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By Milind Dongre
How America Holds Court
By Amy Bach
Metropolitan Books (2009)
Reviewed by Milind Dongre
The American criminal justice system is regarded as one of the most
progressive in history. At the same time, the consensus view of criminal
justice professionals and scholars today is that most state court
systems are not living up to the promise of the ideals of due process
enshrined in the federal Constitution. The New York State Court of
Appeals recently ruled, in Hurrell-Harring v. State, that a class action
lawsuit challenging the adequacy of that state’s indigent defense
system could proceed. This ruling is one example of the growing
recognition nationwide of the urgency for reform of state criminal court
procedures that lead court actors — often in an effort to efficiently
manage an overloaded docket with limited resources — to routinely both
disregard defendants’ rights and reinforce the cycle of crime and
poverty that feeds the system in the fi
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