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The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice

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A thousand years of legal protections against tyranny are being stolen right before our eyes. Under the guise of good intentions, personal liberties as old as the Magna Carta have become casualties in the wars being waged on pollution, drugs, white-collar crime, and all of the other real and imagined social ills. The result: innocent people caught up in a bureaucratic web A thousand years of legal protections against tyranny are being stolen right before our eyes. Under the guise of good intentions, personal liberties as old as the Magna Carta have become casualties in the wars being waged on pollution, drugs, white-collar crime, and all of the other real and imagined social ills. The result: innocent people caught up in a bureaucratic web that destroys lives and livelihoods; businesses shuttered because of victimless infractions; a justice system that values coerced pleas over the search for truth; bullying police agencies empowered to confiscate property without due process. "A devastating indictment of our current system of justice." � Milton Friedman In this provocative book, Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton show how the law, which once shielded us from the government, has now become a powerful weapon in the hands of overzealous prosecutors and bureaucrats. Lost is the foundation upon which our freedom rest�the intricate framework of Constitutional limits that protect our property, our liberty, and our lives. Roberts and Stratton convincingly argue that this abuse of government power doesn't have ideological boundaries. Indeed, conservatives and liberals alike use prosecutors, regulators, and courts to chase after their own favorite "devils," to seek punishment over justice and expediency over freedom. The authors present harrowing accounts of people both rich and poor, of CEOs and blue-collar workers who have fallen victim to the tyranny of good intentions, who have lost possessions, careers, loved ones, and sometimes even their lives. This book is a sobering wake-up call to reclaim that which is rightly ours�liberty protected by the rule of law.


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A thousand years of legal protections against tyranny are being stolen right before our eyes. Under the guise of good intentions, personal liberties as old as the Magna Carta have become casualties in the wars being waged on pollution, drugs, white-collar crime, and all of the other real and imagined social ills. The result: innocent people caught up in a bureaucratic web A thousand years of legal protections against tyranny are being stolen right before our eyes. Under the guise of good intentions, personal liberties as old as the Magna Carta have become casualties in the wars being waged on pollution, drugs, white-collar crime, and all of the other real and imagined social ills. The result: innocent people caught up in a bureaucratic web that destroys lives and livelihoods; businesses shuttered because of victimless infractions; a justice system that values coerced pleas over the search for truth; bullying police agencies empowered to confiscate property without due process. "A devastating indictment of our current system of justice." � Milton Friedman In this provocative book, Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton show how the law, which once shielded us from the government, has now become a powerful weapon in the hands of overzealous prosecutors and bureaucrats. Lost is the foundation upon which our freedom rest�the intricate framework of Constitutional limits that protect our property, our liberty, and our lives. Roberts and Stratton convincingly argue that this abuse of government power doesn't have ideological boundaries. Indeed, conservatives and liberals alike use prosecutors, regulators, and courts to chase after their own favorite "devils," to seek punishment over justice and expediency over freedom. The authors present harrowing accounts of people both rich and poor, of CEOs and blue-collar workers who have fallen victim to the tyranny of good intentions, who have lost possessions, careers, loved ones, and sometimes even their lives. This book is a sobering wake-up call to reclaim that which is rightly ours�liberty protected by the rule of law.

