The goddess of justice is blind—and deaf and very often dumb—according to this savvy critique of the American legal system.
Moran, a lawyer, journalist and founding editor of The New York Jury Verdict Reporter, knows firsthand the problems that plague American jurisprudence, and isn’t afraid to point fingers. Topping his rogue’s gallery are “incompetent idiots” on the bench, including justices of the peace who don’t even need a high-school diploma to throw people in jail and trial judges who fall asleep during testimony. (And no, that won’t get your conviction overturned, Moran notes, unless you can prove the judge slept through something important.) Then there are the personal injury lawyers who cast about for deep pockets to sue no matter how dubious the liability, the attorneys who rake in millions from class-action suits that net their “clients” a few dollars each, the jurors—like Moran’s uncle—who base verdicts on off-the-wall theories instead of the evidence, the legislators who craft stupid laws and Supreme Court justices who uphold them based on tortured readings of the Interstate Commerce Clause. (Not always in contempt of court, Moran does allow that, often enough, judges are underpaid and conscientious, lawyers careful and upright and malpractice suits well-founded.) The author sets his indictment against a lucid outline of basic legal concepts and court procedures and nuanced discussions of everything from the propriety of electing judges to the mortgage-foreclosure robo-signing scandals. Moran writes in an entertaining, wised-up style, his punchy prose laced with black humor and an inexhaustible supply of anecdotes. His free-wheeling arguments shade from law into politics and beyond, as he enters a sweeping condemnation of a litigious society bound up in red tape because of liability fears, takes swipes at the New Deal regulatory state and even throws soup at snooty French waiters. It’s a bit over-stuffed, but Moran’s street-cred, irreverent wit and gift for translating legal arcana into laymen’s terms make for a persuasive brief.
A lively, brash, illuminating insider’s look at the law, by a compelling expert witness.