Ancient Law, Ancient Society
Dennis P. Kehoe and Thomas A. J. McGinn, editors University of Michigan Press, 2017 Library of Congress KL4121.A45 2017 | Dewey Decimal 340.538
The essays composing Ancient Law, Ancient Society examine the law in classical antiquity both as a product of the society in which it developed and as one of the most important forces shaping that society. Contributors to this volume consider the law via innovative methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives—in particular, those drawn from the new institutional economics and the intersection of law and economics.
Essays cover topics such as using collective sanctions to enforce legal norms; the Greek elite’s marriage strategies for amassing financial resources essential for a public career; defenses against murder charges under Athenian criminal law, particularly in cases where the victim put his own life in peril; the interplay between Roman law and provincial institutions in regulating water rights; the Severan-age Greek author Aelian’s notions of justice and their influence on late-classical Roman jurisprudence; Roman jurists’ approach to the contract of mandate in balancing the changing needs of society against respect for upper-class concepts of duty and reciprocity; whether the Roman legal authorities developed the law exclusively to serve the Roman elite’s interests or to meet the needs of the Roman Empire’s broader population as well; and an analysis of the Senatus Consultum Claudianum in the Code of Justinian demonstrating how the late Roman government adapted classical law to address marriage between free women and men classified as coloni bound to their land.
In addition to volume editors Dennis P. Kehoe and Thomas A. J. McGinn, contributors include Adriaan Lanni, Michael Leese, David Phillips, Cynthia Bannon, Lauren Caldwell, Charles Pazdernik, and Clifford Ando.
When used in conjunction with corporations, the term “public” is misleading. Anyone can purchase shares of stock, but public corporations themselves are uninhibited by a sense of societal obligation or strict public oversight. In fact, managers of most large firms are prohibited by law from taking into account the interests of the public in decision making, if doing so hurts shareholders. But this has not always been the case, as until the beginning of the twentieth century, public corporations were deemed to have important civic responsibilities.
With The Failure of Corporate Law, Kent Greenfield hopes to return corporate law to a system in which the public has a greater say in how firms are governed. Greenfield maintains that the laws controlling firms should be much more protective of the public interest and of the corporation’s various stakeholders, such as employees. Only when the law of corporations is evaluated as a branch of public law—as with constitutional law or environmental law—will it be clear what types of changes can be made in corporate governance to improve the common good. Greenfield proposes changes in corporate governance that would enable corporations to meet the progressive goal of creating wealth for society as a whole rather than merely for shareholders and executives.
Some describe civil litigation as little more than a drag on the economy; Others hail it as the solution to most of the country’s problems. Stephen C. Yeazell argues that both positions are wrong. Deeply embedded in our political and economic systems, civil litigation is both a system for resolving disputes and a successful business model, a fact that both its opponents and its fans do their best to conceal.
Lawsuits in a Market Economy explains how contemporary civil litigation in the United States works and how it has changed over the past century. The book corrects common misconceptions—some of which have proved remarkably durable even in the face of contrary evidence—and explores how our constitutional structure, an evolving economy, and developments in procedural rules and litigation financing systems have moved us from expecting that lawsuits end in trial and judgments to expecting that they will end in settlements. Yeazell argues that today’s system has in some ways overcome—albeit inconsistently—disparities between the rich and poor in access to civil justice. Once upon a time, might regularly triumphed over right. That is slightly less likely today—even though we continue to witness enormous disparities in wealth and power.
The book concludes with an evaluation of recent changes and their possible consequences.
The traditional definition of torts involves bizarre, idiosyncratic events where a single plaintiff with a physical impairment sues the specific defendant he believes to have wrongfully caused that malady. Yet public attention has focused increasingly on mass personal-injury lawsuits over asbestos, cigarettes, guns, the diet drug fen-phen, breast implants, and, most recently, Vioxx. Richard A. Nagareda’s Mass Torts in a World of Settlement is the first attempt to analyze the lawyer’s role in this world of high-stakes, multibillion-dollar litigation.
These mass settlements, Nagareda argues, have transformed the legal system so acutely that rival teams of lawyers operate as sophisticated governing powers rather than litigators. His controversial solution is the replacement of the existing tort system with a private administrative framework to address both current and future claims. This book is a must-read for concerned citizens, policymakers, lawyers, investors, and executives grappling with the changing face of mass torts.
Why do Americans seem to sue at the slightest provocation? The answer may surprise you: we don’t! For every “Whiplash Charlie” who sees a car accident as a chance to make millions, for every McDonald’s customer to pursue a claim over a too-hot cup of coffee, many more Americans suffer injuries but make no claims against those responsible or their insurance companies. The question is not why Americans sue but why we don’t sue more often, and the answer can be found in how we think about injury and personal responsibility.