30 review for The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    This is the sort of book that people like me read when they want to scare themselves about the state of the rule of law in the United States. I was told about this book by a coworker of mine who is part of the general reporting analyst group within the company I work for [1] as we were returning from one of our group jaunts to a nearby Indian restaurant. Having some interest in law and in the history and philosophy of law, I looked to this book as an encouragement to follow in the legal traditio This is the sort of book that people like me read when they want to scare themselves about the state of the rule of law in the United States. I was told about this book by a coworker of mine who is part of the general reporting analyst group within the company I work for [1] as we were returning from one of our group jaunts to a nearby Indian restaurant. Having some interest in law and in the history and philosophy of law, I looked to this book as an encouragement to follow in the legal traditions of our fathers, who stood against tyranny and in the rule of law, even where (and especially where) that meant defending people who were unpopular and obnoxious. After all, it is precisely those people whom we think the worst of that most deserve the protection of law, to save them from our prejudices, and to be treated justly and with respect and honor as citizens, rather than to have their lives determined by their political skill. In terms of its structure and contents, this book is a straightforward one that is topically organized and takes up only about 180 pages of main material after its introduction. The authors examined various aspects of contemporary law in the United States that are severely screwed up, and points the blame for that to the influence of Benthamite legal scholars who were impatient with restrictions on administrative law and the behavior of unaccountable bureaucrats and prosecutors seeking redistributive social justice and who sought an end to long-sought constitutional protections such as the requirement for mens rea (a guilty mind) and proof of criminal activity. The book begins by comparing the law as a shield, the view of the long development of English law, with the law as a weapon through the examination of the fate of purged Soviet leader Nikolai Bukharin, who found his power was of no protection when he ran afoul of the paranoid Stalin. The authors then discuss how the law was lost from the early 1900's through the New Deal, bit by bit, through executive grandstanding and judicial and legislative cowardice and treachery. The authors then discuss the problem of crimes without intent, retroactive law that violates ex post facto prohibitions, the psychological torture of plea bargains, the demise of attorney-client privilege, racial and social privilege trumping rights, the problem of civil forfeiture, the problems that result from the ambition of district attorneys to make a name for themselves by targeting the successful out of envy, the abdication of legislative power to unconstitutional executive agencies, and what is to be done, which looks at the collapse of Benthamite government in this country as it has failed in every other country around the world so far. The authors themselves have no particular partisan ax to grind--they show that presidents of both political parties have done great harm in the last century or so to the body of constitutional law and protection, whether in the name of discredited lame duck presidencies like the last days of the Carter presidency to the law and order justice department of President Reagan to the corrupt FBI under Janet Reno's watch, or the constitutional revolution of the New Deal or TR's bully pulpit. The terror that the authors paint is one that some of us, myself included, have actually experienced over the course of our lives, where legal protections and the expectation of fair and just behavior on the part of authorities are nonexistent for those who have made themselves obnoxious to authorities, and where even the anonymity of living a quiet and obscure life cannot save one from feeling the force of personal and unpleasant attention when one has drawn the scrutiny of the police apparatus [2]. This book is the exploration of a nightmare that anyone can experience if they happen to run afoul of our nation's bureaucracy, where no privileged status or wealth can protect one from continual harassment that targets one's property, one's reputation, and one's freedom, regardless of whether one has actually done anything wrong or not. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... [2] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Disclaimer: For more than 20 years I have considered myself a wronged victim of a flawed US legal system overrun by bumbling administrators/bureaucrats, biased prosecutors and judges. Political correctness, prejudice and expedience have diluted the law. My frustration intensified after the leading "source" responsible for much of my legal travails subsequently tendered a full confession in writing, detailing how false allegations and perjured testimony were manufactured, encouraged and abetted b Disclaimer: For more than 20 years I have considered myself a wronged victim of a flawed US legal system overrun by bumbling administrators/bureaucrats, biased prosecutors and judges. Political correctness, prejudice and expedience have diluted the law. My frustration intensified after the leading "source" responsible for much of my legal travails subsequently tendered a full confession in writing, detailing how false allegations and perjured testimony were manufactured, encouraged and abetted by the kind of despicable legal, political and administrative actors that Roberts describes in this book. By then 20 years had passed during which time I moved abroad, established roots in another country and ultimately renounced my US citizenship. This book validated my darkest suspicions about the US legal system. The details of my story are not important, but unlike my adversaries (who are aptly depicted in Roberts' book) I admit my own biases and prejudices at the outset. The principles of common law must endure. But as this book so aptly notes, the victims are punished before any evidence is examined or verdicts are rendered. Many are coerced into pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit. The real criminals are rewarded, exempted and never held to account. To paraphrase Nietzche, the Constitution, the Bill of Right, the Rule of Law - all of these are Dead. The German philosopher actually declared that "God is Dead" but think about the concept of a higher almost divinely inspired rule of law - the sanctity of concepts like habeas corpus, the prohibitions against self-incrimination, torture, ex post facto laws and retroactive prosecution. Don't these principles transcend the lawyers and courts? In the first few chapters of the book, Roberts traces the foundations of Blackstone's Common Law and the traditions extending back to the Magna Carta to validate the history and importance of legal protection. He provides a detailed summary of a Russian show trial from the 1930s highlighting how an innocent victim was indicted, coerced, convicted and executed. This sets the template for a series of cases in the United States where other unjustly accused are railroaded by a legal system that for all purposes has gone off the rails. The rest of the book details how far the US legal system has strayed, how innocent victims are maliciously prosecuted and their lives ruined. How the legal system abets pre-emptive incarceration, asset seizures, false testimony, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial failure and corrupt enforcement. American has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's jailed inmates. The US has a fraction of China's population but jails a multiple of its citizens compared to the PRC. In the US, cases rarely go to trial; instead, the system encourages plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is like a double-edged sword; however, both sides cut deep and undermine the rule of law. Guilty defendants can whittle down multiple charges to lower prison sentences (especially if they are able to rat out other defendants). Other victims who have committed no crime are forced into pleading guilty to reduced sentences or face harsher consequences. Longer jail terms await innocent defendants who claim their Constitutional right to a fair trial by their peers. Not to spoil it for any readers, but the book dismissed many of my preconceived opinions on a range of subjects. These include - Jeremy Bentham and the concept of Utilitarianism The cases of Michael Milken, Martha Stewart, the Exxon Valdez, Jimmy Hoffa and Charles Keating Massachusetts politicians - especially Deval Patrick, Martha Coakley and L. Scott Harshbarger The Patriot Act The Environmental Protection Agency ... and there are many more. Another eye-opening feature. We presume that unjust laws generally target the indigents and outsiders; however, the affluent and popular also become prominent victims. The book avoids going into detailed legal explanations and focuses on basic concepts that the layman can understand and appreciate. There are many citations of cases and examples that challenge the reader's credibility and provoke outrage. To those who elevate and worship the sanctity of the Law, this book suggests that a mob of empowered, self-serving vandals broke into the Church, smashed the interior and carted off the spoils. Should I ever find myself in an American courtroom being asked to swear to tell the truth with one hand over a Bible, I would be tempted to respond "Yes, I do. Do You?". This book might convince you why this question needs to be asked and how our system has so egregiously failed us.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Fox

