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When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice
     

When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice

by Austin Sarat, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.
 

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Since 1989, there have been over 200 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States. On the surface, the release of innocent people from prison could be seen as a victory for the criminal justice system: the wrong person went to jail, but the mistake was fixed and the accused set free. A closer look at miscarriages of justice, however, reveals that such

Overview

Since 1989, there have been over 200 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States. On the surface, the release of innocent people from prison could be seen as a victory for the criminal justice system: the wrong person went to jail, but the mistake was fixed and the accused set free. A closer look at miscarriages of justice, however, reveals that such errors are not aberrations but deeply revealing, common features of our legal system.

The ten original essays in When Law Fails view wrongful convictions not as random mistakes but as organic outcomes of a misshaped larger system that is rife with faulty eyewitness identifications, false confessions, biased juries, and racial discrimination. Distinguished legal thinkers Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., and Austin Sarat have assembled a stellar group of contributors who try to make sense of justice gone wrong and to answer urgent questions. Are miscarriages of justice systemic or symptomatic, or are they mostly idiosyncratic? What are the broader implications of justice gone awry for the ways we think about law? Are there ways of reconceptualizing legal missteps that are particularly useful or illuminating? These instructive essays both address the questions and point the way toward further discussion.

When Law Fails reveals the dramatic consequences as well as the daily realities of breakdowns in the law’s ability to deliver justice swiftly and fairly, and calls on us to look beyond headline-grabbing exonerations to see how failure is embedded in the legal system itself. Once we are able to recognize miscarriages of justice we will be able to begin to fix our broken legal system.

Contributors: Douglas A. Berman, Markus D. Dubber, Mary L. Dudziak, Patricia Ewick, Daniel Givelber, Linda Ross Meyer, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Austin Sarat, Jonathan Simon, and Robert Weisberg.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Based on 200-plus exonerations in fewer than 20 years, this book argues that wrongful convictions are not an anomaly but rather the outcome of a legal system that commonly fails. Part of a series originating with Harvard Law School's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice (CHHIRJ), these ten essays discuss legal system shortcomings, their basis, and possible ways that inherent mechanisms of the law contribute to injustice. Each essay delves into a different way of looking at the miscarriage of justice, be it legal, political, or cultural. Ogletree (Jesse Climenko Professor of Law & executive director, CHHIRJ, Harvard Law Sch.; From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State) and Sarat (William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst Coll.; Pain, Death, and the Law) have assembled an outstanding group of contributors for these original essays. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
—Krista Bush

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814762257
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Series:
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute Series on Race and Justice
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
359
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. Previous collaborations for NYU Press with Charles J. Ogletree include From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America (2006), When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarraiges of Justice (2009), and The Road to Abolition? The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States (2010).


Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. is Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. Previous collaborations for NYU Press with Austin Sarat include From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America (2006), When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarraiges of Justice (2009), and The Road to Abolition? The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States (2010).

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