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The Pig Farmer's Daughter and Other Tales of American Justice

Berry, Mary Frances

31 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679436111 / ISBN 13: 9780679436119
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1999
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From Gumshoe Books (Columbia, SC, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

a handsome copy. much on sex and the courts. Size: 8mo. Bookseller Inventory # 013805

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Pig Farmer's Daughter and Other Tales of...

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Back

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author on Half-Title Page

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


From the head of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and noted professor of law and history at the University of Pennsylvania, a groundbreaking book that examines both civil and criminal court cases from the Civil War to the present, to reveal the impact of stereotyping--race, class, gender--on the American legal system.

The question Mary Frances Berry asks: Whose story most strongly influences the making of legal decisions in the American justice system? Using previously unexamined material from state appellate civil and criminal court cases--cases of rape, seduction, and paternity disputes, and cases dealing with murder, inheritance, and property disputes in which sexual relations are at the heart of the story--Berry takes us through two centuries of American case law to show how attitudes toward gender, race, class, and sexuality have materially affected, and continue to affect, judicial decision-making.

Among the many cases Berry discusses:

Alabama, 1867--A white woman sues her husband for divorce in both the lower and state supreme courts because of his sexual relationship with a former slave, and is denied her petition on the basis that a sexual relationship between a white man and a black woman is "of no consequence."

New York, 1932--In a surprising victory, the longtime mistress of a theater owner successfully contests her lover's will and proves her right to inherit a wife's portion of the estate.

Texas, 1984--A suit by a woman against her female lover ends in a decision that allows the court to avoid acknowledging the existence of a lesbian relationship.

And, in the 1990s, we see the cases of William Kennedy Smith, Mike Tyson, and O. J. Simpson in a new context.

Moving stories, shocking stories, ironic stories, tragic stories--a book that fascinates in terms of its human drama, by its demonstration of the ways in which prejudice affects justice, and by its account of how the law has evolved (or hasn't) as our racial, social, and sexual attitudes have changed.

From the Back Cover:

From the head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights comes a landmark study of the ways in which prejudice has shaped American justice from the Civil War era to the present. With an ear tuned to the social subtext of every judicial decision, Mary Frances Berry examines the stories told in more than a century's worth of state appellate court cases -- stories of seduction, rape, and murder, of contested paternity, property, and inheritance -- all of them dealing with racial and sexual relations. Together these stories form a vivid account of how the law has evolved -- or failed to evolve -- as society's attitudes have changed.

Ranging from a nineteenth-century Alabama case, in which a white woman was denied her divorce petition because an affair between a white man (her husband) and a black woman (his lover) was "of no consequence", to such recent, high-profile cases as the William Kennedy Smith and O.J. Simpson trials, the shocking, moving, ironic, and tragic stories in The Pig Farmer's Daughter each end in the laying down of law. And because the law perpetuates myths of race, gender, and class, they are stories that affect the lives of us all.

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