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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Ordinary Injustice

Ordinary Injustice

How America Holds Court

Amy Bach

Picador

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"A groundbreaking book . . . revealing the systemic, everyday problems in our courts that must be addressed if justice is truly to be served."—Doris Kearns Goodwin

Attorney and journalist Amy Bach spent eight years investigating the widespread courtroom failures that each day upend lives across America. What she found was an assembly-line approach to justice: a system that rewards mediocre advocacy, bypasses due process, and shortchanges both defendants and victims to keep the court calendar moving.

Here is the public defender who pleads most of his clients guilty with scant knowledge about their circumstances; the judge who sets outrageous bail for negligible crimes; the prosecutor who habitually declines to pursue significant cases; the court that works together to achieve a wrongful conviction. Going beyond the usual explanations of bad apples and meager funding, Ordinary Injustice reveals a clubby legal culture of compromise, and shows the tragic consequences that result when communities mistake the rules that lawyers play by for the rule of law. 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.

Robert F. Kennedy Book Award - Winner

CHAPTER ONE

"WHAT'S A DEFENSE?"

I didn't know I was going to jail," I heard a defendant say as she stood before the judge in Greene County, Georgia. Of course she didn't. No one had told her the consequences of pleading guilty. Most...

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Amy Bach

Amy Bach, a member of the New York bar, has written on law for The Nation, The American Lawyer, and New York magazine, among other publications. For her work in progress on Ordinary Injustice, Bach received a Soros Media Fellowship, a special J. Anthony Lukas citation, and a Radcliffe Fellowship. She lives in Rochester, New York, where she taught legal studies at the University of Rochester.

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Amy Bach

Picador

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