    After reading Three Felonies a Day by Harvey Silvergate, I decided to give this book a shot. This book is very similar, it examines numerous cases of prosecutorial misconduct, infringement of civil liberties by the federal government, and grotesque examples of injustice. Unfortunately, this book is not well-written and suffers from some of the same shortcomings as Three Felonies a Day. For those that support the arguments of these books, these two books are just not very compelling. First, the au After reading Three Felonies a Day by Harvey Silvergate, I decided to give this book a shot. This book is very similar, it examines numerous cases of prosecutorial misconduct, infringement of civil liberties by the federal government, and grotesque examples of injustice. Unfortunately, this book is not well-written and suffers from some of the same shortcomings as Three Felonies a Day. For those that support the arguments of these books, these two books are just not very compelling. First, the authors are blatantly and unapologetically biased, with only minor attempts at objectivity. Much of the text reads like an editorial piece in a newspaper or something put up on a partisan website. They are on the proverbial soap box for most of the book. Each case is given a few pages, with only a glancing examination of the facts. The footnotes and sources are not very extensive, which is a bit of a red flag. The book's subject matter poorly relates to the title of the book. The prosecutors examined in the book are not pursuing their own idea of justice, in other words they have no good intentions. They are trying to advance their own careers or are trying to enrich themselves financially. The fact that the title and the text don't match raises several questions about this book and its honesty. It simply isn't what it claims to be. The cases are drawn from several decades and from numerous jurisdictions. Clearly the authors cherry-picked the worse cases and then extrapolated it to be a nationwide epidemic of injustice. This is problematic. All this comes down to credibility. These two authors don't have it. This book is better than Three Felonies a Day in a couple areas. First, it focuses more on legal principles and the underlying Constitutional protections that are being violated. Three Felonies hardly does any legal analysis at all. Second, the authors weren't directly involved in the cases cited, something that tainted Three Felonies. Disappointment is the best way to describe my experience. I support many of the assertions and arguments in this book, and feel strongly that the federal government has expanded its powers to dangerous and disturbing levels. I just think this book made a flawed and uncompelling case. Not sure what to think about this. Is there anyone that can make the case without jumping onto the soap box???

