Featured New Books - October 2014


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Still waiting for tomorrow : the law and politics of unresolved refugee crises

This book focuses on the common features of protracted refugee situations. It is a critical examination of the reasons underlying the extended nature of those crises, as well as potential solutions to them. The book addresses war and armed conflict, environmental change and natural disasters, statelessness and protection gaps, among other elements, as common origins of refugee crises. It analyzes the root causes of some of the longest-standing unresolved refugee situations in the world today (including, but not limited to, the cases of Palestinians, Sahrawis, and Tibetans), addressing the particular political and legal tensions undermining solutions to them. The book comprises contributions from some of the leading scholars and practitioners in the field of international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law, and international relations.


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Philosophical Foundations of Fiduciary Law

Fiduciary law is a critically important body of law. Fiduciary duties ensure the integrity of a remarkable variety of relationships, institutions, and organizations. They apply to relationships of great personal significance, including in some jurisdictions the relationship between parents and children. They structure a wide variety of commercial relationships, and they are essential to the regulation of relationships between professional service providers and their clients, including relationships between lawyer and client, doctor and patient, and investment manager and client. Fiduciary duties, perhaps uniquely in private law, challenge traditional ways of marking the boundaries between private and public law, inasmuch as they figure prominently in public governance. Indeed, there is even a storied tradition of thinking of the authority of the state in fiduciary terms. Notwithstanding its importance, fiduciary law has been woefully under-analyzed by legal theorists. Filling this gap with a series of chapters by leading theorists, this book includes chapters on: the nature of fiduciary relationships, the connection between fiduciary duties and morality, the content and significance of fiduciary loyalty, the economic significance of fiduciary law, the application of fiduciary principles to public law and international law, the import of fiduciary relationships to theories of authority, and various other fundamental topics in the field. In many cases, new and important questions are raised by the book's chapters. Indeed, this book not only offers a much-needed theoretical assessment of fiduciary topics, it defines the field going forward, setting an agenda for future philosophical study of fiduciary law. 


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Blindfolds off : judges on how they decide

Remarkably little is known to the general public, or even to the practicing legal profession, about judges—how they decide cases, how they allocate work between staff and themselves, their work ethic, their psychology, the extralegal influences that play on them.

This important new book penetrates that veil of secrecy with thirteen interviews tape recorded in the chambers of the respective judges. The author, Mr. Joel Cohen, who practices at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP in New York, is a skillful and tenacious, though invariably courteous, interviewer. He has picked as the interviewees federal district judges who have presided in famous, publicity-attracting cases, cases most likely to challenge a judge’s fidelity to a passive, formalistic—which is to say traditional—mode of judicial decision making, and he has focused the interviews on those cases.

We learn a good deal about these judges. And one thing we learn is that judges, even when in the hands as it were of a skillful and persistent and unawed interviewer, are very reluctant to acknowledge a personal element in judging even in the most atypical and challenging case.

The book features selected specific, well known cases for the free-flowing dialogues which follow, from the thousands of cases to which these thirteen judges have been assigned. These are cases which have raised critical questions about justice, policy, precedent and the law and the way in which the currents and tides of their lives and of our ever-changing society have influenced those rulings.

You'll discover if the judges have been open, even aware, of what experiences have influenced their rulings, and where judges acknowledge awareness of these potential influences—of their “priors,” as Judge Posner would articulate it—are they fully candid, to themselves and others, about whether, and to what degree, it has informed their rulings? Or have they contrarily decided, after inwardly acknowledging the “awareness,” that they can or did fairly decide the case, so that they needn’t publicly reveal themselves?

If you are even remotely curious about how judges make decisions, this book provides some eye-opening interviews that will shed light on their decision-making process.


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Successfully competing in U.S. moot court competitions

This short, easy reading book is designed to help students prepare for team selection competitions as well as students who will be competing at U.S. moot court competitions. It includes advice on a range of issues—from selecting a partner to keeping the competition in perspective after it is over. It includes advice based on interviews with successful moot court coaches from several law schools.


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Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and consumer protection act: purpose, critique, implementation status and policy issues

In this volume, what are thought to be some of the more important aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act are discussed from a number of perspectives, including that of industry scholars who have been actively involved in evaluating financial regulation, regulators who are responsible for implementing the reform, financial policy experts representing think tanks and banking trade associations, congressmen and congressional staff involved with developing the legislation, and legal scholars. The volume summarizes the act, evaluates how the new regulations are being implemented and how the implementation process is progressing, and discusses modifications that, in the views of the authors, might be needed to more effectively achieve the stated goals of the legislation.


