cover image The Price of Justice: Money, Morals and Ethics Reform in the Law

The Price of Justice: Money, Morals and Ethics Reform in the Law

Ronald Goldfarb. Turner, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-68442-502-0

Attorney and literary agent Goldfarb (editor, After Snowden) delivers a lacerating critique of inequities in America’s criminal and civil justice systems and the role of lawyers in perpetuating them. He laments the lack of serious repercussions for district attorneys who withhold evidence and manipulate witnesses, and explores how wealth and the imbalance of resources between public defenders and prosecutors can distort the outcomes of criminal cases. In civil matters, representation for poor litigants is often not available, Goldfarb argues, and when it is, underfunded legal services programs are at a distinct disadvantage to their corporate adversaries. According to the rules of America’s “adversary system,” lawyers can do almost anything under the rubric of “zealously represent[ing]” their clients, Goldfarb writes, and the lack of a moral component means that the system ultimately functions to ensure the preservation of the economic and social status quo. Goldfarb uses anecdotes from his own career to demonstrate how lawyers can infuse morality into their practices, and prescribes remedies such as extending the right to counsel to civil cases and lowering the costs of a legal education by cutting the curriculum from four to two years. Most of Goldfarb’s critiques and solutions are familiar, but he presents them with firm conviction and hard evidence. Legal professionals will want to take note. (Oct.)