DENIAL OF JUSTICE: Criminal Process in the United States by Lloyd L. Weinreb

DENIAL OF JUSTICE: Criminal Process in the United States

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Don't expect to hear much about Miranda warnings, illegal searches, or Supreme Court hairsplittings from Weinreb; to him, the criminal-rights revolution of the 1960s hasn't mattered much, because the American system--police as investigators, trials as lawyer-to-lawyer combat--can't help but be unfair, inefficient, and resistant to judicial pronouncements. Weinreb tackles the shoddy realities of criminal procedure chronologically--arrest, booking, investigation, trial--and finds, from the stationhouse to the bench, too much responsibility resting with the police and with the legal profession, two institutions ""which have other primary interests."" Police should stick to keeping the peace, says Weinreb, and defense lawyers and prosecutors shouldn't be in a position to plea-bargain or prolong jury selection--tactical maneuvers unrelated to justice. His alternative? The creation of an ""investigating magistracy, a public institution unknown in this country."" Magistrates would remove suspects from police custody at the earliest possible moment after arrest, direct impartial investigations, and see the accused through to judgment. The adversary notion of trial would be scrapped for a let's-all-get-at-the-truth credo, and a ten-member jury would include laymen, attorneys, and a magistrate. Weinreb condemns the status quo and outlines his revolutionary scheme with unrevolutionary calm and reasonableness, and, most significantly, without seeming to ally himself with either the bleeding-heart or law-and-order contingent. One might wish, nonetheless, for some livelier syntax and less repetition, along with details on how this magistracy set-up works in the ""other countries"" Weinreb mentions with frustrating vagueness. No fire--just a convincing argument for a thorough overhaul of American criminal process.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan