Just Pursuit by Laura Coates

A black prosecutor’s fight for fairness.

Laura Coates is a black woman in America who grew up with parents who fought to uphold and advance the work that people like Martin Luther King started. These strong ideals led to her working for the Department of Justice in the Civil Rights Division, but when she moved into work as a Prosecutor, she came to see a whole other side of the legal system in America. This book is an inside look at that system and how her loyalty to her oath to serve justice was at odds with her morals and principals. (Coates is now a CNN senior legal analyst and adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School)

Justice in the US, she tells us, is not the same as what’s right and fair and her inside knowledge of the court and legal system is the subject of this book. She shows us that Black communities are policed and prosecuted differently, and minorities are over represented in the prosecuted cases there. The author does this through stories. Each chapter is a story about a case that she worked on, from a man being tried with a crime that someone with a similar name committed (no one checked they had the right guy), to a defendant being deported and unethical interrogation practices. It’s not just the stories or cases themselves, but the attitudes of people working on these cases and the way that Coates was effected by them. She entered a system she believed in, in order to uphold her ideals and it’s crushing to see the reality of that system.

Laura Coates has a unique perspective with her knowledge of the law, being a Black person and then also being on the inside of the legal system. I think this book will be eye opening for a lot of people, and the author has written the book with a very human tone, without a lot of legal jargon, for example, which might have been off putting for some readers.

Read It If: a book for our times. It’s informative, heart felt but also written to reach a wide range of readers.

Thank you to Simon Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book for review.

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