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The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice [Paperback]

Paul Craig Roberts , Lawrence M. Stratton
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 25, 2008 0307396061 978-0307396068 Reprint
In this updated and expanded edition of The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton renew their valiant campaign to reclaim that which is rightly ours–liberty protected by the rule of law. They show how crusading legislators and unfair prosecutors are remaking American law into a weapon wielded by the government and how the erosion of the legal principles we hold dear–such as habeas corpus and the prohibition against self-incrimination–is destroying the presumption of innocence. A new introduction and new chapters cover recent marquee cases and make this provocative book essential reading for anyone who cringes at the thought of unbridled state power and sees our civil liberties slowly slipping away in the name of the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, and the War on Terror.

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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307396061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307396068
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragically Truthful August 8, 2000
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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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Indictment of the Current Legal State of Affairs December 23, 2004
~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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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Government an Obstacle to Freedom, Not a Source October 17, 2001
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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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this and weep for what has been lost. August 7, 2000
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The War on Liberty
Paul Craig Roberts is a Reagan Era official who is deathly concerned about the appalling rate of convictions and prison time which has increased in recent times. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Carl Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I work for a civil rights law firm and although I don't totally agree with Mr. Roberts' take on his presentation of corporations (in terms of Ethics vs. Read more
Published 5 months ago by DTG
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent book for those who clearly understand the complete break-down and deterioration of jurisprudence in America. Roberts is the consummate legal philosopher. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Discerning Eye
5.0 out of 5 stars the real story
I was prosecuted and convicted in much the same way that is in this book. This is only the tip of the iceberg and is the truth about what passes for justice in America today
Published 9 months ago by John Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars US Govt power gone amock on all levels
Recently you have read about the IRS/Tea Party auditing scandals, the NSA spy network among others. We all think that impacts someone else or maybe the person deserved it or... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Charles West
5.0 out of 5 stars Things We Need to Know
Mr's. Robert's and Stratton's book, "The Tyranny of Good Intentions" should be on everyones "must read" list if one wishes to understand how government... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Boutwell
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun book
This book is what it claims. Read the cover and a basic description and thats all there is to it. Easy to read & not to preachy. Read more
Published 19 months ago by impendingaff
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking Expose'
If you believe that law enforcement is designed to serve & protect, this is a must read. Prosecutor misconduct is the rule rather than the exception. Read more
Published on August 8, 2011 by Thunderfoot Briggs
5.0 out of 5 stars Case in Point: Abramoff Investigation
To see in detail how the feds can railroad an innocent man, even the powerful, please read my book:

Lynched! Read more
Published on April 19, 2011 by Susan Bradford
5.0 out of 5 stars Tyranny of Good Intentions
The book was in good condition, as expected. And the delivery time was within my expectations.
Published on September 9, 2009 by A. Deming
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