Would You Convict?: Seventeen Cases That Challenged the Law

Would You Convict?: Seventeen Cases That Challenged the Law

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by Paul H. Robinson, Russell Hardin
     
 

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A police trooper inspects a car during a routine traffic stop and finds a vast cache of weapons, complete with automatic rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and black ski masks-a veritable bank robber's kit. Should the men in the car be charged? If so, with what?

A son neglects to care for his elderly mother, whose emaciated form is discovered shortly

Overview

A police trooper inspects a car during a routine traffic stop and finds a vast cache of weapons, complete with automatic rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and black ski masks-a veritable bank robber's kit. Should the men in the car be charged? If so, with what?

A son neglects to care for his elderly mother, whose emaciated form is discovered shortly before she dies a painful death. Is the son's neglect punishable, and if so how?

A career con man writes one bad check too many and is sentenced to life in prison-for a check in the amount of $129.75. Is this just?

A thief steals a backpack, only to find it contains a terrorist bomb. He alerts the police and saves lives, transforming himself from petty criminal to national hero.

These are just a few of the many provocative cases that Paul Robinson presents and unravels in Would You Convict?

Judging crimes and meting out punishment has long been an informal national pasttime. High-profile crimes or particularly brutal ones invariably prompt endless debate, in newspapers, on television, in coffee shops, and on front porches. Our very nature inclines us to be armchair judges, freely waving our metaphorical gavels and opining as to the innocence or guilt-and suitable punishment-of alleged criminals.

Confronting this impulse, Paul Robinson here presents a series of unusual episodes that not only challenged the law, but that defy a facile or knee-jerk verdict. Narrating the facts in compelling, but detached detail, Robinson invites readers to sentence the transgressor (or not), before revealing the final outcome of the case.

The cases described in Would You Convict? engage, shock, even repel. Without a doubt, they will challenge you and your belief system. And the way in which juries and judges have resolved them will almost certainly surprise you.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Anyone interested in law will enjoy this book. . . . Highly recommended."

-Choice

"Paul Robinson, one of our most distinguished scholars for criminal law, has found a novel mode for both communicating the law to lay people and for integrating popular sentiments into the process of law reform. Everyone interested in the problems of moral and criminal responsibility should read this book, formulate a view about the issues, and discuss the problems with others. Make your view heard and the law will become more just!"

-George P. Fletcher,Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence, Columbia University, and author of A Crime of Self-Defense: Bernhard Goetz and the Law on Trial

"In this captivating book, Paul Robinson brings to life the central problems of the criminal law in a most unusual way. He confronts his readers with a cross-section of the most perplexing cases the law has to contend with (robbers armed to the hilt for a ‘job', but arrested long before they have had a chance to decide what that ‘job' is going to be; or a killer whose victim ends up dying in a way the killer never foresaw) and tries to get them to ‘solve' the case before revealing how the law has actually dealt with it. Then, based on his earlier pioneering research into popular perceptions of justice, he is able to tell readers how their peers would have judged the same case. It's a book that should appeal to the academic, the student and the general reader alike."

-Leo Katz,author of Ill-Gotten Gains: Evasion, Fraud, and Kindred Puzzles of the Law

"Paul Robinson's writings have established him as the preeminent authority on what American criminal law is and on what the American public thinks of its criminal law. Would You Convict? Masterfully combines his two fields of expertise. Legal scholars, law students, and ordinary citizens will all benefit immensely from this work."

-Dan M. Kahan,Professor of Law, Yale University

”Fascinating reading."

-Library Journal

Library Journal
Are bad intentions punishable by law? Should a criminal be absolved of a crime if, in the end, that crime somehow benefits society? Is ignorance of the law an excuse for breaking it? The courts grapple with such issues daily. To maintain its moral credibility, argues Robinson (law, Northwestern Univ.), criminal law must guard against any wide discrepancies between deserved and imposed punishment. Here he offers 17 cases that have challenged the law's credibility, giving readers the chance to compare their decisions with those of several hundred persons he has polled and with the decisions of the courts. The result is fascinating reading. However, with almost a third of the book devoted to an appendix of applicable statutes and with a somewhat academic discussion of each case, this is really not suited to the average Court TV fan. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.--Jim G. Burns, Ottumwa P.L., IA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Robinson (law, Northwestern U.) presents 17 challenging and provocative cases, both recent and historical, that defy easy decisions. He describes each situation and invites the reader to "sentence" the transgressor, then provides the final outcome of the case to shed light on how the legal system worked in each case, for better or for worse. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814775301
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Pages:
329
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Paul Robinson, one of our most distinguished scholars for criminal law, has found a novel mode for both communicating the law to lay people and for integrating popular sentiments into the process of law reform. Everyone interested in the problems of moral and criminal responsibility should read this book, formulate a view about the issues, and discuss the problems with others. Make your view heard and the law will become more just!"

-George P. Fletcher,Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence, Columbia University, and author of A Crime of Self-Defense: Bernhard Goetz and the Law on Trial

"Paul Robinson's writings have established him as the preeminent authority on what American criminal law is and on what the American public thinks of its criminal law. Would You Convict? Masterfully combines his two fields of expertise. Legal scholars, law students, and ordinary citizens will all benefit immensely from this work."

-Dan M. Kahan,Professor of Law, Yale University

"Fascinating reading."

-Library Journal,

"In this captivating book, Paul Robinson brings to life the central problems of the criminal law in a most unusual way. He confronts his readers with a cross-section of the most perplexing cases the law has to contend with (robbers armed to the hilt for a 'job', but arrested long before they have had a chance to decide what that 'job' is going to be; or a killer whose victim ends up dying in a way the killer never foresaw) and tries to get them to 'solve' the case before revealing how the law has actually dealt with it. Then, based on his earlier pioneering research into popular perceptions of justice, he is able to tell readers how their peers would have judged the same case. It's a book that should appeal to the academic, the student and the general reader alike."

-Leo Katz,author of Ill-Gotten Gains: Evasion, Fraud, and Kindred Puzzles of the Law

"Anyone interested in law will enjoy this book. . . . Highly recommended."

-Choice

Meet the Author

Paul H. Robinson has written influential commentary for the New York Times (on the Unabomber case), the Wall Street Journal (on the beating of Reginald Denny after the O.J. verdict), and for Atlantic Monthly. The author of several books, he is currently the Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Professor of Law at Northwestern University.

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Would You Convict?: Seventeen Cases That Challenged the Law 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MerlinDB More than 1 year ago
Quite interesting in spots but gets bogged down in legal theory and precedents.