The Tilted Playing Field: Is Criminal Justice Unfair?

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9780300075847: The Tilted Playing Field: Is Criminal Justice Unfair?

Although evenly matched adversaries make for a more exciting athletic contest, and a level playing field is essential to a fair game, is the same true in a criminal trial? In this compelling new book, H. Richard Uviller argues that a criminal trial is not analogous to a sporting event. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are, in critical respects, different from each other, and the allocation of advantages to each must be uneven in order to be fair.

In a lively exploration of the powers of the prosecutor and the prerogatives of the defense, Uviller asks where our criminal justice system is fair though unequal and where its inequalities may subvert fair results. On the one hand, he points out, the prosecutor has unmatched and virtually unreviewable discretion to choose the target of a prosecution, the charge, and to a large extent the timing of an indictment. The prosecution also is first on the scene to develop evidence and is entitled to compel the production of evidence from reluctant custodians. The lawyer for the defendant, on the other hand, enjoys virtually unrestricted license to argue contrary to his or her own sincere belief, as well as broad powers to discover evidence from the prosecutor’s file. Are these unequal advantages necessary? Are they fair? Uviller concludes that although the overall criminal justice system reflects a fair distribution of advantages and disadvantages, in certain areas the imbalance is so severe as to undermine justice. He offers realistic, carefully considered recommendations for reform in these problem areas.

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About the Author:

H. Richard Uviller is Arthur Levitt Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law. During his 45-year career in law, he has served as an attorney, a prosecutor for fourteen years in the office of the legendary Frank S. Hogan, and a criminal justice teacher.

From Library Journal:

Uviller (law, Columbia; Virtual Justice, Yale Univ., 1996) ambitiously and studiously examines the criminal law concept of "fundamental fairness." He posits that such fairness may be achieved by tipping the scales in favor of a particular party during the course of a criminal trial. Accordingly, "fundamental fairness" does not necessarily mean that both parties should be treated alike. Uviller grounds his hypothesis in thorough examinations of trial procedure, including prosecutorial discretion, access to evidence, burdens and presumptions, appellate procedure, and jury constraints. His analysis, based on a 45-year career in law, is abstract and highly theoretical; it does not rest on case studies or detailed research. This approach allows Uviller the comfort of drawing academic distinctions far from the fray of daily practice. Not surprisingly, his conclusions are moderate, limited to some tinkering around the procedural edges of the judicial system. A heady, philosophical work most easily approached by legal scholars. Academic law libraries should consider it.?Steven Anderson, Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger & Hollander, Baltimore
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Although evenly matched adversaries make for a more exciting athletic contest, and a level playing field is essential to a fair game, is the same true in a criminal trial? In this compelling new book, H. Richard Uviller argues that a criminal trial is not analogous to a sporting event. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are, in critical respects, different from each other, and the allocation of advantages to each must be uneven in order to be fair. In a lively exploration of the powers of the prosecutor and the prerogatives of the defense, Uviller asks where our criminal justice system is fair though unequal and where its inequalities may subvert fair results. On the one hand, he points out, the prosecutor has unmatched and virtually unreviewable discretion to choose the target of a prosecution, the charge, and to a large extent the timing of an indictment. The prosecution also is first on the scene to develop evidence and is entitled to compel the production of evidence from reluctant custodians. The lawyer for the defendant, on the other hand, enjoys virtually unrestricted license to argue contrary to his or her own sincere belief, as well as broad powers to discover evidence from the prosecutor s file. Are these unequal advantages necessary? Are they fair? Uviller concludes that although the overall criminal justice system reflects a fair distribution of advantages and disadvantages, in certain areas the imbalance is so severe as to undermine justice. He offers realistic, carefully considered recommendations for reform in these problem areas. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780300075847

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Although evenly matched adversaries make for a more exciting athletic contest, and a level playing field is essential to a fair game, is the same true in a criminal trial? In this compelling new book, H. Richard Uviller argues that a criminal trial is not analogous to a sporting event. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are, in critical respects, different from each other, and the allocation of advantages to each must be uneven in order to be fair. In a lively exploration of the powers of the prosecutor and the prerogatives of the defense, Uviller asks where our criminal justice system is fair though unequal and where its inequalities may subvert fair results. On the one hand, he points out, the prosecutor has unmatched and virtually unreviewable discretion to choose the target of a prosecution, the charge, and to a large extent the timing of an indictment. The prosecution also is first on the scene to develop evidence and is entitled to compel the production of evidence from reluctant custodians. The lawyer for the defendant, on the other hand, enjoys virtually unrestricted license to argue contrary to his or her own sincere belief, as well as broad powers to discover evidence from the prosecutor s file. Are these unequal advantages necessary? Are they fair? Uviller concludes that although the overall criminal justice system reflects a fair distribution of advantages and disadvantages, in certain areas the imbalance is so severe as to undermine justice. He offers realistic, carefully considered recommendations for reform in these problem areas. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780300075847

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