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.
The book's five parts cover subjects taught in most judicial politics courses. Because each chapter stands alone, instructors have the flexibility of assigning less than the whole book or chapters in a different order. Topics examined range from information used by voters electing judges to the credibility of victims of sexualized violence.
Accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students, Contemplating Courts offers fascinating views into both the law and courts field and the research process itself. Epstein provides in the first chapter an overview of the key elements of judicial process research and defines key terms. Technical notes and methodology appendices offer students additional guidance.
Choices is a thought-provoking, yet nontechnical work that is an ideal supplement for judicial process and public law courses. In addition to offering a unique and sustained theoretical account, the authors tell a fascinating story of how the Court works. Data culled from the Court's public records and from the private papers of Justices Brennan, Douglas, Marshall, and Powell provide empirical evidence to support the central argument, while numerous examples from the justices' papers animate the work.