at Seattle University Law Library

January 2002

 

Legal blame: how jurors think and talk about accidents. Neal Feigenson. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. KF8972.F45 2000

From the cover: Legal Blame sheds new light on how jurors interpret justice in the wake of accidents. It also reveals much about the psychology of jury decision making in general. Using case materials, the author analyzes both the words lawyers use to help jurors assign blame and the works jurors themselves use as they make decisions. With minimal use of jargon, the author discusses the relevant social and cognitive literature and shows how jurors' everyday habits of thought and feeling inform their deliberations. Neal Feigenson's thesis is that jurors use legal facts and rules, in combination with common sense, to process what he calls "total justice." Contrary to stereotypes about jurors, both emotion and reason appear to be central in reaching a decision that feels right to the jury.

Neal Feigenson is Professor of Law at Quinnipiac College School of Law in Hamden, CT, as well as a research affiliate in the Yale University Department of Psychology.

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Courting justice: gay men and lesbians v. the Supreme Court. Joyce Murdoch & Deb Price. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books. KF4754.5.M87 2001

From the publisher: Since 1958, twenty-five men and two women have forced the Supreme Court to consider whether the Constitution's promises of equal protection apply to gay Americans. Here former Washington Post editor Joyce Murdoch and her partner, celebrated lesbian columnist Deb Price, reveal how the nation's highest court has reacted to these cases—from the surprising 1958 victory of a tiny homosexual magazine to the 2000 defeat of a gay Eagle Scout. A triumph of investigative reporting, Courting Justice draws on interviews with justices' friends, relatives, and former clerks to offer an inside look at individual rulings and the often surprising context of those decisions. Murdoch and Price's careful research and passionate advocacy give us an inspiring new perspective on the unfolding of the gay rights movement in America.

Joyce Murdoch is a former editor and reporter at the Washington Post. Deb Price is the first nationally syndicated columnist on gay and lesbian issues. She has served as an editor at the Washington Post and the Washington bureau of the Detroit News.

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East meets West: human rights and democracy in East Asia. Daniel A. Bell. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. JC599.E18B45 2000

From the publisher: Is liberal democracy a universal ideal? Proponents of "Asian values" argue that it is a distinctive product of the Western experience and that Western powers shouldn't try to push human rights and democracy onto Asian states. Liberal democrats in the West typically counter by questioning the motives of Asian critics, arguing that Asian leaders are merely trying to rationalize human-rights violations and authoritarian rule. In this book—written as a dialogue between an American democrat named Demo and three East Asian critics—Daniel A. Bell attempts to chart a middle ground between the extremes of the international debate on human rights and democracy.

Bell criticizes the use of "Asian values" to justify oppression, but also draws on East Asian cultural traditions and contributions by contemporary intellectuals in East Asia to identify some powerful challenges to Western-style liberal democracy. In the first part of the book, Bell makes use of colorful stories and examples to show that there is a need to take into account East Asian perspectives on human rights and democracy. The second part—a fictitious dialogue between Demo and Asian senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew—examines the pros and cons of implementing Western-style democracy in Singapore. The third part of the book is an argument for an as-yet-unrealized Confucian political institution that justifiably differs from Western-style liberal democracy.

Daniel A. Bell is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public and Social Administration at the City University of Hong Kong.

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The justice of Islam: comparative perspectives on Islamic law and society. Lawrence Rosen. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. KBL0.R67 2000

From the publisher: One out of five people in the world today lives subject to Islamic law, but stereotypes of rigid doctrine or harsh punishment obscure an understanding of the values and style of reasoning that characterize everyday Islamic adjudication. By considering its larger social and cultural context, this book shows Islamic law to be a kind of common law system: justice is sought through a careful assessment of persons, more than facts, and justice resides not in equality but in a quest for equivalence.

Laurence Rosen is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Princeton University.

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Breaking the deadlock: the 2000 election, the constitution, and the courts. Richard A. Posner. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. KF5074.2.P67 2001

From the cover: The 2000 Presidential election ended in a collision of history, law, and the courts. It produced a deadlock that dragged out the result for over a month, and consequences—real and imagined—that promise to drag on for years. In the first in-depth study of the election and its litigious aftermath, Judge Posner surveys the history and theory of American electoral law and practice, analyzes which Presidential candidate ''really'' won the popular vote in Florida, surveys the litigation that ensued, evaluates the courts, the lawyers, and the commentators, and ends with a blueprint for reforming our Presidential electoral practices.

The book starts with an overview of the electoral process, including its history and guiding theories. It looks next at the Florida election itself, exploring which candidate ''really'' won and whether this is even a meaningful question. The focus then shifts to the complex litigation, both state and federal, provoked by the photo finish. On the basis of the pragmatic jurisprudence that Judge Posner has articulated and defended in his previous writings, this book offers an alternative justification for the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore while praising the Court for averting the chaotic consequences of an unresolved deadlock.

Posner also evaluates the performance of the lawyers who conducted the post-election litigation and of the academics who commented on the unfolding drama. He argues that neither Gore's nor Bush's lawyers blundered seriously, but that the reaction of the legal professoriat to the litigation exposed serious flaws in the academic practice of constitutional law. While rejecting such radical moves as abolishing the Electoral College or creating a national ballot, Posner concludes with a detailed plan of feasible reforms designed to avoid a repetition of the 2000 election fiasco.

Richard A. Posner is a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

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