Tuesday, April 11, 2023

#BookReview of Courts of Law Not Courts of Justice: Why Justice is Hard to Find in America

Courts of Law Not Courts of Justice: Why Justice is Hard to Find in America

By: Eric D. Oberer
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 11, 2023
ISBN: 978-1639887682
Reviewed by: Rebecca Jane Johnson

Courts of Law Not Courts of Justice reveals why justice is impossible to achieve in the American legal system. The book opens with a consideration of the definition of justice. The author, Eric D. Oberer, argues that most Americans are under the impression that the legal system is supposed to find the truth, provide recourse, and offer fairness. But in creating the US justice system, the forefathers’ main concern was protecting citizens from abuse of power. Oberer observes that mass media, a lack of education, and misinformation from political propaganda have all contributed to a collective misperception that the legal system is supposed to deliver justice. Oberer’s purpose in writing this book is to confront and correct this misperception.

The book explores the argument of the forefather’s intentions that the legal system should always be sure that every citizen is extended the same constitutional rights. The foundation of jurisprudence in the United States was established in an atmosphere of rebellion against a tyrannical government. Constitutional rights are meant to assure that innocent people are not punished for crimes they did not commit. Often this assurance translates to instances where it is clear that someone is guilty of a crime, yet they are released from punishment because a technical misstep occurs during the painstaking due process of law. This book offers engrossing examples of famous criminal cases, including Massachusetts v. Lizzie Borden, Ohio v. Sam Sheppard, California v. O.J. Simpson and more. This is sure to appeal to readers who enjoy true crime as seen from a former Baltimore, Maryland, prosecutor’s perspective.

Oberer’s book is informative, not political. The reader will not find rhetoric that sensationalizes or demonizes the justice system here. Instead, this project educates and informs so as to encourage more realistic demands of the United States legal system. Yes, there is consideration of instances when citizens retaliate against unjust police tactics; examples include historically significant riots that broke out spanning from Harlem in 1964, after the murder of James Powell, up until the nationwide protests of the George Floyd murder in 2020. Riotous responses also suggest real miscarriages of justice have less to do with flaws in the legal system and more to do with fundamental biases, racism and discrimination, dirty politics, abuse of power, and flawed theories upon which law enforcement is based. Oberer discusses ways the Broken Windows theory accounts for disparities in justice for wealthier populations versus poorer populations. Based upon this theory, police presence in certain neighborhoods and police crackdown on petty crime have corroded into deep mistrust amongst citizens and law enforcement officers.

Following Oberer’s observations, it’s a mere hair’s breadth to expand his argument to claim that public trust in law enforcement is just as impossible to achieve as is justice in this country. So, this book does not offer much in the way of solutions but offers lots of nourishing food for thought. It’s readable, well-written, accessible and sensible. This is a great book to read as part of a civics curriculum or to be a well-informed citizen.

Quill says: For Americans seeking to confront flaws in the legal system, this book is a must-read.

For more information on Courts of Law Not Courts of Justice: Why Justice is Hard to Find in America, please visit the author's website at: www.ericoberer.com

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