Doing Justice: A Trial Judge at Work

Doing Justice: A Trial Judge at Work 
By Robert Satter
2005/02 - Beard Books 
1587982455 - Paperback - Reprint -  256 pp.

Thirty years of wisdom and experience are behind this commendable discussion of what a judge actually does, as told by a currently active judge.

Publisher Comments

Category: Litigation

This title is part of the Lawyering list.

Of Interest:

John Jay Colonial Lawyer

The Last Liberal: Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and the Decisions That Transformed America

Julius Caesar in a moment of wisdom said, " Who will guard the guards?" In this particular case, who will judge the judges? You can do just that by reading this exemplary book, which seats the reader beside a trial judge to observe the human dramas unfolding in the courtroom and challenges him to reflect on how he would decide.

Revealed are the difficult dilemmas a judge must resolve every day: whom to believe when litigants provide contradictory testimony; what sentence to impose when the jury convicts the accused; how to interpret ambiguous statutes or conflicting precedents to arrive at a just decision. An antidote to courtroom fiction on TV, this down-to-earth book shows how the law actually works in real life. In this reprint edition, the author, a judge currently on the bench, shares his observations and, in an opening note, identifies the qualities that make a good judge.

From the Washington Post Book World:

Clear prose, ample opportunities for the reader to play judge.

From The Atlantic:

Describes what a judge actually does...[I]t serves the purpose of lucid instruction well.

From The Hartford Courant:

A major contribution to the world of judicial literature.

From Publishers Weekly:

In 15 years on the bench, Satter, judge of the Connecticut Superior Court, has heard cases involving murder, rape, custody, child abuse, medical malpractice, divorce, juvenile crime, robbery, housing and inheritance disputes, and even a plane crash. Although stiffly written, this unusual report offers a rare personal glimpse of the judicial decision-making process. For Satter, the art of judging consists of finding valid ways to implement the stirrings of his heart. He stresses that he often goes by intuition, and that he is sensitive to the connection between urban poverty and crime. A parade of stumbling or theatrical lawyers, dubious or solid witnesses marches through this brief, which includes sensible proposals for remedying defects in the way jury trials are conducted.

Robert Satter served as a judge on the Connecticut Superior Court for more than thirty years and taught at the University of Connecticut law school. Before appointment to the bench, he was a prominent Hartford lawyer, a member of the state House of Representatives, and general counsel to the Democratic party legislators. He received his B.A. from Rutgers University and his LL.B. from Columbia University. Judge Satter passed away on on January 16, 2012, at the age of 92.

Introduction 11
1. Opening Court 17
2. Here Comes the Judge 26
3. Whom to Believe? 39
4. Heart v. Mind 51
5. How I Decide a Court Case 63
6. Civil Trial by Jury 80
7. Bargaining over Pain and Disability 99
8. More on Civil Jury Trial 112
9. Does the Civil Jury System Work? 126
10. Criminal Cases 140
11. Murder Trial 153
12. Dilemmas of Sentencing 170
13. Where Has Love Gone? 186
14. Prisoners of Their Future 202
15. The Face of Poverty 215
16. On Being Reversed and Sitting on the Supreme Court 227
17. Summing Up 240
Index 247

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