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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70307 Find in a Library
Title: Partisan Justice
Author(s): M E Frankel
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 144
Sponsoring Agency: Hill and Wang
New York, NY 10003
Sale Source: Hill and Wang
19 Union Square West
New York, NY 10003
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book contends that the adversary process, though fundamentally sound, has spawned excesses over the centuries, most notably and excessive tolerance for efforts by the contestants to distort the truth.
Abstract: The adversary system's profound values include the right of every interest to be heard, the right to confront one's accusers or opponents, the right to hear and test all the evidence in open court, and the corollary assurance that courts will not proceed on secret evidence or undisclosed materials of any kind. However, the traditions of the lawyer as the client's zealous champion have resulted in frightening tactics that often tend to thwart rather than promote just results in the legal system. Whether officially countenanced or not, common practices of lawyers on behalf of clients include the blocking or obfuscation of the truth, tricks to make honest witnesses look like liars, and the use of courtroom devices to harass and burden opponents. Judges, sworn to impartiality but trained in combat, often slip into partisan roles that they themselves may fail to recognize. Although this book does not propose forsaking the adversary ideal in its essential form, it does suggest that some of the excesses can and should be curbed. For example, the lawyer's ethical code should be revised to elevate the duty to seek truth and justice while tempering the canon of blind devotion to the client. A National Legal Service (NLS), a government-funded service to promote public access to legal service comparable to socialized medicine in Great Britain, is proposed as a means to modify the professional and economic stakes of the legal system. Lawyers commissioned to care about the public interest--and motivated to pursue that interest with maximum effectiveness--would be less invested in the need to prevail than are lawyers as private competition. Lawyerless tribunals and mediation are other methods of curbing adversary excesses. In addition, studies of prerecorded videotape trials (PRVTT's) indicate that the elimination of the annoyances and diversions of the 'live' trial promotes more concentrated attention and even better memory of the testimony than is achieved in the standard procedure. Other areas of reform include limiting jury trials and modifying some cumbersome rules of evidence. Chapter notes are provided. (Author abstract modified).
Index Term(s): Attorney judge evaluation; Attorneys; Court reform; Jurisprudence; Legal doctrines; Reform; Trials
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