Catalogue


A theory of the trial [electronic resource] /
Robert P. Burns.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1999.
description
247 p.
ISBN
0691007276 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1999.
isbn
0691007276 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8847910
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Robert P. Burns is Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law, where he teaches evidence, legal ethics, and procedure.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"This book is at once a treatise on legal procedure, on the philosophy of the social sciences, on political theory, and on the trial as linguistic and cultural artifact. I know of no other book that does what this one does, and I enthusiastically recommend it to readers in the field of law and in the humanities."-- David Luban, Georgetown University "Robert Burnss core argument is elegantly simple: the trial is a performance. In exploring the hybrid discourse of the trial, he leads the reader on an engaging journey into this singular type of public performance.... Burns has written a wonderful book."-- Milner S. Ball, Georgia Law School
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-02:
Judges or juries are usually described as establishing the facts of some controversy and applying legal rules without making value judgments. Burns, an experienced litigator and professor of law, argues that this view is too narrow. Lawyers, he contends, structure facts within a framework of narrative consciously designed to appeal to values and prejudices. Narratives shape and account for evidence. Trial rules encourage this storytelling, and the stories jurors hear bring them in contact with moral sources--and prejudices--"beyond the limits of law." Jurors accept or reject stories by drawing on commonsense notions of completeness and coherence, then choose between the narratives presented by the lawyers or construct their own. Other scholars have made such arguments. Burns makes an original contribution by drawing on his own experience to show lawyers drafting opening statements and otherwise shaping and dramatizing their courtroom performances. The first half of the book provides a good introduction to the "narrative school" of trial theorists. However, the second half develops a model of verdict construction according to which jurors make decisions on no fewer than eight levels. This model is too complex for all but upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. P. Lermack; Bradley University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Burns makes an original contribution by drawing on his own experience to show lawyers drafting opening statements and otherwise shaping and dramatizing their courtroom performances."-- Choice
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 2000
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Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Anyone who has sat on a jury or followed a high-profile trial on television usually comes to the realization that a trial, particularly a criminal trial, is really a performance. Verdicts seem determined as much by which lawyer can best connect with the hearts and minds of the jurors as by what the evidence might suggest. In this celebration of the American trial as a great cultural achievement, Robert Burns, a trial lawyer and a trained philosopher, explores how these legal proceedings bring about justice. The trial, he reminds us, is not confined to the impartial application of legal rules to factual findings. Burns depicts the trial as an institution employing its own language and styles of performance that elevate the understanding of decision-makers, bringing them in contact with moral sources beyond the limits of law.Burns explores the rich narrative structure of the trial, beginning with the lawyers' opening statements, which establish opposing moral frameworks in which to interpret the evidence. In the succession of witnesses, stories compete and are held in tension. At some point during the performance, a sense of the righ
Main Description
Anyone who has sat on a jury or followed a high-profile trial on television usually comes to the realization that a trial, particularly a criminal trial, is really a performance. Verdicts seem determined as much by which lawyer can best connect with the hearts and minds of the jurors as by what the evidence might suggest. In this celebration of the American trial as a great cultural achievement, Robert Burns, a trial lawyer and a trained philosopher, explores how these legal proceedings bring about justice. The trial, he reminds us, is not confined to the impartial application of legal rules to factual findings. Burns depicts the trial as an institution employing its own language and styles of performance that elevate the understanding of decision-makers, bringing them in contact with moral sources beyond the limits of law. Burns explores the rich narrative structure of the trial, beginning with the lawyers' opening statements, which establish opposing moral frameworks in which to interpret the evidence. In the succession of witnesses, stories compete and are held in tension. At some point during the performance, a sense of the right thing to do arises among the jurors. How this happens is at the core of Burns's investigation, which draws on careful descriptions of what trial lawyers do, the rules governing their actions, interpretations of actual trial material, social science findings, and a broad philosophical and political appreciation of the trial as a unique vehicle of American self-government.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Exploring how American criminal trials bring about justice, this text depicts the trial as an institution employing its own language and styles of performance that elevate the understanding of decision-makers.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 3
The Received View of the Trialp. 10
The Trial's Linguistic Practicesp. 34
The Trial's Constitutive Rulesp. 73
An Interpretation from One Trialp. 103
The Trial's Most Basic Features and Some Observed Consequencesp. 124
Thinking What We Dop. 155
The Two Sides of the Trial Eventp. 183
The Truth of Verdictsp. 220
Indexp. 245
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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