Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

September 11: Comparative Legal Systems

Note: There will be no Beyond Labels meeting on September 4. The library is closed for Labor Day.

Continuing our U.S. justice system “thread,” we’ll discuss how the U.S. system compares to those of other countries.

It was observed last week that our system is structured as an adversarial one, in which the prosecution/complainant’s attorney competes with that of the defendant to convince a jury (or judge) that their position should prevail. And that competition isn’t always particularly “fair,” in the sense that there is often a financial behemoth (the government in criminal cases; large corporations in civil ones) on one side and a party with substantially less resources on the other. We’ll explore whether there might be a better way to deliver more consistent justice, taking guidance from other systems around the world.

To get us started, here is a suggestion from one of our attendees:

Here’s a good introduction to the different legal systems in the world. I particularly liked the maps and the chart. I think this would be helpful for folks to read before our next Beyond Labels meeting. I will do more reading beyond this. Fascinating stuff. When I graduated from law school, I had 3 choices: accept a two-year Fellowship at Columbia U. Law School in Comparative Law, which would give me an SDJ (most advanced law degree), accept a scholarship at Tulane U. Law School (Louisiana) to earn an SJD in Marine and Ocean law; or practice public interest law and run some Ralph Nader groups. It was a difficult choice but I chose Nader. But my interest in comparative law lingers, ditto Ocean law (hence my earlier suggestion for Beyond Labels to look at Arctic issues that I’ve always followed).

Here’s the link:

1 Comment

  • Lawrence Tribe is a prominent academic voice on the Constitution and the Court as an institution. (He was formerly on the short list for appointment.)
    He has an authoritative review of 5 leading books on the Court, its ethics and the institution in the August 17 New York Review of Books. It behind a high firewall, but perhaps one of the labelers could help others access it. A friend faxed me a copy that I could print.

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