COURT REFORM ON TRIAL is a recognized study of innovation in the process of criminal justice, and why it so often fails—despite the best intentions of judges, administrators, and reformers. The arc of innovation to disappointment is analyzed for such ideas as bail reform, pretrial diversion, speedy trials, and determinate sentencing. A much-maligned system of plea bargaining shifts power to prosecutors away from judges, as formal trials recede in importance—but is that really the problem? Perhaps it lies in unrealistic expectations, splintered systems and decisionmaking, waning political will, unempowered constituencies, and reformers’ hubris. Feeley analyzes the persistent failure and proposes insightful pathways out of the cycle.
First commissioned as a study in the influential Twentieth Century Fund series, the book is accessible for today’s readers as part of the Classics of Law & Society series. It adds a reflective new preface by the author and a foreword by Greg Berman, Executive Director of the Center for Court Innovation. The new edition embeds page numbers from the original printings, for continuity of referencing and classroom assignment and to provide meaningful, matching page numbers in the ebook formats.
Calling it an “intellectual touchstone … brimming with energy not resignation,” Greg Berman writes that the book “has all of the hallmarks of Feeley’s best work. Lucid prose. Idiosyncratic analysis. A willingness to speak truth to vested interests. And a commitment to describing the way the world actually works from a ground-level perspective—as opposed to the official versions of how systems theoretically should function.” … “The world has changed a lot and not at all” since the book was first published, Berman adds. “What is striking reading COURT REFORM ON TRIAL again in 2013 is just how relevant it still is.”
As U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein noted (as to the first edition), “At last the intelligent layman and lawyer have a sophisticated but easily understood analysis of what can and should be done to improve the administration of justice in the United States. What a welcome relief from the demagoguery that permeates most public discussion of the problem.” And in reviewing the book in the California Law Review, Judge William Schwarzer stated, “Public interest in other issues waxes and wanes, but court reform has constituencies that never seem to tire. Feeley’s book offers an interesting and insightful panorama of efforts to reform the criminal justice system.” Now available again for those constituencies, and readers in many fields, to have a fresh view of the panorama.
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- ISBN 978-1-61027-202-5 (pbk.); list price: US $28.99
ISBN 978-1-61027-203-2 (eBook); list price: $8.99
- ASIN B00E1ROATA (Kindle)
- Page count: 202 pp.
- About the author:
- Malcolm M. Feeley is the Claire Sanders Clements Dean’s Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. Before joining the UC faculty, he taught at NYU, Yale, and Wisconsin. At Berkeley he has directed both the Center for the Study of Law and Society and the Jurisprudence & Social Policy Ph.D. Program. He has been a visiting professor at several universities, including Hebrew University, Kobe University, and Princeton, and in 2013 he held, in Australia, the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies. He is the author of many articles and over a dozen books, including THE POLICY DILEMMA (with Sarat), JUDICIAL POLICY MAKING (with Rubin), and FEDERALISM (with Rubin). His book THE PROCESS IS THE PUNISHMENT received the ABA’s Silver Gavel Award. The present study, COURT REFORM ON TRIAL, also received the ABA’s Certificate of Merit when it was first published.