I was just sitting in the car.
In the eighth installment of New York Times best-selling author Sheldon Siegel's iconic San Francisco series, Mike Daley and ex-wife Rosie Fernandez face new challenges and stare down old demons as they return to work at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office where they had started their careers and their relationship 20 years earlier. Mike and Rosie are now the co-heads of the Felony Division, where they spend more time running the office and supervising younger attorneys than trying cases. That changes quickly when Mike is visited by Melinda Nguyen, whose son, Thomas, a high school senior, is about to go on trial for murder. Thomas has been arrested under California's archaic felony murder rule, which says you can be can be convicted of first degree murder if you're present when someone is killed during the course of a felony, even if you don't pull the trigger. The charge against Thomas shows the limits of this legal doctrine. He was sitting outside in the car when a friend entered a liquor store in San Francisco's teeming Tenderloin District and allegedly flashed a gun. The shopkeeper pulled out an AR-15 and calmly filled the alleged robber's chest with bullets. Thomas is charged with murder even though he never entered the store.
Thomas fires his original lawyer on the eve of trial after she recommends a plea bargain. With nowhere else to turn, his mother petitions for help from the Public Defender's Office, and Mike agrees to handle the trial scheduled to start four days later. As the evidence mounts against Thomas, it tests Mike and Rosie's legal skills and relationship. Their stress is compounded by the fact that Thomas and his mother may have a connection to Mike's older brother, Tommy, who died in Vietnam.