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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Qualified Immunity

A Casey Cort Legal Thriller Series

Series: Casey Cort (Book #1 of 10)

ISBN: 9781940811062

Publisher: Penner Media

Publication Date: 11/17/2014

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars + +

Sheila Harrison Grant is the first African American woman ever nominated to the federal bench in Cleveland. But when her thirteen-year-old daughter Olivia shares a family secret with a well-meaning guidance counselor, she sets the wheels in motion to feed a partisan senate’s opposition, threatening her mother’s position…and both of their lives.

Once an ambitious young law student with promise, Casey Cort made the mistake of crossing a classmate from a prominent and influential family. Now she works as an unfulfilled, faceless cog in a broken legal system. When fate gives Casey a second chance, she has to set aside her lack of faith in justice and find the strength to fight for those with nowhere else to turn.

In this first novel of the Casey Cort series, Sylvie Fox—a former trial lawyer in Cleveland—weaves a tale that blends the best of today’s top legal thrillers with the heart and soul of women’s fiction, in a story ripped from real-world headlines.

Qualified Immunity is now 'JUDGED' with a new cover! See all the new books with new names and covers in the Casey Cort Legal Thriller Series.

Casey Cort Legal Thriller Series

My Review

QUALIFIED IMMUNITY ( Now, JUDGED with new name and cover) by Aime Austin (Casey Cort Series #1)

is a “must read” intriguing new series which crosses several genres:

Women’s fiction, legal, crime, drama, mystery, racial and social injustice, contemporary, and humor—assured to blow you away.

A compelling yet realistic portrayal—a riveting firsthand account of the injustices of our legal and social system, and its horrific repercussions. Frightening, the events in the novel, could happen to any parent or household in today’s world, at the hands of an unfair system.

I am happy to introduce this new found author which I am loving! Sylvie Fox writes spicy contemporary romance featuring quirky characters, and emotionally driven women’s fiction about ordinary women facing extraordinary challenges.

QUALIFIED IMMUNITY (JUDGED) is written under the name Aime Austin (not a romance) however, a riveting legal crime thriller series and suspense drama filled with racial issues, insights, and human dynamics, told from three POVs, making for a heartwarming and emotional read, as we hear from three different generations of strong women.

Judge and Mother: Sheila Harrison Grant is the first African American woman ever nominated to the federal bench in Cleveland. She has had to work ten times harder than any white person, or man in order to become law partner and later a federal judge. She is a single mother, intelligent, sophisticated, self-assured, with a high stress job, and enjoys a few drinks at home in the evenings to unwind. Shelia is not a part of (Mommies and Muffins), as her job always came first. She tends to be late picking up her thirteen year old daughter, from school and events, due to her career; however loves her even though they are not BFFs. She cannot afford to be soft, as she has worked too hard to escape her poor background to achieve her status. She wants the best for her daughter and expects her to make good grades, and believes education and hard work is the way to make it in today’s world.

She also holds a secret.

(which you may find the answer in #10).

Daughter: Olivia, age thirteen, having recently moved to a new school and neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks, in order to for her mom to become judge and leave the prestigious firm (another story here) a good one. She has no current relationship with her dad, as he has never paid child support and has had no contact since the grandmother died. Olivia does not fit in at the new school, is bullied, and has no friends. Her mom is pretty strict, has high expectations, and does not feel the need to buy her new hip clothes so she can fit in—yet her mom has an expensive new car. Her grades are poor as she is too focused on trying to please her mom, and worrying how to fit in with the peers at school. She thinks her mom has a drinking problem, and she cannot talk to her about her world--her teen concerns with clothes, friends, grades, and school.

Casey Cort: Now in her thirties. Once an ambitious young Caucasian law student, with a promising career, made the mistake crossing a classmate from a prominent and influential family (she told the truth). She found herself blacklisted, jobless, no boyfriend, and rather than a successful law career she has worked so hard to attain. Now she finds herself with hefty student loans, an unfulfilled and poor struggling attorney working on a case by case basis as public defender, fighting a broken and injustice legal system, dealing with juvenile and family services. She currently has no money to pay her rent and a “not so bright” future as an attorney.

