Critical Race Theory and the American Justice System: How Juries Wrestle with Racial Prejudice
When a trial lawyer stands before a jury to argue a case about a Black victim killed by a white person, how should the lawyer best argue the case? Critical race theorists (CRTs) are pessimistic that a white jury can set aside its own racism in judging the Black victims’ actions, and are skeptical of a jury’s ability to fairly judge a white actor’s motives.
Before the George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery killings, there was strong evidence (The Innocence Project) that the CRTs were right. After all, the prosecutors in the Ahmaud Arbery case were so convinced that a white jury in a Georgia county would not convict white vigilantes, that they initially didn’t even charge the killers with a crime. However, then, back-to-back, in both cases, prosecutors prosecuted, and the jury returned guilty verdicts. They convicted Derrick Chauvin of murder. They convicted Travis and Gregory McMichael and “Roddie” William Bryant of murder. This book examines the how and why of these verdicts and asks whether they hold lessons vital to withstanding CRT challenges to the American justice system.
Paul J. Zwier II is one of America’s most distinguished professors of advocacy and skills training. He is Director of Emory’s Program for International Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and a Professor of Law, having previously served as Director of Public Education for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, USA. He has taught and designed public and in-house skills programs in trial advocacy, advocacy in mediation, and expert testimony at deposition and trial for more than 40 years. He is the author of a number of publications, including the books Principled Negotiation on an International Stage: Talking with Evil (2013) and Peacemaking, Religious Belief and the Rule of Law: The Struggle between Dictatorship and Democracy in Syria and Beyond (2018).
"The title of this book by Paul J. Zwier II, is really quite an understatement. It is more, much more, than its title, Critical Race Theory and the American Justice System. What the author has done is create an extremely well researched analysis of how CRT has permeated the justice system historically, to the present, and from a variety of perspectives. This is not a book that can be read in just a few sessions, or even read just once. There is simply too much information and I foresee it being used as a resource for researchers. What Zwier has done is take the reader through memorable cases and personalities, the writings of respected academics, and the variations of the Supreme Court over the years. He brings all of this into the present by describing and critiquing the recent impeachment trials of Nixon, Clinton, and Trump and finishes with commentary about how jurors are selected today in criminal cases and how that process has changed, caused primarily by the needs of the times. Zwier has contributed an outstanding scholarly analysis that will be used and appreciated by lawyers, students, and academics alike."
Samuel Richard Rubin Federal Defender of Idaho, (ret.)
"Professor Zwier provides helpful insight into the issues confronting trial lawyers in today’s courtroom and useful suggestions for voir dire, opening and closing. I will keep this book in my personal library of trial materials."
William Hunt Hunt & Embry (Boston)
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