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The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System Hardcover – December 31, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1107004757 ISBN-10: 1107004756

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107004756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107004757
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,233,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Virtually all American judges are former lawyers, a shared background that results in the lawyer-judge bias. This book argues that these lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and that this bias has far-reaching and deleterious effects on American law.

About the Author

Benjamin Barton is the Director of Clinical Programs and a Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law. His articles have been published in the Michigan Law Review, California Law Review, and Empirical Law Review and discussed in Time Magazine, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal law blog, among others. Barton has been named the Outstanding Faculty Advisor for UT Pro Bono twice and has received the Marilyn V. Yarbrough Faculty Award for Writing Excellence. He is the winner of the 2010 LSAC Philip D. Shelton Award for outstanding research in legal education.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. B. MEAD on May 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I found this 312-page book to be well worth the read, but clearly not well worth the price of $90, at least for this layman, a retired professor in constitutional law. Ronald Clark provides an excellent review of this book. But while he observes that its style is accessible to the non-lawyer, he fails to mention that its price is hardly affordable to the non-lawyer. The author, Benjamin Barton, has focused on a neglected area of American legal practice, namely, the lawyer-judge bias. Perhaps his next book should take up an equally neglected subject, namely, the lawyer-publisher bias. Now I must return my copy of the book to the library.

Oh, yes, at the risk of keeping other readers waiting, and without wishing to detract from Mr. Barton's very able treatment of one weakness in the American judicial system, I must suggest that reform of the American system of justice can be effective only if this specific problem (as well as other specific weaknesses) are addressed in the broader context of systemic reform. Lawyer Theodore Kubicek has accomplished this kind of critique in his
brilliant (and far more affordable) ADVERSARIAL JUSTICE: AMERICA'S COURT SYSTEM ON TRIAL (New York: Algora Publishing, 2006).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on May 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be much more interesting and substantial than I had anticipated. I think it would be particularly helpful for non-lawyers to read to gain a better understanding of why lawyers are often accused of having too much power within the American system. The book's central thesis is "that lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and actions and that this has powerful and far reaching effects on our country" [p. 2]. To substantiate his thesis, the author, a law professor himself, points to a number of factors, including that judges rely upon counsel to do much of their work; that judges themselves were usually lawyers; common training; the influential role of professional associations such as the American Bar Association; and a "us v. them" mentality that joins lawyers and judges together in an alliance against the rest of us. As a lawyer myself, I think the question is how far does the author push this thesis?; too far and the book could become a diatribe instead of a serious discussion.

Several chapters discuss cases in the areas of constitutional criminal procedure and civil constitutional law as examples of this process. For example, the famous "Miranda" decision put emphasis more on having a lawyer present than on protecting the right to silence, while doing nothing to ensure the quality of legal representation criminal defendants received. While this argument surely overstates the case, it does raise the important issue of whether clients (paying or otherwise) have adequate means to guarantee the quality of the legal services they receive.

Two chapters are devoted to lawyer regulation, and I think these are particularly valuable discussions for the non-lawyer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Schleifer on December 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you care at all about the direction our country has taken over the last 100 years, you will get and read this book.
If you cannot understand why so many legal decisions seem to lack basic common sense, you will get and read this book.
If you wonder why there are so many lawyer jokes, and why people like to quote from 2 Henry VI, get and read this book, because the privileged place of lawyers in America is laughing matter, and Barton shows whence it arises and how unfair and damaging it is.
So get and read this book, the sooner the better, and then start advocating for change.
One thing I'd like Barton to address: if lawyers are officers of the court, as courts have so often said, then how can lawyers be legislators without violating the separation of powers?
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