An overwhelmingly Arab-centric perspective dominates the West’s understanding of Islam and leads to a view of this religion as exclusively Middle Eastern and monolithic. Teena Purohit presses for a reorientation that would conceptualize Islam instead as a heterogeneous religion that has found a variety of expressions in local contexts throughout history. The story she tells of an Ismaili community in colonial India illustrates how much more complex Muslim identity is, and always has been, than the media would have us believe.
The Aga Khan Case focuses on a nineteenth-century court case in Bombay that influenced how religious identity was defined in India and subsequently the British Empire. The case arose when a group of Indians known as the Khojas refused to pay tithes to the Aga Khan, a Persian nobleman and hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismailis. The Khojas abided by both Hindu and Muslim customs and did not identify with a single religion prior to the court’s ruling in 1866, when the judge declared them to be converts to Ismaili Islam beholden to the Aga Khan.
In her analysis of the ginans, the religious texts of the Khojas that formed the basis of the judge’s decision, Purohit reveals that the religious practices they describe are not derivations of a Middle Eastern Islam but manifestations of a local vernacular one. Purohit suggests that only when we understand Islam as inseparable from the specific cultural milieus in which it flourishes do we fully grasp the meaning of this global religion.
Agent Orange on Trial is a riveting legal drama with all the suspense of a courtroom thriller. One of the Vietnam War’s farthest reaching legacies was the Agent Orange case. In this unprecedented personal injury class action, veterans charge that a valuable herbicide, indiscriminately sprayed on the luxuriant Vietnam jungle a generation ago, has now caused cancers, birth defects, and other devastating health problems. Peter Schuck brilliantly recounts the gigantic confrontation between two million ex-soldiers, the chemical industry, and the federal government. From the first stirrings of the lawyers in 1978 to the court plan in 1985 for distributing a record $200 million settlement, the case, which is now on appeal, has extended the frontiers of our legal system in all directions.
In a book that is as much about innovative ways to look at the law as it is about the social problems arising from modern science, Schuck restages a sprawling, complex drama. The players include dedicated but quarrelsome veterans, a crusading litigator, class action organizers, flamboyant trial lawyers, astute court negotiators, and two federal judges with strikingly different judicial styles. High idealism, self-promotion, Byzantine legal strategies, and judicial creativity combine in a fascinating portrait of a human struggle for justice through law.
The Agent Orange case is the most perplexing and revealing example until now of a new legal genre: the mass toxic tort. Such cases, because of their scale, cost, geographical and temporal dispersion, and causal uncertainty, present extraordinarily difficult challenges to our legal system. They demand new approaches to procedure, evidence, and the definition of substantive legal rights and obligations, as well as new roles for judges, juries, and regulatory agencies. Schuck argues that our legal system must be redesigned if it is to deal effectively with the increasing number of chemical disasters such as the Bhopal accident, ionizing radiation, asbestos, DES, and seepage of toxic wastes. He imaginatively reveals the clash between our desire for simple justice and the technical demands of a complex legal system.
The People vs. O. J. Simpson ranks indisputably as the trial of the century. It featured a double murder, a celebrity defendant, a perjuring witness, and a glove that didn’t fit. The trial became a media circus of outrageous proportions that led the judge to sequester the jury, eject disruptive reporters, and fine the lawyers thousands of dollars. Now an insider at The People vs. O. J. Simpson reveals the untold story of the most widely followed trial in American history and the indelible impact it has had on the judiciary, the media, and the public.
As the Los Angeles Superior Court’s media liaison, Jerrianne Hayslett had unprecedented access to the trial—and met with Judge Lance Ito daily—as she attempted, sometimes unsuccessfully, to mediate between the court and members of the media and to balance their interests. In Anatomy of a Trial, she takes readers behind the scenes to shed new light on people and proceedings and to show how the media and the trial participants changed the court-media landscape to the detriment of the public’s understanding of the judicial system.
For those who think they’ve already read all there is to know about the Simpson trial, this book is an eye-opener. Hayslett kept a detailed journal during the proceedings in which she recorded anecdotes and commentary. She also shares previously undisclosed information to expose some of the myths and stereotypes perpetuated by the trial, while affirming other stories that emerged during that time. By examining this trial after more than a decade, she shows how it has produced a bunker mentality in the judicial system, shaping media and public access to courts with lasting impact on such factors as cameras in the courtroom, jury selection, admonishments from the bench, and fair-trial/free-press tensions.
The first account of the trial written with Judge Ito’s cooperation, Anatomy of a Trial is a page-turning narrative and features photographs that capture both the drama of the courtroom and the excesses of the media. It also includes perspectives of legal and journalism authorities and offers a blueprint for how the courts and media can better meet their responsibilities to the public.
Even today, judges, lawyers, and journalists across the country say the Simpson trial changed everything. This book finally tells us why.
Underscores the importance of “little people” in affecting the US government
Armed with the Constitution stresses the courage of a black man, Rosco Jones, and a white woman, Grace Marsh, who dared to challenge the status quo in Alabama in the early 1940s. These two Jehovah’s Witnesses helped to lay a foundation for testing the constitutionality of state and local laws, establishing precedents that the Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement, and similar forces could follow. Newton has prepared a finely woven tale of oral, legal, and social history that opens a window on the world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Alabama.
More than a legal study, this book is also a dramatic history of two powerful personalities whose total commitment to their faith enabled them to carry the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ battle from rural Alabama to the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.