23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Called for jury duty? Show up with this book!,
This review is from: The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice (Hardcover)
As other reviewers have noted, this book is not an in-depth analysis of legal issues. Rather it's an attempt to provide an informal, backstage glimpse into life on the Supreme Court from the perspective of the first woman justice.
Some of her points will loom large with women who, like me, were "firsts" on a much smaller scale. For instance, she notes the significance of changing the nameplates from "Mr. Justice..." to simply "Justice..."
As we might expect from a down-home woman who was brought up riding horses in Arizona, O'Connor remains modest and matter-of-fact. She recognizes her role and the respect she deserves. She describes the difficulties of women in the law, frankly and without self-pity, and acknowledges the preference for sharing experiences with other women in law.
And her behind-the-scenes glimpses reflect her perspective as a woman who cares about people as well as principles. She shares wonderful anecdotes about Thurgood Marshall. And she says absolutely nothing about Clarence Thomas, even when discussing the process of confirmation to the Court.
In my favorite chapter, Justice O'Connor raises strong, provocative questions about jury duty. Established 900 years ago, she says, the concept remains sound but the implementation is due for an overhaul. Why shouldn't jurors take notes? Why should they be subjected to long waits in uncomfortable rooms? And jurors surely deserve better compensation, she says.
O'Connor compares US juries with those of other English-speaking countries -- England, Canada, and Australia. She notes that other countries do not send civil cases to juries as frequently, so jurors do not have to sit through days and weeks of complex testimony that leaves them so bewildered they may as well flip a coin. (Actually a coin flip would be fairer than trying to sort through half-remembered facts!) And lawyers spend so much time psyching out jurors they want to challenge that jury selection can take weeks. In Europe, says O'Connor, juries are selected in minutes!
If anything, Justice O'Connor doesn't go far enough. Paying for jury service won't help a self-employed or sales person who could lose an account worth thousands of dollars. And jurors often experience serious emotional symptoms following a difficult case.
However, it is refreshing to hear such honesty from a distinguished member of the legal profession. O'Connor even recalls the New Yorker cartoon where a jury foreman tells the judge, "We find the defendant guilty and sentence him to jury duty." So true! I'm told that some juries begin to identify with criminal defendants -- they're treated in more or less the same way!
If you know someone who's called for jury duty, buy him or her this book -- good reading for the interminable, senseless waiting time.
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Initial post: Mar 1, 2012 3:34:00 PM PST
Andrew Patterson says:
The Kindle edition is more expensive that the paperback.. That's exploitative. I won't buy that even if I want it.
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