Elders on Trial: Age and Ageism in the American Legal System

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9780813027654: Elders on Trial: Age and Ageism in the American Legal System
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For baby boomers, senior citizens, gerontologists, and students of aging and the justice system, Howard Eglit's trenchant discussion of the intersection of aging Americans with the U.S. legal system illuminates the consequences of a pervasive bias in contemporary society.            America's ballooning older population is well documented. Couple this demographic tidal wave with the legal system, Eglit says, and the inescapable conclusion follows that the matrix of laws, regulations, judicial rulings, and governmental policy issues will affect more and more older people. Were age an innocuous factor in society, this proposition would merit little note. But, he says, "The fact is that age matters. And often negatively so."It matters in the ways that young jurors assess the credibility of older litigants and witnesses. It matters for fashioning the attitudes that older jurors bring into the jury room. It matters for attorneys who deal with older clients and for judges, lawyers, and jurors who must respond to older lawyers. Embedded in American culture, age bias generally works to the detriment of older men and women, and this is dramatically true for individuals caught up in the legal system.Elders on Trial examines the role that age plays in the legal process; more than that, it offers solutions and guides for mitigating the myriad negative aspects of that role. With its concern for human interactions and responses, rather than matters of infrastructure or formal legislative enterprise, the book offers a timely consideration of an urgent challenge faced by American society.             

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"This important first comprehensive review and analysis of age bias in American society, especially as it relates to our legal system, is a long overdue and most welcome contribution. Professor Eglit advances our understanding of how we, our roles, and our rights change, and how we are perceived by ourselves and others as altering, as our years extend. Let us hope others now join the dialogue."--Edward C. King, executive director, National Senior Citizens Law Center For baby boomers, senior citizens, gerontologists, and students of aging and the justice system, Howard Eglit's trenchant discussion of the intersection of aging Americans with the U.S. legal system illuminates the consequences of a pervasive bias in contemporary society.            America's ballooning older population is well documented. Couple this demographic tidal wave with the legal system, Eglit says, and the inescapable conclusion follows that the matrix of laws, regulations, judicial rulings, and governmental policy issues will affect more and more older people. Were age an innocuous factor in society, this proposition would merit little note. But, he says, "The fact is that age matters. And often negatively so."It matters in the ways that young jurors assess the credibility of older litigants and witnesses. It matters for fashioning the attitudes that older jurors bring into the jury room. It matters for attorneys who deal with older clients and for judges, lawyers, and jurors who must respond to older lawyers. Embedded in American culture, age bias generally works to the detriment of older men and women, and this is dramatically true for individuals caught up in the legal system.Elders on Trial examines the role that age plays in the legal process; more than that, it offers solutions and guides for mitigating the myriad negative aspects of that role. With its concern for human interactions and responses, rather than matters of infrastructure or formal legislative enterprise, the book offers a timely consideration of an urgent challenge faced by American society.             

About the Author:

Howard Eglit, professor of law at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law, is the author of Age Discrimination, volumes 1-3. He has served as chair of the American Association of Law Schools' Section on Aging and on the board of numerous organizations concerned with aging issues, including the Illinois Division of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Board of Advisors of the Buehler Center on Aging at McGaw Medical Center, Northwestern University.

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