Tales from the Bench
By Dermot Meagher
Here at last are the best of Dermot Meagher’s tales of life as a judge in Boston Municipal Court, where he presided over real-life cases rivaling the best of David E. Kelley’s The Practice, Boston Legal, and Ally McBeal. These true-to-life stories, some of which first appeared in Boston and DoubleTake magazines, showcase a writer of rare talent and humor: a Harvard-educated “man of the people,” who has seen it all yet never lost his ability to be surprised by the parade of humanity that came before his bench—from the offbeat to the curiously affecting to the downright tragic (not to mention tragicomic). A wise, wry, and disarmingly humane observer of human foibles, Judge Meagher waives judicial discretion and deliberates in a way more familiar to literature than to any court of law (but with names changed to protect the innocent as well as the not-so-innocent). Judge Meagher’s great achievement in Judge Sentences is to give us a voice of justice rendered as kindness and humor rather than judgment and discipline. In these hugely appealing and provocative tales of dysfunction and conflict, readers have the privilege of experiencing a side of Boston (and America) that is otherwise largely hidden from public view. Real life often is stranger than fiction, and Judge Meagher shows us just how strange—and how urgent and real—it can be.