Sworn Jury by John D. Mills

swornReviewed by Allen Hott

From the first page of Sworn Jury the reader spends most of his time in the courtroom. A very interesting look at the happenings of a murder trial and also at the lives of the participants.

Ray Harrison, the defense attorney matches wits with Brian Spere, the prosecuting attorney. Quite often Harrison also appears to be matching wits with Judge Gary Stalman, who has his own little bag of tricks. For one, the judge likes to “play” with the courtroom attendees by holding up his “Be seated” when he is announced and seated. Just his own little power play but it does keep all attendees on their toes.

Dallas Kelley is on trial for the murder of Bryce Cervante. The murder took place in an old Model T Ford that is on display at the Edison Estates in Fort Myers, Florida. Many of the characters in the story are somehow or another involved with the Edison Estates, which is a monument to Thomas A. Edison and displays many of his possessions and equipment.

Spere is building a case that Kelley murdered Cervante because of a battle that they had had over a real estate deal in which Cervante supposedly cheated Kelly of his opportunity to make a large amount of money. Cervante was known for his business acumen and/or perhaps shady deals that had made him one of the wealthiest lawyers in southwest Florida.

Cervante’s body was found in the Ford on the morning after a black tie gala that was held at the Edison Estates. Kelly had been sent away from the gala by the police after he had provoked a fistfight with Cervante and had threatened him verbally while leaving.

Defense Attorney Harrison, like many of the “heroes” in today’s literature, has not only a drinking problem but he also has (a) an ex-wife, whom he still appears to love and (b) a current girlfriend who gets involved in much of the story because she is a reporter for the local newspaper.

Each witness and his testimony get much coverage in Sworn Jury. The author gives the reader a very good insight to how witnesses are prepared prior to their appearance by the prosecution and then how the defense works to destroy their validity. The author’s background as a lawyer helps him to instill much realism in his writing of this book.

John D. Mills has developed a somewhat surprise ending, which is pretty much given away in the final third of the book but it is done in an off handed manner. However when the ending does come down it is in many ways not the ending the reader expects and somewhat leaves the final decision obscured. The writing is crisp and easy to follow. Mills allows the reader to move through his book quickly by holding attention well and not over describing every detail.

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