In “The Defense”, the first novel in D.W. Buffa’s series about criminal defense attorney Joseph Antonelli, Buffa deals with some of the problems ordinary people have with the often bizarre outcomes of the U.S. criminal justice system. For instance, a talented defense attorney who can sound convincingly honest and goodhearted while tricking and browbeating prosecution witnesses can sometimes keep dangerous criminals from being jailed and leave them free to harm other innocent victims. The lawyers conscience is clear, because he is only providing the defendant with the best possible defense, as the system mandates.
This is what happens when Antonelli defends a man accused of raping his twelve-year-old step daughter, a man everyone knows is guilty, but whom Antonelli manages to free, in part by making the injured girl look like a liar.
The Greek chorus in this morality play is represented by Judge Leopold Rifkin, a student of philosophy who asks whether trial by jury is really the best possible system, and whether there might be a better way of achieving justice than a battle between opposing lawyers either or both of whom may simply be interested in winning for its own sake, not to mention for money, fame, and career advancement.
Since this is a morality play, the sinner receives his punishment in the end.