The Pursuit of Justice: Law and Economics of Legal Institutions

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The Pursuit of Justice is a realistic yet hopeful analysis of how the law works in practice rather than in theory. The multi-chapter discussion recognizes that decision makers in the law -- judges, lawyers, juries, police, forensic experts and more -- respond systematically to the incentive structures with which they are confronted. In turn, incentives are a function of economic and institutional design. While these chapters shed light on how perverse incentives result in adverse outcomes, each chapter also suggests institutional reforms that would create better incentives within the legal system.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The American legal system is not just fraying at the edges, in some ways it is fundamentally broken. The Pursuit of Justice is a cutting-edge look at what went wrong and where to go from here. Everyone interested in law and economics should read it."--Tyler Cowen, Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics, George Mason University, co-author,

The Pursuit of Justice does a wonderful job of using modern methods of social science to examine the actual effects of law, as differentiated from its apparent intent. People do not simply obey or disobey laws; rather, they react to the incentives implied in the law. Those incentives often produce results that differ from what is legally mandated, because people may have an incentive to find loopholes in the law and because laws often have unintended secondary effects. By taking into account the actual effects of the legal system, this volume offers substantial insight into the way the legal system works in practice, and how it can be improved.”--Randall G. Holcombe, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics, Florida State University

“Judges, police, prosecutors and lawyers are all people with their own goals and constraints. They may care about social welfare, but they certainly care about other things as well. The discipline of Public Choice has contributed greatly to our understanding of political behavior by taking this perspective with respect to politicians. The Pursuit of Justice begins the very important process of applying this insight to the functioning of the legal system. The American legal system has many flaws, and this most insightful book will contribute both to understanding the source of these flaws and then to fixing them.”--Paul H. Rubin, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics and Law, Emory University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230102453
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/15/2010
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward J. López is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and a professor of law and economics at San Jose State University.

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Table of Contents

An Introduction to the Pursuit of Justice--Edward J. Lopez
• The Rise of Government Law Enforcement in England--Nicholas Currott
• Electoral Pressures and the Legal System: Friends or Foes?--Russell S. Sobel
• Romancing Forensics: Legal Failure in Forensic Science Administration--Roger G. Koppl
• Judicial Checks on Corruption--Adriana Cordis
• Effects of Judicial Selection on Criminal Sentencing--Aleksandar Tomic * Economic Development Takings as Government Failure--Ilya Somin
• On the Impossibility of “Just Compensation” When Property is Taken--John Brätland
• The Lawyer-Judge Hypothesis--Benjamin H. Barton
• Class Action Rent Extraction--Jeffrey Haymond
Cy Pres and its Predators--Charles N. W. Keckler
• Licensing Lawyers: Failure in the Provision of Legal Services--Adam B. Summers

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