Alfredo Mirandé, a sociology professor, Stanford Law graduate, and part-time pro bono attorney, represents clients who are rascuache—a Spanish word for "poor" or even "wretched"—and on the
margins of society. For Mirandé, however, rascuache means to be "down but not out," an underdog who is still holding its ground. Rascuache Lawyer offers a unique perspective on providing legal
services to poor, usually minority, folks who are often just one short step from jail. Not only a passionate argument for rascuache lawyering, it is also a thoughtful, practical attempt to apply and
test critical race theory—particularly Latino critical race theory—in day-to-day legal practice.
This book focuses on the manner in which the court systemhandles cases of Latino criminal defendants and how the system itself is biased. It will provide lawyers with a very good road map for litigation and the many pitfalls they will encounter as they represent this unique class of clients.
—Henry Flores, co-author of Mexican Americans and the Law: ¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!
Every chapter presents an actual case from Mirandé's experience (only the names and
places have been changed). His clients have been charged with everything from carrying a concealed weapon, indecent exposure, and trespassing to attempted murder, domestic violence, and child abuse.
Among them are recent Mexican immigrants, drug addicts, gang members, and the homeless. All of them are destitute, and many are victims of racial profiling. Some "pay" Mirandé with bartered services
such as painting, home repairs, or mechanical work on his car. And Mirandé doesn't always win their cases. But, as he recounts, he certainly works tirelessly to pursue all legal remedies.
Each case is presented as a letter to a fascinating (fictional) "Super Chicana" named Fermina Gabriel, who we are told is an accomplished lawyer, author, and singer. This narrative device allows the
author to present his cases as if he were recounting them to a friend, drawing in the reader as a friend as well.
Bookending the individual cases, Mirandé's introductions and conclusions
offer a compelling vision of progressive legal practice grounded in rascuache lawyering.