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane Carol Mark

    Paul Craig Roberts is an excellent spokesperson and writer. All of his books and articles are very worthwhile.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    A pretty good (and damning) indictment of the criminal justice system, or maybe I should call it by a more accurate title - conviction system. I think Roberts and Stratton are little too worshipful of law and are a little idealistic in there thoughts of what the law can do concerning protecting individuals. Power corrupts, and I don't see how a legal system can keep itself from growing into the monster that we have today.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Everic Rivas

    Excellent book to understand the extent and history of how the government no longer abides by its Constitutional obligations to protect individual liberties, but instead illustrates how the governent now turns that obligation on its head.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I just discovered this book a few days ago and I'm very, very impressed with it. Most of the time I see 'conspiracy theory' and roll my eyes. That was my initial reaction to this book as well but this author actually knowd the meaning of 'conspiracy theory.' Most people using that term are describing the fiction taking place in their own heads. Mr. Roberts is not. This book should be read all over the US because it is absolutely spot-on. Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty, although I t I just discovered this book a few days ago and I'm very, very impressed with it. Most of the time I see 'conspiracy theory' and roll my eyes. That was my initial reaction to this book as well but this author actually knowd the meaning of 'conspiracy theory.' Most people using that term are describing the fiction taking place in their own heads. Mr. Roberts is not. This book should be read all over the US because it is absolutely spot-on. Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty, although I think the left may actually be more of a problem here. They are great fans of the "its for their/his/her own good' mantra. I'm rather disappointed to see how few reviews this book has. This is extremely important.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Mcquirk

    An excellent source of material on the systemic problems within our criminal justice system, and the legislation that causes legal problems for citizens in the name of good ideas.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kcthinker

    This book opened my eyes about how plea bargaining is huge tool of injustice giving the government too much control over the people they serve.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sean Rosenthal

    Interesting Quote: "Plea bargaining has ominous implications...Defendants who insist upon exercising their constitutional right to a jury trial risk a substantially increased sentence...and this sentencing differential alone is enough to make plea bargaining coercive...[After often] facing physical and psychological pressure akin to torture, the defendant accepts the deal...Before accepting the plea, the judge asks the defendant for assurance that the plea was voluntary and that no deals prompted Interesting Quote: "Plea bargaining has ominous implications...Defendants who insist upon exercising their constitutional right to a jury trial risk a substantially increased sentence...and this sentencing differential alone is enough to make plea bargaining coercive...[After often] facing physical and psychological pressure akin to torture, the defendant accepts the deal...Before accepting the plea, the judge asks the defendant for assurance that the plea was voluntary and that no deals prompted it. The judge's acceptance of the assurance underscores the complicity of all parties in the evasion of truth." -Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence Stratton, the Tyranny of Good Intentions

  11. 4 out of 5

    T. David

    Important, rarely discussed issue. A welcome historical perspective on the establishment of what we now think of as "rights" and their constant erosion through prosecutorial and executive powers that are less and less restrained. Some historic citations, both recent and ancient, are treated superficially and anecdotally, but this is a reasonable trade off when authors desire to keep their book at a readable and accessible length, in order to convey an urgent and important message to as many read Important, rarely discussed issue. A welcome historical perspective on the establishment of what we now think of as "rights" and their constant erosion through prosecutorial and executive powers that are less and less restrained. Some historic citations, both recent and ancient, are treated superficially and anecdotally, but this is a reasonable trade off when authors desire to keep their book at a readable and accessible length, in order to convey an urgent and important message to as many readers as possible.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    very good insightful read from a former undersecretary to Reagan (whom, i must say, i utterly loathed)... highly recommend Mr. Roberts website as well...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    Don't read this if you're easily paranoid; otherwise eye opening and a bit frightening.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    Roberts persuasively shows how power corrupts those who have it and how even well-intentioned policies usually result in unforeseen and unwanted, if not horrific, results.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Ahimsa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt Dougherty

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Tagessen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zanzara

  19. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Myers

  20. 4 out of 5

    cheryl Goncalves

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  22. 5 out of 5

    T Bui

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gene

  25. 4 out of 5

    John strapason

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  27. 4 out of 5

    Edward Easton

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Edward Clark

  30. 4 out of 5

    Al

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