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Criminal That I Am

A Memoir

About The Book

“A gripping read, as fascinating as it is shocking” (New York Journal of Books) by a young lawyer who becomes romantically entangled with convicted drug felon Cameron Douglas—a page-turning journey through professional self-destruction and tabloid scandal to redemption.

Criminal That I Am is a defense attorney’s account of the criminal justice system as seen through the prism of a particular case: her own. Jennifer Ridha was enlisted to serve as counsel to Cameron Douglas, the troubled but earnest son of film actor Michael Douglas, in a federal drug trafficking case. As media scrutiny and the pressures of Cameron’s case mount and as Jennifer becomes increasingly transfixed by her charismatic but troubled client, he asks her to do the unthinkable: commit a crime. In a decision inexplicable even to herself, guided only by her indignation and infatuation, she agrees. When her transgression is discovered, her criminal case begins, and her life as she knows it is over.

Criminal That I Am, “an unflinching account...a juicy narrative that serves as a vehicle for reflecting on criminal behavior and the human inclination to transgress.” (Publishers Weekly), details Jennifer’s redemptive journey, beginning with her decision to commit a crime on behalf of a man she loved to the calamitous yet ultimately transformative consequences that came after. Recounted with brutal introspection and self-deprecating humor, this strange and twisted love story contemplates what we make of crime and punishment...and what it makes of us.

About The Author

Photograph by Mike Ricca

A graduate of Columbia Law School, Jennifer Ridha has at various times in her life been a lawyer, a law professor, and a criminal defendant in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in legal anthropology, urban studies, and criminal justice. Criminal That I Am is her first book. Visit her website at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (May 13, 2017)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476785738

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Raves and Reviews

“Stinging and insightful...Acknowledging the balance between her heart and her head, Ridha amply demonstrates what can happen when the balance is upset.”

– Kirkus

“An unflinching account...Positioned as both insider and outsider, lawyer and criminal, Ridha creates a juicy narrative that serves as a vehicle for reflecting on criminal behavior and the human inclination to transgress.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Ridha’s remorse and guilty feelings are palpable...A cautionary (albeit sometimes lighthearted) tale.”

– Booklist

“Jennifer Ridha’s story rivets, jars, compels, and challenges. Her search for justice leads her to a merciful crime of the most human variety within a morally bankrupt criminal system. Although her journey is a tough one, Criminal That I Am contains many moments enlivened by Ridha’s wry wit and powerful sense of irony. Her spirit, fortitude, and candor will stay with you long after the last page is turned.”

– Margaux Fragoso, author of Tiger, Tiger

“In her unique and humorous voice, Jennifer Ridha hasgiven us an utterly fascinating view into the events that so effortlesslyunraveled her life and turned her into the most unlikely of criminal co-conspirators.Criminal That I Am is unexpected in all of the best ways, and althoughhers is a compelling cautionary tale, I was left hoping that Ridha wouldcommit another crime, just so I could read about it again. I loved this book.”

– Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy

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