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Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom Paperback – Oct 1 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: New York Univ Pr (Oct. 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814751164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814751169
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"Lee offers an extended argument for reforming the provocation doctrine by requiring judges and jurors to reflect more carefully about the reasonableness of the defendant's behavior." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION"

About the Author

CYNTHIA K. LEE is Professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lee's thesis that the "reasonable man" standard is biased against women, GLBT persons, and members of racial and ethnic minorities is provocative and well supported with history and case law. Her suggestions for race-switching jury instructions raise questions about the reader's own biases and assumptions.
The problem comes in Lee's understanding of use-of-force issues especially issues relating to reaction times (which can result in shots to the side or back), stress hormones and memory (which can result in fragmented memory), stress hormones and fine muscle control (which makes it hard to practically shoot to wound), and the ability of handgun fire to penetrate standard building materials (which makes warning shots dangerous). Lee's book should be read in combination with practical self-defense and use-of-force articles by respected writers like Masaad Ayoob and Phil Messina.
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Format: Hardcover
This well-crafted book is the thinking person's guide to understanding the "reasonable man" defense. Cynthia Lee has written a meticulously researched book both important for its insight into the spirit of the law, as it is applies to the reasonable man defense, as for her storytelling in providing us a glimpse of the people behind the legal cases she presents.
The author builds an excellent case for revising the narrow social norms used by our legal system today when applying the reasonable man defense to less visible segments of our society: minorities, such as heterosexual women, gays and lesbians, and persons of color. She goes beyond pointing out what needs to be changed within our legal system by offering her own recommended solutions for leveling the playing field.
Highly recommended for non-legal types who have a passion for equal rights under the law.
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Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book for law students interested in criminal law, either prosecution or defense side, and for students of the social sciences. Lee discusses how criminal defendants use provocation and self-defense arguments in the courtroom and how the defendants who rely on stereotypes regarding gender, race, and sexual orientation are often found to be reasonable in their violent acts. The book contains in-depth discussions of cases that illustrate Lee's thesis, making it easy to read for readers, including myself, who are not lawyers.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely significant and thoughtful legal work challenging our notions of what should constitute "provocation" or "self-defense" in murder cases. Professor Lee illustrates how the defenses of "provocation" and "self-defense" have been successfully used to justify homocides motivated by racism, homophobia, and gender bias. Any criminal law judge or prosecutor who fails to read this book will be at a disadvantage in the courtroom. Every law student and every civil rights organization should read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Many good points don't always make a good argument. July 9 2007
By Mike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if Lee understands the legal standards involving "reasonableness" and the use of force. She continual refers to "reasonable belief of death or great bodily injury" as if it is so amorphous that it cannot and in cases where racial stereotypes are involved is not reasonably applied. There are a number of factors that a jury is instructed to use when evaluating a use of deadly force incident that are 100% objective in determining the legality or illegality of it. Factors such as age differences between the two parties, prior knowledge of violent behavior on behalf of the assailant, physical size differences, if the defender was outnumbered, are both parties armed (and it doesn't have to be with a conventional weapon), are some of the considerations used to determine if there was a "reasonable belief of death or great bodily injury". Its not as fuzzy or gray as Lee is arguing as most states have these requirements on use of force either in the criminal law code or in some common law precedent; its almost as if this book is 40 years out of date.

If anything, this book makes a good case for the restriction of non-defined or "novel" affirmative defenses like "gay rage" and the Twinkie defense.

I was also bothered by Lee's interpretation of the Goetz case. She seems to believe that Goetz's defense, while not specifically bringing in the race question, was none the less guilt of racial stereotyping by describing the assailants as "vultures" and "animals". And although Lee castigates Goetz's defense for this (arguably accurate) depiction, she continually refers to the assailants as the "boys"; an equally loaded word itself designed to invoke sympathy in the reader. She fails to mention that these "boys" were all 18 and 19 years old. Two of the "boys" continued on their pattern of predation a short time later. James Ramseur was convicted of raping, beating and robbing a pregnant 19 year old woman in the Bronx, while the other "boy", Barry Allen, was convicted of two felony counts of armed robbery shortly after he was released from the hospital.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Recommend for law students and students of social sciences Nov. 2 2003
By Student - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book for law students interested in criminal law, either prosecution or defense side, and for students of the social sciences. Lee discusses how criminal defendants use provocation and self-defense arguments in the courtroom and how the defendants who rely on stereotypes regarding gender, race, and sexual orientation are often found to be reasonable in their violent acts. The book contains in-depth discussions of cases that illustrate Lee's thesis, making it easy to read for readers, including myself, who are not lawyers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Important and Insightful Book Aug. 11 2003
By Dee McCrorey, Author, Innovation in a Reinvented World - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This well-crafted book is the thinking person's guide to understanding the "reasonable man" defense. Cynthia Lee has written a meticulously researched book both important for its insight into the spirit of the law, as it is applies to the reasonable man defense, as for her storytelling in providing us a glimpse of the people behind the legal cases she presents.
The author builds an excellent case for revising the narrow social norms used by our legal system today when applying the reasonable man defense to less visible segments of our society: minorities, such as heterosexual women, gays and lesbians, and persons of color. She goes beyond pointing out what needs to be changed within our legal system by offering her own recommended solutions for leveling the playing field.
Highly recommended for non-legal types who have a passion for equal rights under the law.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A must read for Judges, DA's & Criminal Defense Lawyers July 1 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely significant and thoughtful legal work challenging our notions of what should constitute "provocation" or "self-defense" in murder cases. Professor Lee illustrates how the defenses of "provocation" and "self-defense" have been successfully used to justify homocides motivated by racism, homophobia, and gender bias. Any criminal law judge or prosecutor who fails to read this book will be at a disadvantage in the courtroom. Every law student and every civil rights organization should read it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Provocative Points, but Lacks Practical Understanding Oct. 29 2003
By Lisa J. Steele - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Lee's thesis that the "reasonable man" standard is biased against women, GLBT persons, and members of racial and ethnic minorities is provocative and well supported with history and case law. Her suggestions for race-switching jury instructions raise questions about the reader's own biases and assumptions.
The problem comes in Lee's understanding of use-of-force issues especially issues relating to reaction times (which can result in shots to the side or back), stress hormones and memory (which can result in fragmented memory), stress hormones and fine muscle control (which makes it hard to practically shoot to wound), and the ability of handgun fire to penetrate standard building materials (which makes warning shots dangerous). Lee's book should be read in combination with practical self-defense and use-of-force articles by respected writers like Masaad Ayoob and Phil Messina.


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