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25 TO LIFE: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth
by Leslie Crocker Snyder with Tom Shachtman
Warner Books, September 2002
337 pages
ISBN: 0446530204

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice, Leslie Crocker Snyder, was sitting in her courtroom when a court officer burst in and told her that there were reports of two out of state hit men coming to New York to kill her. All they knew for sure was that one man was white and the other was black and that the contract on her life was put out by a drug gang.

Judge Snyder's first concern was for her children and husband. She then thought of the lunch hour she spent to go shopping for Christmas presents just that day. Judge Snyder trembled as she realized she could have been killed that very afternoon.

This is a great start to a mystery or a thriller. It's the opening of a real page turner. Unfortunately, this is not the start of a fiction novel but the beginning of the very real story of Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder. All of it true.

The book, 25 TO LIFE is written by a real Supreme Court Justice, Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder. It tells us how she became a lawyer and eventually a judge in the borough of Manhattan, in New York City.

The hardback is filled with many of the cases she presided over as a judge and as a lawyer. By reading these cases you come to understand why Judge Snyder is known to be one of the toughest judges in New York City.

Reading about all these cases was interesting, and also a little scary. It causes you to think about all the horrible crimes that are filling our cities. Yet, I have to say that the most attention-grabbing part to me was reading about all the discrimination Judge Snyder had to fight in order to get to her position.

As a young lawyer working in the District Attorney's Office in the early 1970s, Leslie wanted to be transferred to the Homicide Division where she could prosecute murderers. This was unheard of at that time and no woman had ever been put into that section. When Leslie spoke to the supervisor of that division he told her he wanted a written permission slip from her husband saying that it was fine with him if she was transferred to homicide. Leslie thought he was joking and waited for him to laugh but he didn't. He was serious. When Leslie went home and told her husband about it he too thought that the supervisor was joking.

She did not ask or give in any kind of permission slip and Leslie did get the job - but not without a fight.

There were many times that Leslie ran across sex discrimination in her early years as a lawyer. Some 30 years ago there were no laws to stop it.

Although 25 TO LIFE is not the type of book that most people would like to read --with the possible exception of law students, I did find it pretty interesting. There's almost no confusing law terms and the few that Judge Snyder does mention are then clearly explained so that even non-lawyers can understand.

If you're fond of the law and case studies this is a great book. If you need some inspiration about a woman who worked her way to the top of the Manhattan Judicial System fighting all the barriers, this book is for you as well.

25 TO LIFE is easy to read and more importantly, to understand, but it is a little frightening. Reading about people who commits such heinous crimes and realizing that that you can run across them any day on any street corner, makes for terrifying reading..

Judge Snyder still gets many warnings about people hired to kill her.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, November 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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