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Kafka's law : The Trial and American criminal justice

The Trial is actually closer to reality than fantasy as far as the client’s perception of the system. It’s supposed to be a fantastic allegory, but it’s reality. It’s very important that lawyers read it and understand this.” Justice Anthony Kennedy famously offered this assessment of the Kafkaesque character of the American criminal justice system in 1993. While Kafka’s vision of the “Law” in The Trial appears at first glance to be the antithesis of modern American legal practice, might the characteristics of this strange and arbitrary system allow us to identify features of our own system that show signs of becoming similarly nightmarish?
           
With Kafka’s Law, Robert P. Burns shows how The Trial provides an uncanny lens through which to consider flaws in the American criminal justice system today. Burns begins with the story, at once funny and grim, of Josef K., caught in the Law’s grip and then crushed by it. Laying out the features of the Law that eventually destroy K., Burns argues that the American criminal justice system has taken on many of these same features. In the overwhelming majority of contemporary cases, police interrogation is followed by a plea bargain, in which the court’s only function is to set a largely predetermined sentence for an individual already presumed guilty. Like Kafka’s nightmarish vision, much of American criminal law and procedure has become unknowable, ubiquitous, and bureaucratic. It, too, has come to rely on deception in dealing with suspects and jurors, to limit the role of defense, and to increasingly dispense justice without the protection of formal procedures. But, while Kennedy may be correct in his grim assessment, a remedy is available in the tradition of trial by jury, and Burns concludes by convincingly arguing for its return to a more central place in American criminal justice.


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Legalism : community and justice

'Community' and 'justice' recur in anthropological, historical, and legal scholarship, yet as concepts they are notoriously slippery. Historians and lawyers look to anthropologists as 'community specialists', but anthropologists often avoid the concept through circumlocution: although much used (and abused) by historians, legal thinkers, and political philosophers, the term remains strikingly indeterminate and often morally overdetermined. 'Justice', meanwhile, is elusive, alternately invoked as the goal of contemporary political theorizing, and wrapped in obscure philosophical controversy. A conceptual knot emerges in much legal and political thought between law, justice, and community, but theories abound, without any agreement over concepts.

The contributors to this volume use empirical case studies to unpick threads of this knot. Local codes from Anglo-Saxon England, north Africa, and medieval Armenia indicate disjunctions between community boundaries and the subjects of local rules and categories; processes of justice from early modern Europe to eastern Tibet suggest new ways of conceptualizing the relationship between law and justice; and practices of exile that recur throughout the world illustrate contingent formulations of community. In the first book in the series, Legalism: Anthropology and History, law was addressed through a focus on local legal categories as conceptual tools. Here this approach is extended to the ideas and ideals of justice and community. Rigorous cross-cultural comparison allows the contributors to avoid normative assumptions, while opening new avenues of inquiry for lawyers, anthropologists, and historians alike.


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Popular punishment : on the normative significance of public opinion

Should public opinion determine--or even influence--sentencing policy and practice? Should the punishment of criminal offenders reflect what the public regards as appropriate? These deceptively simple questions conceal complex theoretical and methodological challenges to the administration of punishment. 

In the West, politicians have often answered these questions in the affirmative; penal reforms have been justified with direct reference to the attitudes of the public. This is why the contention that politicians should bridge the gap between the public and criminal justice practice has widespread resonance. Criminal law scholars, for their part, have often been more reluctant to accept public input in penal practice, and some have even held that the idea of consulting public opinion constitutes a populist approach to punishment. 

The purpose of this book is to examine the moral significance of public opinion for penal theory and practice. For the first time in a single volume the editors, Jesper Ryberg and Julian V. Roberts, have assembled a number of respected criminologists, philosophers, and legal theorists to address the various aspects of why and how public opinion should be reflected in the way the criminal justice system deals with criminals. The chapters address the myriad complexities surrounding this issue by first weighing the justifications for incorporating public views into punishment practices and then considering the various ways this might be achieved through juries, prosecutors, restorative justice programs, and other means.


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Re-interpreting Blackstone's commentaries : a seminal text in national and international contexts

This collection explores the remarkable impact and continuing influence of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, from the work's original publication in the 1760s down to the present. Contributions by legal and literary scholars, as well as by cultural and intellectual historians, trace the manner in which this truly seminal text has established its authority well beyond the author's native shores or his own limited lifespan. Following an editorial introduction, the first section - "Reading Blackstone" - discusses the Commentaries' aesthetic and literary qualities as factors contributing to the work's unique status in Anglo-American legal culture. The second section considers the nature and dimensions of Blackstone's impact in various non-English jurisdictions (Quebec, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Australasia). The book then examines aspects of Blackstone's constitutional and political ideas. Finally, it provides a personal account of "Reading Blackstone in the Twenty-First Century and the Twenty-First Century through Blackstone." The book is a sequel to the well-received collection Blackstone and His Commentaries: Biography, Law, History.


 


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