WITH JUSTICE FOR SOME

DEFENDING VICTIMS IN CRIMINAL TRIALS

This sharp, sensible, ``angry'' book explores how four classes of disempowered Americans look to the criminal justice system to vindicate past grievances, and how the courts too often betray them. Using recent front-page criminal cases, Fletcher (Law/Columbia Univ.; Loyalty, 1992, etc.) shows how when crime victims are gays, blacks, Jews, or women, the defense counsel can exploit the prejudices of judge and jury. Fletcher explains how the preposterous ``Twinkie defense''—the argument that Dan White murdered San Francisco's gay supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone as a result of binging on junk food—gave jurors the opportunity to avoid convicting White of murdering someone whose lifestyle they found repugnant. Similarly, the first trial in the Rodney King beating was derailed by the defense's ability to change the venue of the trial to white suburban Simi Valley, and by the prosecution's decision to forbid King to testify—he remained a symbol to the jury of drug-crazed black rage. Fletcher draws an intriguing parallel between that trial and those for the murders of Jewish nationalist Meir Kahane and scholar Yankel Rosenbaum, which were tainted by the defense's ability to stir up the anti-Semitism of minority jurors. Then, in a surprising about-face, he argues that the ability of women to exploit their status as victims has led to some erroneous convictions, most notably that of Mike Tyson, who may have been ``honestly and reasonably mistaken'' as to Desiree Washington's consent. Fletcher also argues that when minorities rallly behind crime victims from their group, they fuel the defense's ability to exploit jurors' prejudices, but this part of his argument never quite gels. The author has concrete suggestions for making our criminal justice system more just for victims and defendants: e.g., abolish changes of venue, permit the victim to question witnesses and veto plea bargains, limit the testimony of ``experts.'' His style is robust, straightforward, and notably jargon-free. For its sensitivity to the rights of victims and defendants alike, a remarkable work.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-201-62254-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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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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