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The Citebook

by Tony Darwin, Starlite, Inc., 2004, 20th ed., 308 pp., $35.95, soft cover

Review by Michael Rigby

For anyone not trained in the law, navigating the U.S. judicial system can be a daunting prospect. But with knowledge comes confidence, and that's exactly what Tony Darwin provides with The Citebookthe nation's number one selling legal assistance manual.

In this prisoner-friendly reference guide, Darwin lists the cases integral to various types of litigation, by category, and gives a short synopsis detailing the importance of each. Categories include search and seizure; Brady violations; civil and constitutional rights; courts, judges and trials; cruel and unusual punishment; drugs; First amendment; freedom of information; habeas corpus; marriage, divorce and children; medical; parole-probation-supervised release; and prison rules and regulations, just to name a few.

But The Citebook is more than its name implies. Through this often humorous, always relevant book, Darwin eases the fear of pro se litigation by walking the reader through the legal landscape using layman's terms and providing practical, down-to-earth advice each step of the way.

The Citebook contains an informative introduction. Part I is an overview of the U.S. judicial system, including state and federal courts, administrative agencies (which include all state and federal prisons) and the books used in legal research. Part II gives readers a basic understanding of the various types of pleadings, the terms used, and how to construct an effective writ. Darwin provides a few sample forms in this section as well.

Throughout The Citebook, Darwin provides some helpful hints (be sure to exhaust all administrative remedies when applicable), warns of some common mistakes (never infer in your brief that the judge is biased, lazy or unfaireven if it's true), and relates some interesting tidbits through his "CB Zingers."

The Citebook contains a number of other notable features, too, including useful charts such as drug retention periods, disabilities laws by state, and flow charts of civil procedure and criminal law.

The ancillary index provides a wealth of relevant information, including a chart of the 13 federal judicial circuits, Amendments 1-14 of the U.S. Constitution, commonly used legal words, legal epigrams (famous quotes), legal latin, legal quips (phrases to impress) and types of relief.

Pursuing your own lawsuit doesn't have to be scaryas long as you're armed with the knowledge you'll need to effectively litigate your case. With The Citebook, you'll be well on your way to success.

The Citebook is published yearly by Starlite, Inc. Copies can be ordered directly from Prison Legal News for $35.95, shipping included, write in Citebook on the order form on page 46.

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