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A BOOK OF LEGAL LISTS by Bernard Schwartz

A BOOK OF LEGAL LISTS

The Best and Worst in American Law with 150 Court and Judge Trivia Questions

By Bernard Schwartz

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-19-510961-9
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

 A mildly diverting collection of legal ``top tens,'' by law professor Schwartz (Univ. of Tulsa; Decision: How the Supreme Court Decides Cases, 1996, etc.) Obsessive legal buffs and punchy insomniac law students may enjoy quibbling with Schwartz's choices for such honors as Ten Greatest Supreme Court Justices, Ten Worst Non-Supreme Court Decisions, Ten Greatest Dissenting Opinions, Ten Greatest Lawyers, and Ten Greatest Trials. (O.J.'s checks in at Number 10 on the Great Trials list, but none of the Dream Team gets tapped for the Lawyers list.) The 13 lists are followed by brief essays justifying each inclusion; occasionally, the author appends a list of honorable mentions. For example, Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona don't make the list of Ten Greatest Supreme Court Decisions on the questionable ground that they lacked the requisite ``influence on the law''; Benjamin Cardozo and Felix Frankfurter don't make Ten Greatest Supreme Court Justices on the ground that their most significant contributions predated their appointments to the High Court. Unfortunately, Schwartz doesn't grasp the sport of such a collection: He doesn't explain his rankings. Why, on the list of Supreme Court Greats, does Brennan outrank Brandeis? On the list of Worsts, why does Pierce Butler outrank Sherman Minton, ``best remembered as the last to use the spittoon''? The mini-essays are accessible enough for the general reader, but too reductive and too bland for the intended law wonks. One hundred and fifty legal trivia questions follow, many duplicating the content of the essays. Like the lists, they are too straight for their own good. (Quick: Which justice served as a bank president? Which chief justices served as ambassadors while on the Court?) A missed opportunity to play games with J.D.s.