Readers get to experience the sad yet realistic meaning of “Qualified Immunity” as many hide behind this law. When the book opens, Judge Grant is presiding over a case before her, from Assistant County Prosecutor representing the Department of Children and Family Services. A young lady Precious is suing the county for a huge amount of money for pain and suffering and specialized counseling.

The County wants to dismiss the complaint, stating the county is “immune” from liability because none of the social workers were indifferent to her care, as anytime there was a problem she was just moved to a new placement (Nine times, beaten and sexually abused at more than one county placement)!

However, they were indirectly responsible for the trauma and abuse--while the legally right decision for the Judge is not going to be the morally right one, her job is to decide the legal issues, and in this case she knows the county is not responsible for the abuse at the hands of foster parents and will not be held accountable.

Later, Shelia and Casey’s world collide, when an overzealous new young school counselor develops a girls group at Olivia’s school, where the girls are urged to share their concerns (confidentially), and becomes the beginning of a nightmare for both mother and daughter. However, fate gives Casey a second chance, to find the strength to fight for those with nowhere else to turn.

I LOVE crime legal thrillers with social workers and attorneys who fight the system and racial injustice; to defend the less fortunate and not afraid to fight corruptions and politics and risk their lives (even if they have to cross the lines, in order to protect the welfare of their client, to escape the bureaucracy).

Sadly, child welfare continues to be an area of social work practice that is fraught with periodic public controversy due to the persistence of child abuse and neglect in our society and the tragic results when appropriate intervention is lacking. Social workers in child protection agencies are often involved in making discretionary decisions about removing children from their families to protect them from harm. In some instances parents challenge the agencies’ child removal decisions in court, usually by filing a claim in federal court for a violation of civil rights under certain laws; however, it takes time and chances are slim in winning. What happens to the child during this time is heartbreaking.

On a positive note, when Judge Shelia and Casey get together, it is intense and humorous, as Casey is street smart and knows her way around the juvenile court and social services; whereas Shelia can be intimidating with years of experience as an attorney and a Judge; however, she is brought down a few notches when her prestigious position is of not help with this less than desirable unfair legal system.

Love these two together and hope we meet up with them again in future books! (yes you will)

First, loved the front cover, which initially attracted me to request from NetGalley. Second, my favorite genre. Next, Sylvie Fox (Aime Austin) delivers a first class page-turner, combined with her professional expertise in this area as former trial lawyer in Cleveland – making for a powerful delivery.

Well drawn and likable characters, skillful plot planning with numerous obstacles, twists and turns, making for a heartfelt human interest story and one which will stay with you long after the book ends.

QUALIFIED IMMUNITY reminds me of Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain (another favorite author, who writes about a social worker who goes outside the law to protect her client from sterilization in the South in the sixties) and my other favorite author, Terry McMillan with her style, sass and humor. In addition fans of Amy Hatvany and Lisa Scottoline will enjoy. So guys, here you have it, a mix of both. Buy, Read, and Love. You will be hooked and anxiously waiting the next in the series.

I find this subject intriguing. “Qualified immunity balances two important interests—the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.”

We continue to read stories of cases of random people making a call to social services with an ax to with another parent, and the county removes a child without even investigating the home, or the parents; to later learn it was all bogus and in the interim, lives are damaged.

Cannot wait to read the next in this exciting new series!

A special thank you to Penner Media and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Author

Aime Austin is the author of the Casey Cort Crime Fiction Series. Casey is almost always in trouble.

Aime’s full-time job? Rescuing her. Good thing Aime’s got experience. She practiced family and criminal law in Cleveland, Ohio for several years—so she has the skills for the job.

When Aime isn’t rescuing Casey from herself, she’s raising her son or traveling between Budapest and Los Angeles. Website

A Time to Thrill Podcast

Want to hear Aime chatting about books and writing?

Check out her podcast appearances:

Enjoy a conversation with Aime Austin, the author of the Casey Cort series of legal thrillers. In these conversations, she interviews smart women creators. They talk about creating while being mothers, sisters, daughters, married, divorced, dating, and mapping out our own destinies in the meantime.






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