JUSTICE OVERRULED

UNMASKING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

A judge-turned-pundit proposes to fix America's ``broken'' criminal justice system. In his previous incarnations as prosecutor, defense attorney, and L.A. Municipal and Superior Court judge, TV and radio commentator Katz waded ``waist-deep in the muck'' of a criminal justice system that, he says, encouraged cops to lie, attorneys to deceive, juries to snooze, and judges to abdicate control over their courtrooms. Here Katz assaults the system from all sides, beginning with the ``byzantine'' judge-made rules for excluding relevant but wrongly seized evidence in criminal cases. According to Katz, the exclusionary rule forces good cops to ``testi-ly'' to retroactively conform their behavior to ``demeaning'' procedures. (In his controversial view, ``cops may lie about how they got the evidence . . . [but] they rarely lie about the defendant's guilt.'') Katz also favors scrapping Miranda warnings; instead, all statements given to police should be videotaped, then subjected to judicial hearings. If rolling back such key Warren Court reforms seems unlikely, Katz offers numerous other suggestions embraced by more centrist court watchers: limiting peremptory challenges of potential jurors; firing all jury consultants; dispensing with the requirement that verdicts be unanimous, except in the penalty phase of capital cases; sanctioning ``intemperate'' attorneys with jail sentences, fines, and even disbarment; and limiting ``abuse-excuse'' testimony to probation and sentencing hearings. Katz's incisive, specific, tough-but-fair analysis is marred only by a racially insensitive anecdote and a general tendency toward self-aggrandizement (quoting transcripts of his own court performances and laudatory letters) and self-justification (repeatedly explaining his controversial rulings as judge in the trial of stalked-and-murdered actress Dominique Dunne). The writing is punchy, but sometimes sounds as if it had been dictated rather than written by the author (``How many more were out there just like her? Black, brown, yellow, white? Color didn't matter. Only the children; they matter.''). Despite its flaws, a standout in the growing genre of judge tell-alls. (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 11, 1997

ISBN: 0-446-52042-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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