Winner of The Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
Attorney and journalist Amy Bach spent eight years investigating the widespread courtroom failures that each day upend lives across America. There, she observed professionals working in the system who, however well intentioned, cannot see the harm they are doing to the people they serve. There is a public defender pleads most of his clients guilty with scant knowledge about their circumstances; a judge who sets outrageous bail for negligible crimes; a prosecutor who habitually declines to pursue significant cases; a court that works together to achieve a wrongful conviction.
In an inquiry that moves from small-town Georgia to upstate New York, from Mississippi to Chicago, Ordinary Injustice shows the consequences that result when communities mistake the rules that lawyers play by for the rule of law. Amy Bach goes beyond the usual explanations of bad apples and meager funding to reveal a clubby legal culture of compromise. She exposes an assembly-line approach to justice that rewards mediocre advocacy, bypasses due process, and shortchanges both defendants and victims to keep the court calendar moving. It is time, Bach argues, to institute a new method of checks and balances that will make injustice visible—the first and necessary step to reform.
With human stories, sharp analysis, and a sense of urgency, Ordinary Injustice is a major reassessment of the health of the nation's courtrooms.