With this book, David M. Engel demolishes the myth that America is a litigious society. The sobering reality is that the vast majority of injury victims—more than nine out of ten—rely on their own resources, family and friends, and government programs to cover their losses. When real people experience serious injuries, they don’t respond as rational actors. Trauma and pain disrupt their thoughts, and potential claims are discouraged by negative stereotypes that pervade American television and popular culture. (Think Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, who keeps a box of neck braces in his office to help clients exaggerate their injuries.) Cultural norms make preventable injuries appear inevitable—or the victim’s fault. We’re taught to accept setbacks stoically and not blame someone else. But this tendency to “lump it” doesn’t just hurt the victims; it hurts us all. As politicians continue to push reforms that miss the real problem, we risk losing these claims as a way to quickly identify unsafe products and practices. Because injuries disproportionately fall on people with fewer resources, the existing framework creates a social underclass whose needs must be met by government programs all citizens shoulder while shielding those who cause the harm.
It’s time for America to have a more responsible, blame-free discussion about injuries and the law. With The Myth of the Litigious Society, Engel takes readers clearly and powerfully through what we really know about injury victims and concludes with recommendations for how we might improve the situation.
Restitution is the body of law concerned with taking away gains that someone has wrongfully obtained. The operator of a Ponzi scheme takes money from his victims by fraud and then invests it in stocks that rise in value. Or a company pays a shareholder excessive dividends or pays them to the wrong person. Or a man poisons his grandfather and then collects under the grandfather’s will. In each of these cases, one party is unjustly enriched at the expense of another. And in all of them the law of restitution provides a way to undo the enrichment and transfer the defendant’s gains to a party with better rights to them. Tort law focuses on the harm, or costs, that one party wrongfully imposes on another. Restitution is the mirror image; it corrects gains that one party wrongfully receives at another’s expense. It is an important topic for every lawyer and for anyone else interested in how the legal system responds to injustice.
In Restitution, Ward Farnsworth presents a guide to this body of law that is compact, lively, and insightful—the first treatment of its kind that the American law of restitution has received. The book explains restitution doctrines, remedies, and defenses with unprecedented clarity and illustrates them with vivid examples. Farnsworth demonstrates that the law of restitution is guided by a manageable and coherent set of principles that have remarkable versatility and power. Restitution makes a complex and important area of law accessible, understandable, and interesting to any reader.
This report synthesizes the available scientific evidence on the effects of various firearm policies on firearm deaths, violent crime, the gun industry, participation in hunting and sport shooting, and other outcomes. Based on this synthesis, the authors highlight policies whose effects are better supported by evidence and areas where more and better information could contribute to establishing fair and effective gun policies.
A leader of a global superpower is betrayed by his mistress, who makes public the sordid details of their secret affair. His wife stands by as he denies the charges. Debates over definitions of moral leadership ensue. Sound familiar? If you guessed Clinton and Lewinsky, try again. This incident involved former Japanese prime minister Sosuke Uno and a geisha.
In Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle, Mark D. West organizes the seemingly random worlds of Japanese and American scandal—from corporate fraud to baseball cheaters, political corruption to celebrity sexcapades—to explore well-ingrained similarities and contrasts in law and society. In Japan and the United States, legal and organizational rules tell us what kind of behavior is considered scandalous. When Japanese and American scandal stories differ, those rules—rules that define what’s public and what’s private, rules that protect injuries to dignity and honor, and rules about sex, to name a few—often help explain the differences. In the cases of Clinton and Uno, the rules help explain why the media didn’t cover Uno’s affair, why Uno’s wife apologized on her husband’s behalf, and why Uno—and not Clinton—resigned.
Secrets, Sex, and Spectacle offers a novel approach to viewing the phenomenon of scandal—one that will be applauded by anyone who has obsessed over (or ridiculed) these public episodes.
The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is the United States’s regulatory overseer. In Valuing Life, Cass R. Sunstein draws on his firsthand experience as the Administrator of OIRA from 2009 to 2012 to argue that we can humanize regulation—and save lives in the process.
As OIRA Administrator, Sunstein helped oversee regulation in a broad variety of areas, including highway safety, health care, homeland security, immigration, energy, environmental protection, and education. This background allows him to describe OIRA and how it works—and how it can work better—from an on-the-ground perspective. Using real-world examples, many of them drawn from today’s headlines, Sunstein makes a compelling case for improving cost-benefit analysis, a longtime cornerstone of regulatory decision-making, and for taking account of variables that are hard to quantify, such as dignity and personal privacy. He also shows how regulatory decisions about health, safety, and life itself can benefit from taking into account behavioral and psychological research, including new findings about what scares us, and what does not. By better accounting for people’s fallibility, Sunstein argues, we can create regulation that is simultaneously more human and more likely to achieve its goals.
In this highly readable synthesis of insights from law, policy, economics, and psychology, Sunstein breaks down the intricacies of the regulatory system and offers a new way of thinking about regulation that incorporates human dignity– and an insistent focus on the consequences of our choices.