Our trial courts conduct hardly any trials, our correctional systems do not correct, and the rise of mandated arbitration has ushered in a shadowy system of privatized "justice." Meanwhile, our legislators can't even follow their own rules for making rules, while the rule of law mutates into a perpetual state of emergency. The legal system is becoming an incomprehensible farce. How did this happen?
In The Nonsense Factory, Bruce Cannon Gibney shows that over the past seventy years, the legal system has dangerously confused quantity with quality and might with legitimacy. As the law bloats into chaos, it staggers on only by excusing itself from the very commands it insists that we obey, leaving Americans at the mercy of arbitrary power. By examining the system as a whole, Gibney shows that the tragedies often portrayed as isolated mistakes or the work of bad actors police misconduct, prosecutorial overreach, and the outrages of imperial presidencies are really the inevitable consequences of law's descent into lawlessness.
The first book to deliver a lucid, comprehensive overview of the entire legal system, from the grandeur of Constitutional theory to the squalid workings of Congress, The Nonsense Factory provides a deeply researched and witty examination of America's state of legal absurdity, concluding with sensible options for reform.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Author's Note xiii
Preface: The Exception Is the Rule xvii
Chapter 1 The Value of Law: More Than Just a Nuisance 1
Chapter 2 Jurisprudence: Making and Breaking Law 23
Chapter 3 Legal Education: The School as Scandal 45
Chapter 4 Legislatures: Outsourced Sausage-Making 71
Chapter 5 Bureaucracy: Empire by Form 104
Chapter 6 Judges: Robots, Umpires, or Gods? 132
Chapter 7 Arbitration: Privatized Justice 170
Chapter 8 Legal Economics: Putting a Price on Priceless 193
Chapter 9 Prosecutors and Defenders: Angels of Vengeance and Mercy 220
Chapter 10 Police: The Thick Blue Line 243
Chapter 11 Proof: The Evidence for Evidence 277
Chapter 12 Remedies: How Many Wrongs Make a Right? 306
Chapter 13 Failing from the Top Down: Imperial Presidencies and Constitutional Erosion 342
Conclusion: Proposals Modest and Otherwise 368
Appendix: A Binding Illustration of Why People Hate the Law 380