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.
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Justice Follies: The Trial of O.J. SimpsonThe 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 ...
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
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. ...