American Legal Injustice
Forensic psychiatrist Emanuel Tanay has testified in thousands of court cases as an expert witness. Tanay provides a 'behind-the-scenes' view of our criminal justice system and clear examples of the rampant injustice that he has witnessed. He argues that the potential for injustice is built into our legal system in the form of incompetent lawyers, the imbalance of resources between the pricey defense lawyers hired by large corporations in civil trials and the inexperienced lawyers often hired by plaintiffs, and the political concerns of elected judges and prosecutors.
Injustice in Indian Country
Living at the intersection of multiple identities in the United States can be dangerous. This is especially true for Native women who live on the more than 56 million acres that comprise America’s Indian Country - the legal term for American Indian reservations and other land held in trust for Native people. Today, due to a complicated system of criminal jurisdiction, non-Native Americans can commit crimes against American Indians in much of Indian Country with virtual impunity. This has created what some call a modern day «hunting ground» in which Native women are specifically targeted by non-Native men for sexual violence. In this urgent and timely book, author Amy L. Casselman exposes the shameful truth of how the American government has systematically divested Native nations of the basic right to protect the people in their own communities. A problem over 200 years in the making, Casselman highlights race and gender in federal law to challenge the argument that violence against Native women in Indian country is simply collateral damage from a complex but necessary legal structure. Instead, she demonstrates that what’s happening in Indian country is part of a violent colonial legacy - one that has always relied on legal and sexual violence to disempower Native communities as a whole.
Americans are slowly waking up to the dire effects of racial profiling, police brutality, and mass incarceration, especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities of color. The criminal courts are the crucial gateway between police action on the street and the processing of primarily black and Latino defendants into jails and prisons. And yet the courts, often portrayed as sacred, impartial institutions, have remained shrouded in secrecy, with the majority of Americans kept in the dark about how they function internally. Crook County bursts open the courthouse doors and enters the hallways, courtrooms, judges' chambers, and attorneys' offices to reveal a world of punishment determined by race, not offense. Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve spent ten years working in and investigating the largest criminal courthouse in the country, Chicago–Cook County, and based on over 1,000 hours of observation, she takes readers inside our so-called halls of justice to witness the types of everyday racial abuses that fester within the courts, often in plain sight. We watch white courtroom professionals classify and deliberate on the fates of mostly black and Latino defendants while racial abuse and due process violations are encouraged and even seen as justified. Judges fall asleep on the bench. Prosecutors hang out like frat boys in the judges' chambers while the fates of defendants hang in the balance. Public defenders make choices about which defendants they will try to "save" and which they will sacrifice. Sheriff's officers cruelly mock and abuse defendants' family members. Crook County's powerful and at times devastating narratives reveal startling truths about a legal culture steeped in racial abuse. Defendants find themselves thrust into a pernicious legal world where courtroom actors live and breathe racism while simultaneously committing themselves to a colorblind ideal. Gonzalez Van Cleve urges all citizens to take a closer look at the way we do justice in America and to hold our arbiters of justice accountable to the highest standards of equality.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST, NPR, AND KIRKUS REVIEWS A scathing portrait of an urgent new American crisis Over the last two decades, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery: Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world’s wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail. In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where our two most troubling trends—growing wealth inequality and mass incarceration—come together, driven by a dramatic shift in American citizenship: Our basic rights are now determined by our wealth or poverty. The Divide is what allows massively destructive fraud by the hyperwealthy to go unpunished, while turning poverty itself into a crime—but it’s impossible to see until you look at these two alarming trends side by side. In The Divide, Matt Taibbi takes readers on a galvanizing journey through both sides of our new system of justice—the fun-house-mirror worlds of the untouchably wealthy and the criminalized poor. He uncovers the startling looting that preceded the financial collapse; a wild conspiracy of billionaire hedge fund managers to destroy a company through dirty tricks; and the story of a whistleblower who gets in the way of the largest banks in America, only to find herself in the crosshairs. On the other side of the Divide, Taibbi takes us to the front lines of the immigrant dragnet; into the newly punitive welfare system which treats its beneficiaries as thieves; and deep inside the stop-and-frisk world, where standing in front of your own home has become an arrestable offense. As he narrates these incredible stories, he draws out and analyzes their common source: a perverse new standard of justice, based on a radical, disturbing new vision of civil rights. Through astonishing—and enraging—accounts of the high-stakes capers of the wealthy and nightmare stories of regular people caught in the Divide’s punishing logic, Taibbi lays bare one of the greatest challenges we face in contemporary American life: surviving a system that devours the lives of the poor, turns a blind eye to the destructive crimes of the wealthy, and implicates us all. Praise for The Divide “Ambitious . . . deeply reported, highly compelling . . . impossible to put down.”—The New York Times Book Review “These are the stories that will keep you up at night. . . . The Divide is not just a report from the new America; it is advocacy journalism at its finest.”—Los Angeles Times “Taibbi is a relentless investigative reporter. He takes readers inside not only investment banks, hedge funds and the blood sport of short-sellers, but into the lives of the needy, minorities, street drifters and illegal immigrants. . . . The Divide is an important book. Its documentation is powerful and shocking.”—The Washington Post “Captivating . . . The Divide enshrines its author’s position as one of the most important voices in contemporary American journalism.”—The Independent (UK) “Taibbi [is] perhaps the greatest reporter on Wall Street’s crimes in the modern era.”—Salon From the Hardcover edition.
