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Click on a title below to access either an individual article (denoted by an asterisk) or a set of articles published as a Special Report. The issue of publication appears in parentheses.

Special Reports for " Law"

Justice Follies: The Trial of O.J. Simpson

The trial of O.J. Simpson offers a unique window on our justice system. For months, "the dream team" has fought with prosecutors for coutroom advantage. It is not just O.J. who is on trial: it is the legal system itself.
Illustration by Marcia Klioze Hughes/The World & I 

Today, our courts are overwhelmed: Dockets are so full it takes months, even years, to get a case before a judge. Valid claims are often ...

Adversarial Justice
We take it as axiomatic that our trial courts dispense justice. The very legitimacy of the courts depends on that expectation. Yet the reliance we place in our adversarial trial court system to deliver just decisions is a misguided leap of faith. This is neither a radical nor novel perspective. Consider, for example, this observation by the eminent jurist Karl Llewellyn: "The adversary trial seems from outside like back-handedness or trickery which approaches a travesty on justice; a dragging, awkward, unreliable machinery at best; at worst, one which is manipulated. In consequence ... there is not one sole excrescence of trial machinery that will find one sole jot of support from any person in the court except the lawyer. ...

Truth on Trial
The O.J. Simpson trial and its inordinate presence in the American landscape illustrate many of the deficiencies of American justice and of an American society consumed by adversarial confrontation. The carnivalesque quality of this media production is testimony to the lack of balance, of measured proportionality, in our collective judgments. Bloating reality until it is absurdly disfigured and then accepting the distortion as a reflection of the truth are at the heart of this spectacle. Everyone is buying and reading the grocery tabloid, firmly convinced that it is the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, or--in our more hysterical moments--a Shakespearean play. ...

Criminal Procedure: Justice English Style
American law grew out of English law, and American criminal procedure grew out of English criminal procedure. In broad outline, both still look very similar. In both, there are two types of procedure: a rapid one, leading to a reduced sentence, for those who will plead guilty, and a slow and cumbersome one for those who deny their guilt. ...

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