cover image The Nonsense Factory: The Making and Breaking of the American Legal System

The Nonsense Factory: The Making and Breaking of the American Legal System

Bruce Cannon Gibley. Hachette, $28 (528p) ISBN 978-0-316-47526-6

Lawyer and venture capitalist Gibney (A Generation of Sociopaths) takes the measure of the American legal system and finds it wanting. He systematically eviscerates virtually every aspect of it, including Congress, which he contends operates with “the efficiency of a Bourbon court”; law schools that fail to prepare their students to become lawyers; the cost of legal representation that makes it far outside the reach of many Americans; a criminal justice system that has criminalized poverty and fueled massive incarceration; mandatory arbitration clauses that allow corporations to take advantage of consumers and hamstring class action lawsuits; and the legal system’s failure to adequately ensure the accountability of America’s police forces. The most threatening development of all, he argues, is the growth of a “unitary executive” branch, the consequence of Congress ceding too much of its responsibility, including declaring war and crafting budgets. Gibney concludes with the admonition that the “law is bad, but not that bad, yet” and offers a few potential curative courses: one is for Congress to reclaim its fundamental powers, and a second is for voters to exercise their franchise and vote for politicians who understand their responsibility to govern. Gibney is sometimes glib but often funny, and his criticisms are serious, well-argued, and provocative. [em]Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (May) [/em]