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The Abuse Excuse: And Other Cop-outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility [Paperback]

Alan M. Dershowitz
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard Law professor and high-profile lawyer Dershowitz's collection of essays concerns the trend of criminal defendants claiming to be victims as a way of avoiding responsibility for their actions.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

What do "abused child," "black rage," "posttraumatic stress," and "Super Bowl Sunday" have in common? They are all reasons given by Americans seeking to avoid responsibility for alleged violent crimes. They are also the subject matter of an interesting series of essays by Dershowitz, professor at Harvard Law School and one of the most prominent of today's commentators on criminal law. The essays are brief (most only a few pages long), and each describes an actual case in which the excuse was raised as a defense. Dershowitz poses a truly interesting question: why do Americans remain sympathetic to the excuses offered by criminal defendants while at the same time demanding tougher criminal laws and punishment? He believes that we are genuinely concerned with victims and that this concern remains apparent even if the victim is also a criminal offender. For popular law collections.
Jerry E. Stephens, U.S. Court of Appeals Lib., Oklahoma City
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Dershowitz, the ubiquitous Harvard attorney, comes out swinging against what he terms the abuse excuse, a legal tactic by which defendants claim a history of abuse as an excuse for violent retaliation. The strategy has been used with varying degrees of success by Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding, and the Menendez brothers. In his introduction, Dershowitz lays out his thesis that the abuse excuse not only affects the legal system, but also is a symptom of society's willingness to abdicate responsibility. The abdicators, he contends, aren't just individuals but also include ethnic groups and even nations. Dershowitz makes a powerful case, listing over 40 "syndromes" that have been used as excuses for crime, including adopted child syndrome, black rage syndrome (used by the killer on the Long Island Railroad), Holocaust survivor syndrome, Super Bowl Sunday syndrome, and UFO survivor syndrome. Dershowitz argues that the more we accept such defenses (and one reason juries do is because they are often politically correct), the more we open the doors to vigilante justice and anarchy. He goes on to discuss in brief essays various well-publicized recent cases, though in some, such as the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow case, he has to stretch to make his point. These short pieces are more like appetizers than main courses, and some seemed designed to fill space rather than illuminate. Still, this is sure to be a talked-about and requested book, especially if O. J. Simpson decides to claim some sort of diminished capability in a plea bargain. What would Dershowitz, a member of Simpson's defense team, say then? Ilene Cooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Alan M. Dershowitz is a professor at Harvard Law School and a noted appellate lawyer and columnist. He has represented such clients as Claus von Bülow, O. J. Simpson, Anatoly Shcharansky, Michael Milken, Mia Farrow, and Mike Tyson. He lectures widely on legal and religious issues, appears frequently on television and radio, and is the author of the number one bestseller Chutzpah, as well as Supreme Injustice, Reversal of Fortune, The Abuse Excuse, Just Revenge, The Genesis of Justice, The Advocate's Devil, and Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O. J. Simpson Case.
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