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Out Of Order: Arrogance, Corruption, And Incompetence On The Bench Paperback – May 3, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0465053759 ISBN-10: 0465053750

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Product Details

  • Series: Arrogance, Corruption, and Incompetence on the Bench
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465053750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465053759
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,354,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Max Boot, who wrote the excellent "Rule of Law" editorial column in the Wall Street Journal for several years, has written what he admits to be a polemic. Polemic; need not be a derogatory word when the book is informative and entertaining. Out of Order is aimed at the evils of judges. Some of those evils--corruption and drug dealing--are obvious. Others--such as broad constitutional interpretations, desegregation of Virgina Military Institute, and application of the Miranda doctrine--are debatable, though Boot mostly sidesteps those debates.

Having foresworn objective analysis, Boot also admits to a lack of solutions to the problems he identifies. While he proposes a handful of reforms that do little to address what he criticizes, he rejects a wide variety of radical proposals with a few sentences each. Boot suggests more scrutiny of judges through lawyers' reports and public debate. Left unspoken is the fact that the most prominent public debate of judicial decision-making in the last 12 years involved the author of his introduction, Judge Robert Bork, and came to a result Boot disliked. And Boot's endorsement of rating judges by lawyers ignores that such ratings have as often resulted in unfair criticism of judges (including one Boot singles out as a good egg) for holding lawyers to strict standards as it has to expose incompetence that remains unaddressed.

So what's left is a long list of anecdotes, loosely organized by them, tied together only by their common desire to criticize. Thus, Judge Ito should not have let the Simpson trial be overrun by publicity, but a Chicago judge is hit for earthily barring attorneys from talking to the press.

In one chapter, judges have too much power and abuse it; in another, incompetents fill the judiciary because smart lawyers can have more influence by refusing appointments. The reader is to assume that the mere fact Boot has held these judges up to criticism should be enough.

For a more reasoned analysis of the judicial system, see Richard Posner's The Federal Courts (1996). Those wishing for the polemic can read either Robert Bork's The Tempting Of America (1991) or Ralph Nader's No Contest (1996), depending on your preconceived political bent. --Ted Frank --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"Judges have assumed unprecedented authority over our lives, usurping powers once delegated to elected lawmakers, based on no solid grounding in the text of either a statute or the Constitution itself," contends Wall Street Journal deputy features editor Boot. Though his somewhat right-leaning biases are occasionally visible beneath his research-based approach, Boot's strong writing and even-handed journalism make for a powerful case. (Former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's turgid introduction, full of references to "radical egalitarianism," is one example of the less-than-transparent politics that inform the book.) With humor and wit, Boot describes a society caught up in a lottery mentality, whereby juries routinely make outrageous punitive damage awards on the flimsiest of cases, and judges?often politically savvy lawyers rather than judicious legal experts?fail to throw out frivolous cases and awards. Only a revision of the system by which we select and promote judges, Boot contends, is likely to change the situation. Boot's impressive grasp of the law and his wry, crystal-clear argumentation makes this book one that will be indispensable to anyone curious to know how we managed to turn our society into a gridlock of litigiousness.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Max Boot is one of America's leading military historians and foreign-policy analysts. The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is the author of two-widely acclaimed books: "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power" and "War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today." His latest book--"Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present"--will be coming out in January 2013. He is also a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. He has advised military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his books have been assigned reading by the military services. He has been called "a master historian" by the New York Times and a "a penetrating writer and thinker" by The Wall Street Journal. For more information, see www.maxboot.net.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Max Boot has shown himself to be a thoughtful writer and deputy features editor for the Wall Street Journal. I have enjoyed his work in that paper for several years. His book is a thoughtful, entertaining and at times enraging look at the judiciary in this country. It falls prey to what I consider to be a congenital shortcoming which is the fact that the author is a journalist and not a lawyer or even a law school graduate. Hence, this is essentially someone who is intelligent and well informed but is still "on the outside looking in." Like all top-notch journalists, he is adept at "getting up to speed" and doing the research necessary to speak effectively on the subjects he writes about. I've had several dealings with Wall Street and NY Times journalists and editors and I have to say that Max Boot is perhaps the least insufferable, smug and self-impressed of the bunch. (Take this for the compliment it is. If you knew these folks you'd realize just how self-impressed they are when it comes to hawking their own books and to "playing up" their purported expertise on various substantive subjects like the American legal system.) Max Boot is an intelligent, workmanlike writer who has done his homework on an important subject.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tung Yin VINE VOICE on August 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Whether you are liberal or conservative, Max Boot's "Out of Order" is likely to get you mad. Mad because the judicial system is painted as so-out-of-control, or mad because you think Boot is a conservative hack (who writes for the Wall Street Journal's editorial pages).
What Boot has done, and done effectively, is gather horrible anecdote after horrible anecdote, organize them in general categories like corrupt judges, incompetent judges, and so on. The picture that he paints is pretty grim: if a judge isn't on the take, he or she might be plain weak, stupid, arrogant, or deluded.
But how seriously are we to take Boot's thesis? While the individual cases that he discusses are (to varying degrees) disturbing, the central problem with this book lies in the fact that the reader is supposed to evaluate a judge based on one case, out of thousands or more that the judge might see in his or her career.
At the same time, Boot strangely ignores some obvious targets for those who would like to criticize the judiciary. For example, Judge Stephen Reinhardt (a federal appeals judge in California) is usually the posterchild for judicial activism: he is one of the judges most-often reversed by the Supreme Court. Yet, Judge Reinhardt rates only one mention, and it is actually praise from Boot. Now, I'm not suggesting necessarily that Boot would think that Reinhardt is worthy of criticism (though I think it fairly obvious, given their respective ideologies), but there is a history and pattern of judicial opinions from which one could draw definite conclusions.
As other reviewers have noted, this is a critical weakness of "Out of Order." It's a collection of anecdotes, almost a survey of judges across the country, but not very deep in its scope.
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By vic on July 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, very informative and factual. The book arrived early in excellent condition.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Those interested in the role of the judiciary in America will find three types of books available on the subject: "Anecdotal", such as Max Boots's series of essays on various court decisions; The second category is, "Detailed", such as Walkowski/Connolly's "From Trial Court to the United States Supreme Court" which covers a major case from the lowest to the highest level and shows how the system works; and third, there are those categorized as "Biolgraphical", such as Ed Lazarus' book "Closed Chambers" which gives us an insight into the workings of the court from the inside. Max Boot's book, is informative and, like a Wall Street op-ed piece, interesting for what it does. It stimulates our imagination and compels those interested in the subject to look deeper, hence the other categories. All in all, I read it and enjoyed it, but found myself wanting more detail than was available. Still, I recommend it, as well as a peek into the other areas as well for a more complete perspective of the problem.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Although Mr. Boot's objective is admirable, he fails to deliver a cogent and thoughtful critique of the American judicial system. Perhaps, if Mr. Boot had an educational and professional background in this area, his book would have provided more inciteful analysis rather than being packed full of bromides and anecdotes.
Sensationalizing the shortcomings of the judiciary does not further the debate or help us toward the ultimate solution. Obviously, this approach reflects Mr. Boot's journalistic background which generally entails glitz over substance.
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