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The Trials of Kate Hope by Warwick Downing

The Trials of Kate Hope

by Warwick Downing

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To read our full review, go to The Reading Tub®.
  TheReadingTub | Apr 30, 2010 |
Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

It's the summer of 1973. Kate Hope is just your average 14-year-old girl. She's got school to deal with (though it's summertime). She's got a friend who's a boy who she's not quite sure if he's her boyfriend or not. And, oh yeah, she's a lawyer!

Her almost-blind grandfather has had Kate helping him in his law office for the past few years. With his failing eyesight, he's needed help with the reading and researching of his cases. And he found a loophole in Colorado's law that allowed Kate to sit for the bar exam. It wasn't easy, but she passed the exam, and is now a practicing lawyer. At least that's what her law license says.

Her grandfather still handles the trial work, but as his health comes and goes, Kate starts handling more of the responsibility. After he collapses and ends up in the hospital, Kate has to take a case to trial on her own. She's nervous and scared, but a dog's life or death depends on her. An elderly woman's dear pet is being blamed for an injury to a small child, but Kate and Miss Willow know Herman wouldn't intentionally hurt anyone!

THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE is an amusing look at what the life of a teen girl would be like if she could actually practice law. There's so much that Kate has to learn about life yet, but her youthful take on things may just let innocent people (and dogs!) go free! ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 13, 2009 |
Richie's Picks: THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE by Wick Downing, Houghton Mifflin, April 2008, 329 p., ISBN: 978-0-618-89133-7

"I hate being fourteen. My calves are huge, my ankles are thick, my chest is a cavity, and my right elbow is larger than my left one."

In so many ways Kate is a typical fourteen-year-old who is beginning her summer vacation. But in 1973 Denver, Colorado, at the height of the modern Women's Rights Movement, Kate is actually a one-of-a-kind teenager: She is now a practicing attorney.

"My stomach hurt as I zipped back to the office. 'Your young man called,' Mrs. Roulette said, 'He'd like you to call him.'
"'Mike Doyle is not my young man!' The office had emptied except for Miss Willow, who sat huddled in a corner. 'I can't call him now. Miss Willow and I have to be in Judge Steinbrunner's courtroom in twenty minutes.'"

Having spent quality time with her curmudgeonly, sharp-but-nearly-blind, attorney grandfather, Kate has taken advantage of an old law that was still on the books in Colorado to obtain her law license. (In his Authors Note the author presents the case for this being possible.)

"'It's Kate Hope!' the receptionist said, smiling at me. She knew who I was, which was nice. All the receptionists, and secretaries, and the women who did all the work that men got credit for, knew who I was. I got energy from them too, because they wanted me to succeed. 'How are you, honey?'
"'Great,' I lied."

While Kate is primarily working by assisting her grandfather -- including helping with a case quite topical for 2008 involving a Mexican citizen who is in Denver on a work permit -- she ends up taking charge of a death penalty case: Elderly Miss Willow's only family -- her dog, Herman -- has been accused of getting loose in City Park and biting the Pearsan's baby. He is about to be euthanized unless Kate does something quickly:

"Her voice was one step from hysteria. 'There's no time to lose. Officer Milliken wants to put an end to the dog today. He will take the paperwork to the city attorney's office himself, and will walk it through.'
"'What does that mean?'
"'He will have the city attorney write up an order, ordering Animal Control to "destroy" Herman! That's what the law calls killing dogs. Then he will take the order to the judge and have it signed, and come back to the shelter, and...' Her voice trailed off to a gasp.
"'And what?'
"'He will see to Herman himself.'
"I was shocked. 'You mean he'll kill him personally?'
"'Why?' I asked. 'Is he a sadist or something? What's the big hurry? Why does it have to be today? What about Miss Willow?'"

The series of steps Kate takes in trying to determine what really happened that day in City Park and the extended effort she puts forth in trying to save Herman's life is dramatic, realistic, and eye-opening. Author Wick Downing is a retired lawyer who has written numerous legal thrillers for adults. The manner in which he has fit together the pieces of the tale of the dog makes THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE an exceptionally quick and engaging 300+ page read.

"As the jurors filed back into the box, I considered my options. Was suicide an alternative? No, I thought, trying to cheer myself up. Mom would kill me."

For young adolescents caught up in trying to understand exactly how adults determine what is fair, and for those who are fascinated by the processes and rituals of our system of laws and the seeking of justice, THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE provides an intriguing, entertaining (and frequently ugly) look at the inner workings of American jurisprudence.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/
http://www.myspace.com/richiespicks ( )
  richiespicks | May 21, 2009 |
Denver. 1973. Some of the old territorial laws are still on the books, and that means that Kate Hope, age 14, is a bona fide practicing lawyer, part of Hope & Hope, Attorneys, with her grandfather. What started out as her helping out in the office because of "Judge" Hope's failing eyesight has turned in to a genuine appreciation for the law and the hard work that goes into preparing wills, helping people who are about to get evicted, and trying to prove your case to a jury. Judge Hope's goal is to help the downtrodden at all costs, and when he gets ill, it is up to Kate to go to court and argue the case for Herman, a German shepherd, who accused of being a dangerous dog and is on doggie death row. Kate knows that Herman would never hurt anyone, and sets out to prove it to the judge and jury, all the while proving to herself that she IS capable of practicing law. Includes information at the end about points of law and whether this could have really happened. ( )
  becker | Feb 2, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618891331, Hardcover)

When she was not yet a teenager, Kate Hope started “reading law” in the office of “Judge” Hope, her half-blind grandfather, a grumpy eighty-nine-year-old lawyer with problems. One big problem is that he believes in justice for all, not just those who can afford it. He also needs a partner. Together they find a loophole in Colorado law, and Kate becomes a lawyer—technically. She has a law license hanging on the wall in her office, but she has no idea how to practice law. In a courtroom. With a judge and jury and defendants.
It doesn’t help that things don’t start out so well for Kate’s legal career. The firm of Hope and Hope has an unusual first case, and if they lose it, a dog named Herman—the only friend an old woman has—will be destroyed. But Grandfather falls ill, leaving Kate to try the case on her own. Will Kate be able to save Herman from doggy death row? Will Grandfather Hope recover in time to make it to the courtroom? Will life ever be normal again for Kate Hope? Will justice be served?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:31 -0400)

At the young age of fourteen, Kate Hope is licensed to practice law in the state of Colorado in 1973, and with the help of her lawyer grandfather, and memories of her dead father, also a lawyer, she tries the case of a dog that is slated to be destroyed for attacking a baby.… (more)

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