- Series: Critical America
- Paperback: 371 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (October 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814751164
- ISBN-13: 978-0814751169
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom (Critical America)
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“Provocative and persuasive. In this well-written and meticulously documented book, Cynthia Lee demonstrates how the law has defined ‘reasonableness’ in criminal law to favor men against women, straight men against gay men, and whites against blacks. Lee’s synthesis of many seemingly different examples, with thoughtful responses to the various objections that might be raised, is legal scholarship that can make a difference in our social practices. This is a serious and compelling book that should lead to reform.”
-Frank H. Wu,author of Yellow: Race in America beyond Black and White
“Smart, insightful, and important, this book proves that the criminal justice system does not treat all persons equally—that the reasonable man is a man, and that men get away with murder, while women pay with their lives. Must reading for students of the law, gender studies, and all those who care about equal justice.”
-Susan Estrich,Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Southern California, and author of Real Rape, Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System
“Lee's book is a compelling and well-informed analysis of the issues raised when courts confront questions of reasonableness in high-profile, headline-grabbing cases.”
“For Cynthia Lee, legal analysis is not a scholastic exercise in logical deduction or philosophical puzzle-solving, but a vivid form of social criticism. In relentlessly exposing the law's foundation in partisan social norms, she challenges the prevailing modes of legal scholarship as well as the prevailing understandings of voluntary manslaughter and self-defense doctrine. Murder and the Reasonable Man establishes Lee as one of the pre-eminent commentators on American criminal law.”
-Dan Kahan,Professor of Law, Yale Law School
“Lee challenges readers to question the concept of 'reasonableness' and how it has been applied. . . Scholars, students, professionals and the educated public will appreciate the careful, well-documented argument and pertinent examples.”
About the Author
Cynthia Lee is Professor of Law at George Washington University School of Law, where she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Professional Responsibility.
Top customer reviews
If anything, this book makes a good case for the restriction of non-defined or "novel" affirmative defenses like "gay rage" and the Twinkie defense.
I was also bothered by Lee's interpretation of the Goetz case. She seems to believe that Goetz's defense, while not specifically bringing in the race question, was none the less guilt of racial stereotyping by describing the assailants as "vultures" and "animals". And although Lee castigates Goetz's defense for this (arguably accurate) depiction, she continually refers to the assailants as the "boys"; an equally loaded word itself designed to invoke sympathy in the reader. She fails to mention that these "boys" were all 18 and 19 years old. Two of the "boys" continued on their pattern of predation a short time later. James Ramseur was convicted of raping, beating and robbing a pregnant 19 year old woman in the Bronx, while the other "boy", Barry Allen, was convicted of two felony counts of armed robbery shortly after he was released from the hospital.
The author builds an excellent case for revising the narrow social norms used by our legal system today when applying the reasonable man defense to less visible segments of our society: minorities, such as heterosexual women, gays and lesbians, and persons of color. She goes beyond pointing out what needs to be changed within our legal system by offering her own recommended solutions for leveling the playing field.
Highly recommended for non-legal types who have a passion for equal rights under the law.
The problem comes in Lee's understanding of use-of-force issues especially issues relating to reaction times (which can result in shots to the side or back), stress hormones and memory (which can result in fragmented memory), stress hormones and fine muscle control (which makes it hard to practically shoot to wound), and the ability of handgun fire to penetrate standard building materials (which makes warning shots dangerous). Lee's book should be read in combination with practical self-defense and use-of-force articles by respected writers like Masaad Ayoob and Phil Messina.