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Healy, W. (1950). Courts on Trial. Myth and Reality in American Justice: By Jerome Frank. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. 441 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:437-438.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:437-438

Courts on Trial. Myth and Reality in American Justice: By Jerome Frank. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. 441 pp.

Review by:
William Healy

Those who remember the author's book, Law and the Modern Mind, published in 1930, will here expect trenchant discussion and balanced argumentation—and they will not be disappointed. This is a more mature extension of that earlier work, many references to which are unblushingly cited. The intervening years have seen Jerome Frank as chairman of the SEC and latterly as judge of a federal court of appeals, but his greater experience has not led him to become more conservative or less of a critic of legal practices and, in particular, of courtroom procedures. More than ever he sees weaknesses that to a considerable extent are eradicable and in proclaiming them he says that he is willing to dub himself a reformer. The book fairly bristles with hardheaded concrete points at issue while the hundreds of quotations from authorities, classical, philosophical, and literary, as well as legal, are so aptly interspersed that they serve to impart great vigor to the text.

It must be clearly understood that Judge Frank is not adversely critical of our entire legal system. He is mainly concerned with the fundamentally important fact-finding practices of the trial courts. The higher courts rarely have anything to do with deciding the validity of the alleged facts in a case; their function is mainly to pass upon the legality of the procedures and rulings of a lower court. The myth that these so-called upper courts have relatively greater importance for the administration of justice and that consequently to them should be appointed the best-trained and ablest men, this myth should be exploded.


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