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The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice Kindle Edition

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Length: 288 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

The authors of The New Color Line return with another libertarian polemic, this time taking aim at a justice system that has lost sight of its most important goals. Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton warn of a "police state that is creeping up on us from many directions." There's the war on drugs, which makes it possible for federal agents to investigate people simply for carrying large amounts of cash. There's the crusade against white-collar crime, which has turned the plea bargain into an enemy of the truth. And there's outright misconduct, abetted by prosecutors more interested in compiling long lists of indictments than ensuring the fair treatment of all suspects. The Tyranny of Good Intentions is replete with examples of how government treads on freedom through ill-willed prosecution and faceless bureaucracy. The book's overpowering sense of disaffection sometimes leads to alarmist prose: "We the People have vanished. Our place has been taken by wise men and anointed elites." The authors are swift to suggest that America, barring "an intellectual rebirth," may yet go the way of "German Nazis and Soviet communists."

Yet The Tyranny of Good Intentions is nothing if not well intended; it is full of passion and always on the attack, whether the writers are taking on racial quotas, wetland regulations, or any number of policies they find objectionable. In a jacket blurb, libertarian icon Milton Friedman calls it "a devastating indictment of our current system of justice." Roberts and Stratton, although right-leaning in many of their political sympathies, will probably find plenty of fans on ACLU-left--and anybody who cringes at the thought of unbridled state power. If the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, consider this book an atlas. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

According to Roberts and Stratton (both fellows at the Institute for Political Economy), our cherished individual rights are going to hell in a handbasket, delivered by politically ambitious prosecutors, misguided or malevolent bureaucrats, law enforcement agents run amok and pandering politicians. This book has odd heroes/victims: Charles Keating of the Savings and Loan scandal, Exxon Corporation (owner of the Exxon Valdez), hotelier Leona Helmsley, Michael Milken and even agri-business giant Archer Daniels Midland. The arch-villain is odder still, Jeremy Bentham, the 19th-century philosopher who popularized the theory of utilitarianism, which can be simply described as a belief in formulating public policies that result in "the greatest good for the greatest number." Bentham's villainy, the authors say, is rooted in utilitarian philosophy's role in undermining the Rights of Englishmen traceable to the Magna Carta and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and now embodied in the Bill of Rights. Perhaps oddest of all is the characterization of J. Edgar Hoover as a paragon of morality and law enforcement restraint, qualities the authors feel are utterly lacking in today's American leadership. Roberts and Stratton will strike a nerve with this book; the government abuses they colorfully rail at--the unrestrained powers of police and prosecutors, unfair forfeiture laws, unreasonable bureaucratic regulations and police profiling, to name a few--mark a frightening departure from what most Americans consider the fair exercise of government authority. Unfortunately, in the end, the book comes off as primarily an incendiary polemic. Lost in the rhetoric of the authors' call to arms is a useful analysis of how to balance competing individual and societal interests without sacrificing fundamental rights. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Dr. John S. Waldrip on August 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Though I am not an attorney I have several friends who are attorneys. One of them gave me a copy of this wonderful book by Roberts and Stratton three weeks ago. After looking at the book for two weeks I picked it up and read it it two sessions. There are enough facts in the book that I am already familiar with to know in my gut that these two fellows are right on target. Their research and conclusions are troubling, but true. It takes a real piece of work to get men as diverse as Alan Dershowitz, Gordon Liddy and Milton Friedman to recommend a work like this. But this book is a piece of work, the most important book I've read this year and the Christmas present I plan on giving my thinking friends.
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90 of 96 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on December 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
~The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice~ is a solid critique of our nation's criminal justice system, which has strayed egregiously from its fundamentals and is continuously assailing the Rights of the Englishmen and the constitutional protections of our citizenry. "Good intentions have transformed law," note the authors, "from a shield for the innocent to a weapon used by the police. Having lost the law, we have acquired tyranny." With increasing lawlessness, the nefarious tactics of law enforcement are increasingly becoming indistinguishable from those of the "criminal underworld." The Anglo-American common law tradition is losing ground to zealous prosecutors, insensitive regulators, and overly ambitious law enforcement. They are increasingly blinded by ambition and lacking any ethical sense of fairness and integrity as many seldom afford dignity or concern for those they investigate.

The onset of the book highlights the cherished Rights of the Englishmen and offers a little legal history and some jurisprudence lessons. Innocent people are increasingly caught up in a bureaucratic web where vindictive prosecutors and uncaring bureaucrats destroy lives and livelihoods. As the authors make clear, the reason for abuses which are prevalent perhaps owes to a loss of the sense of justice. "The function of justice is to serve truth." When the quest for truth is lost, the focus on justice is dispensed with, and ambition of bureaucrats and prosecutors runs roughshod over the rights of the accused.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By The Independent Review on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Excerpts from a book review by Nikos A. Leverenz in The Independent Review (Fall 2001)
The Tyranny of Good Intentions should make those who participate in our political and legal systems uncomfortable, if not self-loathing. Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M Stratton's principal argument is that what passes for "law" in the current civil climate is far removed from the "long struggle to establish the people's sovereignity" that dates back to pre-Norman England. Simply put, the law has been transformed from a shield that protects the people from the encroachments of government power into a sword that enables the government to lord over people. Those who are weary of the ongoing government assault on Microsoft and the tobacco industry or of the continued evisceration of civil liberties under the tutelary banner of the drug war should immediately recognize this transformation.
The Tyranny of Good Intentions highlights two broad areas in which the content and enforcement of the law now serve as a sword against what is loosely termed "the Rights of Englishmen": namely, "prohibitions against crimes without intent, retroactive law, and self-incrimination." First, the authors consider how government prosecutors, manifesting a win-at-all-costs mentality, sacrifice the quest for truth in order to advance their careers. Second, the adbication of legislative power to administrative agencies has eroded the Anglo-Saxon legal maxim "a delegated power cannot itself be delegated."
Those who are actively engaged in policymaking and law enforcement would do well to read The Tyranny of Good Intentions, even if it gives them only momentary pause in their assorted "public interest" crusades to leave hoof prints on the people's constitutional liberties.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael F. Zinn on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating analysis of the origins of the police state arising out of America's bureaucracy. As the authors present it, the Constitution has become an relic for the history books. Ordinary people are routinely crushed by viciousness on the part of US Government employees who act with a sense of mission, and without a sense of proportion. This is not a first person account, but a well researched journalistic attempt to tie together disturbing trends that most people see as isolated events. As one who has experienced a Mad Dog Prosecutor (and written a first-person account of it), I can state that this book is far from exaggerated in its description of the abuse of ordinary and honest people by our government. The constitutional protections we were taught all about in school have become a fiction.
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