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See You in Court: How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation
     

See You in Court: How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation

by Thomas Geoghegan
 

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While just about everyone agrees that we’ve become a lawsuit nation, is it really class actions by a coterie of private trial lawyers whose enormous settlements and, in Karl Rove’s words, “junk lawsuits” that are subverting democracy? Thomas Geoghegan, whom Time called “a modern-day Quixote of the legal profession,” thinks

Overview

While just about everyone agrees that we’ve become a lawsuit nation, is it really class actions by a coterie of private trial lawyers whose enormous settlements and, in Karl Rove’s words, “junk lawsuits” that are subverting democracy? Thomas Geoghegan, whom Time called “a modern-day Quixote of the legal profession,” thinks not.

In this impassioned rebuttal to Philip K. Howard’s The Death of Common Sense, Geoghegan deftly shows how conservatives’ dismantling of America’s postwar legal system opened the floodgates of litigation. Most often people sue, he argues, because of what they have lost—contract rights, pensions, health insurance, decent medical care, and strong unions. Without these methods of preempting and resolving disputes, Americans who face injury, bankruptcy, discrimination, or injustice are left with no recourse but the lawsuit.

Both smart and provocative, See You in Court shows why the right is wrong about the source of our lawsuit culture and points the way back to civil society.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Americans find themselves more and more in the toils of the law while getting less justice, declares labor attorney Geoghegan (In America's Court: How a Civil Lawyer Who Likes to Settle Stumbled into a Criminal Trial, 2002, etc.). Elaborating on themes from such earlier books as Which Side Are You On? (1991), the author looks at the massive changes in American society wrought by the implosion of the union movement (wounded by gutted legal protections that were weak to begin with) and by the economic, legal and social anomie of the middle class. Noting the nation's current, dramatically skewed distribution of income, Geoghegan argues that we now have a serious sense of disconnect between effort and reward. The U.S. has shifted from a contract-based society with a stable of reasonably well-known rewards to a tort-based crapshoot, in which more people invoke the legal process but less justice is achieved. The mediating influence of many institutions-including unions, of course-has waned. Geoghegan makes no bones about being an unreconstructed liberal of the bread-and-butter variety. He is openly contemptuous of the collapse of fiduciary law as it applies to corporate leadership, of our lengthy discovery-driven legal proceedings, of the diminishing use of injunctions to achieve justice and of the arbitration that was supposed to effectively and efficiently substitute for litigation. This might be unbearably grim, were it not for a writing voice that positions the author as someone with whom you would cheerfully spend four or five hours in a bar somewhere, arguing the whole time, who would then send you home to the sound sleep of the just, confident that civilization was probably still more orless salvageable, if only Geoghegan would either lead, shut up or simply get out of the way. Will clean out your political cholesterol and make you think about the long-term, systemic effects of the legal and cultural wars in which we are now engaged.
From the Publisher
"Entertaining . . . breezy. . . . The essential charm of Geoghegan’s writing is his honest, self-deprecatory style." —The Washington Monthly

"Good fun . . . [Geoghegan’s] a sharp thinker. . . . See You in Court makes a good case that deregulation has damaged the justice system in many ways." —Chicago Reader

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595584106
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
01/05/2009
Pages:
246
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.86(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Geoghegan is a practicing attorney and the author of several books, including In America’s Court: How a Civil Lawyer Who Likes to Settle Stumbled into a Criminal Trial, the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It’s Flat on Its Back, See You in Court: How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation, and Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life, all published by The New Press. He has written for The Nation, the New York Times, and Harper’s. He lives in Chicago.

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