Writ in 2000. Writ, which is “She’s now in the United States working a to speak at your law firm, public interestthe original legal commentary section of full-time job, and her son is in the Marines organization, or law school, he will be touringFindLaw, was created in 2000 by Goldstein, and recently came back from Iraq—kind of an again beginning in January 2007. He can beLithwick, and two of Goldstein’s Yale amazing coda to this story.” reached at His article, “The Real Ten BestLaw Schools,” is a spoof on the U.S. News When asked if he had any advice to give ON THE NETWorld Report annual ranking; and to say it is law students, Goldstein answered: “Don’tfunny would be an understatement. trust anyone’s advice, because it’s always Goldstein’s Real Ten Best Law Schools in the form of nostalgia packaged as people, Goldstein is working as a talking to themselves about what they wish commentary/20000620_goldstein.htmlcontributing feature writer for the online they’d done. With that caveat, I’d say it reallyaddition of the Wall Street Journal, pays not to become a lemming and do what Storming the Courtworking on the Documentary Companion to everyone else is doing. Struggle to think www.brandtgoldstein.comStorming the Court, writing book reviews about what you yourself—in your heart—wantfor publications such as the Washington to accomplish; and if it doesn’t involve, for Wall Street JournalPost and the Chicago Tribune, working on example, clerking for a judge, then don’t do it www.wsj.coma screenplay, doing research for his next just because other people are doing it.”book, and getting ready to join New YorkLaw School in the fall as a visiting scholar. Goldstein admitted that it took him a while toHe’ll also be addressing the entire incoming get things right. In fact, he said most peopleclass at Fordham Law School in August, and thought he was crazy for leaving the practicehe’s anticipating the release of Storming the of law without a concrete plan of what to doCourt in paperback this December. next.PAGE