Law Gender and Injustice
In this widely acclaimed landmark study, Joan Hoff illustrates how women remain second- class citizens under the current legal system and questions whether the continued pursuit of equality based on a one-size-fits-all vision of traditional individual rights is really what will most improve conditions for women in America as they prepare for the twenty-first century. Concluding that equality based on liberal male ideology is no longer an adequate framework for improving women's legal status, Hoff's highly original and incisive volume calls for a demystification of legal doctrine and a reinterpretation of legal texts (including the Constitution) to create a feminist jurisprudence.
Who Owns Culture
It is not uncommon for white suburban youths to perform rap music, for New York fashion designers to ransack the world's closets for inspiration, or for Euro-American authors to adopt the voice of a geisha or shaman. But who really owns these art forms? Is it the community in which they were originally generated, or the culture that has absorbed them? While claims of authenticity or quality may prompt some consumers to seek cultural products at their source, the communities of origin are generally unable to exclude copyists through legal action. Like other works of unincorporated group authorship, cultural products lack protection under our system of intellectual property law. But is this legal vacuum an injustice, the lifeblood of American culture, a historical oversight, a result of administrative incapacity, or all of the above? Who Owns Culture? offers the first comprehensive analysis of cultural authorship and appropriation within American law. From indigenous art to Linux, Susan Scafidi takes the reader on a tour of the no-man's-land between law and culture, pausing to ask: What prompts us to offer legal protection to works of literature, but not folklore? What does it mean for a creation to belong to a community, especially a diffuse or fractured one? And is our national culture the product of Yankee ingenuity or cultural kleptomania? Providing new insights to communal authorship, cultural appropriation, intellectual property law, and the formation of American culture, this innovative and accessible guide greatly enriches future legal understanding of cultural production.
"A groundbreaking book . . . revealing the systemic, everyday problems in our courts that must be addressed if justice is truly to be served."—Doris Kearns Goodwin Attorney and journalist Amy Bach spent eight years investigating the widespread courtroom failures that each day upend lives across America. What she found was an assembly-line approach to justice: a system that rewards mediocre advocacy, bypasses due process, and shortchanges both defendants and victims to keep the court calendar moving. Here is the public defender who pleads most of his clients guilty with scant knowledge about their circumstances; the judge who sets outrageous bail for negligible crimes; the prosecutor who habitually declines to pursue significant cases; the court that works together to achieve a wrongful conviction. Going beyond the usual explanations of bad apples and meager funding, Ordinary Injustice reveals a clubby legal culture of compromise, and shows the tragic consequences that result when communities mistake the rules that lawyers play by for the rule of law. It is time, Bach argues, to institute a new method of checks and balances that will make injustice visible—the first and necessary step to reform.
"A law professor sounds an explosive alarm on the hidden unfairness of our legal system." —Kirkus Reviews, starred A child is gunned down by a police officer; an investigator ignores critical clues in a case; an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit; a jury acquits a killer. The evidence is all around us: Our system of justice is fundamentally broken. But it’s not for the reasons we tend to think, as law professor Adam Benforado argues in this eye-opening, galvanizing book. Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we would still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment. This is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us. This is difficult to accept. Our nation is founded on the idea that the law is impartial, that legal cases are won or lost on the basis of evidence, careful reasoning and nuanced argument. But they may, in fact, turn on the camera angle of a defendant’s taped confession, the number of photos in a mug shot book, or a simple word choice during a cross-examination. In Unfair, Benforado shines a light on this troubling new field of research, showing, for example, that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning. Over the last two decades, psychologists and neuroscientists have uncovered many cognitive forces that operate beyond our conscious awareness. Until we address these hidden biases head-on, Benforado argues, the social inequality we see now will only widen, as powerful players and institutions find ways to exploit the weaknesses of our legal system. Weaving together historical examples, scientific studies, and compelling court cases—from the border collie put on trial in Kentucky to the five teenagers who falsely confessed in the Central Park Jogger case—Benforado shows how our judicial processes fail to uphold our values and protect society’s weakest members. With clarity and passion, he lays out the scope of the legal system’s dysfunction and proposes a wealth of practical reforms that could prevent injustice and help us achieve true fairness and equality before the law. From the Hardcover edition.
Through interviews with ten people who suffered from or participated in legal system injustices, Broken Scales: Reflections on Injustice explores and asks the reader to think about how one can determine what is, in fact, an injustice.
American Law School Review
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