Wednesday, June 22, 2011


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The book Contrary to Popular Opinion, by Alan M. Dershowitz, is a book about law. According to him. All about his views on certain landmark cases, and Supreme Court decisions. When I first saw the book it intrigued me because I had heard about, and seen Mr. Dershowitz on TV. When he was in the media because he was a lawyer for OJ Simpson in the case Simpson v. California. This was one of the most famous court cases of the 10‘s. my parents watch it, and if there was a noise they would go crazy. After flipping through the book before reading it I found out that it was written in 11, before the OJ Simpson case had even started. It did help in finding out that Mr. Dershowitz is a very respected teacher at Harvard. He is also frequently interviewed and questioned on his opinion of rulings, and decisions in judicial cases. Before reading this book there are some very important things you need to know about Alan Dershowitz one of these things is that he is an American-Jew. He has also had some mutual relationships with Supreme Court judges. He also isn’t afraid to take cases nobody else would, he even defended Mike Tyson.

The book is divided into 5 parts. The first part is about judges, justices, juries and the courts. He discusses todays judges, and how they aren’t very good. In his opinion the judges of America are very under qualified. Today’s judges are not impartial enough in his eyes. Even the chief justice, the highest rank in the American Judicial system, is not impartial. A female lawyer was making her case to the Supreme Court, and accidentally called chief justice Rehnquist a normal judge. He did not let this remark go, he proceeded to intimidate her with his position and said to her “I’m the chief justice. I’m not a judge.” She had to apologize because she knew the decision might depend on a single vote. After this the very nervous lawyer never really recovered, or as the press put it there was a chill in the air. He even goes as far as to suggest we change they way we select our nation’s judges. After seeing his arguments it does make some sense. After seeing how there is so much corruption in the judicial system. He suggested a system that is used in some other countries of the world. Their system is based on merit, they have their peers of judges and lawyers decide who is the most qualified judge. Then the most qualified judge would go to the supreme court, not any judge that the President picks and is approved by congress.

The second part discusses freedom of expression and the rise of intolerance. The majority of it is about how everyone supports freedom of speech in theory. In the book Mr. Dershowitz discusses how every different person has a different opinion on censorship. His opinion on the topic is that all censorship should be stopped, that the First Amendment of freedom of speech really does give us freedom of speech. He gives us an example that was related to him. While at Harvard a woman professor was offended that the Harvard library kept Playboy magazine in it. She suggested the college stop wasting its money on something that offends someone. Then Mr. Dershowitz wrote to the school and suggested that all people involved in Harvard should pick one piece of writing in the library that is offensive to them. Eventually they would have a very little group of books, and they could store them in a drawer. After this he suggested they could get some squash courts to play on, unless that offended someone. Maybe the strongest piece of evidence that makes the point that Mr. Dershowitz is a strong supporter of freedom of speech then look at the court case in which Mr. Dershowitz defended a neo-Nazi who had given a speech about Hitler. One would ask the question why would a Jew defend a Nazi? That’s just how strongly Mr. Dershowitz believes in the first Amendment.

The third section of his book is entitled The state, The Law and The Rights of Individuals. It discusses the issue of how far law can go, and what it can and can’t do. It also talks about how the men and women who are supposed to be enforcing the law sometimes break it. It talks of a story in which NBC and an ex-policemen set up a trap for a Californian cop, after complaints about discriminating against blacks. He talks about the Rodney King case in Los Angeles. An African-American man was pulled over and what transpired was a beating. The cops did were not aware they were being taped, and were acquitted in court even with the tape. Much of this chapter is about how there are many mistakes in the judicial system. Another large chunk of this section has to do with a man by the name of Manuel Noriega. He was a former President of Panama

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