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Batien, Jack.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1984. 250pp. cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-7715-9803-3. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Allan Kogon

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

The book's author, Jack Batten, was formerly a practising lawyer before choosing writing as a career. He has followed his earlier legal books, Lawyers (Macmillan, 1984) and In Court* with this biography of one of Canada's most prominant lawyers, John Josiah Robinette. The task is monumental. Robinette has been involved in so many significant cases that the author was only able to mention some of them and he was unable to go into their background and explore their full significance. Much of the material was derived from interviews with Robinette's professional colleagues and his family. Starting with a glimpse of his family and education, the author follows the highlights of Robinette's career until 1983 when Robinette successfully defended a Nova Scotia businessman in a complex influence peddling case. The only case discussed in detail is the Evelyn Dick murder case. The case involved a grisly murder with a dismembered body; Robinette's client was a woman with a scandalous sex life and a talent for making up tales. Robinette's successful defence of the murder charge catapulted his career into the limelight.

The book is easy to read. The immensity of Robinette's fifty-five-year career makes it difficult for the author to be more than superficial. Although interesting, for me there are not many revealing perspectives on the man or his work. Each chapter is self-contained, and there is an unusual index of proper names and legal cases referred to in the text. This is a pleasant book that may stimulate more people to become aware of some of the truly significant Canadian personalities.

Allan Kogon, Georgetown, Ont.

*Reviewed volXI/5 September 1983 p.212.

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