NONFICTION : MAXIMUM MORPHONIOS: The Life and Times of America's Toughest Judge by Ellen Morphonios with Mike Wilson (William Morrow & Co.: $19.95; 275 pp.).

Morphonios is a Miami trial judge who has made her considerable reputation by sentencing convicted criminals to astonishing terms--1,197 years to one felon for three counts of armed robbery. That sort of judicial consideration got Morphonios her own segment on "60 Minutes" and a contract for this book. Written in the spicy style of Argosy, True or the Police Gazette, circa 1959 ("The job as radio wedding expert was not the last one I would get because of my blonde hair and big boobs"), it is not without a certain questionable charm, if only to make the reader wonder who will pick up the movie rights, and who will play the lead. It's the perfect movie property: Morphonios the aggressive, sexy prosecutor becomes Morphonios the strict, sexy judge, busily conducting more than one kind of affair in her office. Her strict sentences haven't acted as a deterrent--Miami's crime rate continues to soar--and overcrowded jails mean that even her tough sentences get watered down: A man she sentenced to a 99-year-term was back on the street far in advance of his dotage. But hey. That's entertainment.

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