The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right

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9780060735241: The Myth of Moral Justice: Why Our Legal System Fails to Do What's Right

We are obsessed with watching television shows and feature films about lawyers, reading legal thrillers, and following real-life trials. Yet, at the same time, most of us don't trust lawyers and hold them and the legal system in very low esteem.

In The Myth of Moral Justice, law professor and novelist Thane Rosenbaum suggests that this paradox stems from the fact that citizens and the courts are at odds when it comes to their definitions of justice. With a lawyer's expertise and a novelist's sensability, Rosenbaum tackles complicated philosophical questions about our longing for moral justice. He also takes a critical look at what our legal system does to the spirits of those who must come before the law, along with those who practice within it.

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About the Author:

Thane Rosenbaum teaches courses in human rights, legal humanities, and law and literature at Fordham Law School. He is also an award-winning novelist (The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible). His essays appear frequently in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and other national publications. He lives in New York City with his daughter, Basia Tess.

From Publishers Weekly:

A professor at Fordham Law School, Rosenbaum (The Golems of Gotham) observes that American culture is enthralled by lawyers and courtroom proceedings, yet Americans distrust lawyers and find the quality of justice in this country deficient. He ascribes this what he feels is ambivalence regarding the lack of morality and emotional complexity in law offices and in courtrooms. Rosenbaum calls for a "morally inspired transformation of the legal system," a "massive attitude adjustment" that would replace the sterile formality of the law with conscience and spirituality. To accomplish this, he advocates fewer settlements of cases and more trials, at which injured parties would be permitted, even encouraged, to vent rage at their oppressors. A novelist as well as teacher of law and literature, Rosenbaum believes in the power of storytelling as a means of healing and insists the storytelling should continue even after judgment is entered. A second trial phase should immediately convene, one in which all participants would discuss their grief, disappointment and shame. No one would be permitted to leave until all the stories had been told in full. On other themes, Rosenbaum urges that a duty to rescue should be recognized in American law as a moral imperative, and endorses apologies as beneficial to victims and wrongdoers alike. Readers will recognize that this book is more visionary than practical, and lawyers will be annoyed at the author's scolding and superior tone. But perhaps provoking lawyers is part of the book's point.
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