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Storming the Court: How a Band of Yale Law Students Sued the President--and Won Hardcover – September 27, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1992 a team of Yale law students and other human rights activists sought to enjoin the government from detaining Haitian refugees indefinitely at Guantánamo Bay, without charges or access to counsel. Lawyer Goldstein tells their story with authority: he was a classmate of many of the student activists, although not a participant in the case. Two of the primary characters are Harold Koh, the dedicated, even driven, Yale professor who led the legal fight, and the courageous, pseudonymous "Yvonne Pascal," who emerged as a spokeswoman for the Haitian refugees. Goldstein's sympathies are wholeheartedly with the Haitians and those working on their behalf. A greater effort to articulate the government's argument would have improved the book and made the case's mixed outcome more understandable. After protracted litigation in federal court and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Haitians were discharged from Gitmo, but the policy questions involving the reach of the government's power were resolved in the government's favor. This is a timely (given the issue of detaining terror suspects today) and passionate account, but would have benefited from less hero worship of the activists and less demonizing of the government.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Goldstein has written a compelling story with contemporary significance that thus far has failed to capture the public attention. In 1992, a group of Yale law students began a heroic and substantial effort to free 300 Haitian refugees held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. The students plodded through this arduous process alone, often risking their goal of high-end employment, and found a way to take on the president and the U.S. government. And they won. This story has a ring of similarity with the Northwestern University journalism students who helped to free some death-row convicts and spark a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois. But a major difference is the lack of public awareness of the law----student efforts, which may reflect a greater discomfort with the issues involved. These 300 detainees were all black Haitians, men, women, and children--all HIV-positive. The Haitians have since all been granted political asylum in the U.S. This story provides an interesting backdrop to discussions about the application of U.S. law to persons held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743230019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743230018
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A great book. I am a law student and after three weeks of studying and taking finals the last thing I usually want to do is pick up a book, especially one having to do with law. But as soon as I picked this book up I was hooked and wound up finishing it the weekend after finals. Compelling and readable for those well-versed OR mystified by the law alike.

I would HIGHLY recommend this to all law students out there. When immersed in legal education it is easy to lose focus as to why and how you got there in the first place. The book and story is inspiring. In reading about students, professors, and hghly regarded attorneys helping those that sought their help and offering to those who simply NEEDED it, the story help me recapture the desires I held when I started law school.

Great work Mr. Goldstein and I look forward to reading your future work.
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Format: Hardcover
Damn you, Brandt Goldstein! I had a ton of work to do to get ready for a recent court appearance, but couldn't tear myself away from your book. And I already knew how it came out. As a lawyer, I was impressed by how you were able to take complicated legal concepts and make them not only easily understandable, but compelling reading. While it's obvious you had a good story to work with, you made it come alive in a way that makes me think you'd be great in front of a jury -- you're a real storyteller. While the events happened in the '90s, the book is as fresh as today's headlines about detainees at Guantanamo. Thanks for a great read.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a 3L about to graduate from law school and this book makes me want to shake off law firm salaries for the sake of making a change in this world. In less grandious terms, it makes me proud to be a future lawyer.

I saw Brandt Goldstein speak just before reading the book and he mentioned that he wrote the book to read like a legal thriller. I was not disappointed in this respect. He parallels the plight of the Haitians with the efforts of the law students. Politics, Legal Procedure, Trial strategy, and diplomacy are all addressed in an entertaining narrative. The cover gives away the ending but the value of this book lies in the way the author pulls the reader into full identification with amatuer lawyers. Although it is a must read for all lawyers, anyone would find enjoyment from this short read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When my law school registration packet came in the mail and I saw that in addition to the $1,000 worth of required books I needed for my classes there was an additional novel that I was required to read before orientation, I was a little unnerved. My initial plan was to hold off reading until a few nights before my orientation so the contents of Storming the Court was fresh in my mind and I could engage in discussion questions with confidence. When the book came in the mail, I figured I would do a quick skim of the first few pages just to see what the story was about and then I would put it on the bookshelf until August. Well, the "quick skim" turned into an all-nighter filled with a few cups of coffee and a lot of quick page turning. The book reads like a David Baldacci thriller. There is so much action, drama and real life human emotion in this book that it was impossible to put down. I refuse to put plot details in my book reviews but the greatest part of this book is how relatable the characters were to myself. They reinforced why I wanted to go to law school in the first place- to help people. This was a fantastic book and I really hope that you read it whether it's required by your school or not, whether you're a law student or not, or whether or not you think you would or wouldn't like a legal thriller. CHECK IT OUT!
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Format: Paperback
Interesting subject matter: the Haitian refugees case and the perennial problem of the USA Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Sometimes the story just stops moving forward. An unwieldy cast: at least there's a Who's Who in the back of the book. One-sided: unconditional acceptance of boat people by the reader is an assumption. He's cheering for the student lawyers. More balanced and disciplined debate and scholarship would have been an improvement. This book has a Movie of the Week quality that just scratches the surface of history and politics.
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Format: Paperback
This book was great! It did an awesome job of taking legal terminology and making it simple enough for non-lawyers to understand. The main character of the Haitian refugee camp came to life and I wanted to rescue her from the Guantanamo nightmare myself. This book inspired me to continue to fight against injustices and to keep fighting despite the seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. I would recommend it to everyone! Great information on the Haitian coup as well.
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Format: Hardcover
Storming the Court is an exciting page-turner, a legal thriller that just happens to be fact, not fiction. If you want to find out how the US government first got into the habit of using Guantanamo as a prison where they could lock people up and just throw away the key, read this book. It tells the story of how a bunch of law students sued the US president to free some poor Haitian "boat people," snatched by the Coast Guard and left to rot on Guantanamo. And it tells this story very well.
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