1. Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, Harvey Silvergate, 2011.
2. English Law, Frederic William Maitland.
3. Law and Revolution: The Formation of Western Legal Tradition, Harold Berman, 1983. A book that Gary North calls magnificent. He writes,
It is not easy to prove this. That is because federal regulatory agencies supply the judges to decide whether the agencies are correct or not. This is the curse of administrative law in the modern world. Administrative law is the greatest single threat to our liberties. That point was made in 1983 by Harvard legal historian, Harold Berman, in the Introduction to his magnificent book, Law and Revolution.
Law and Revolution was a detailed study of the Papal Revolution of 1075-1122 and its after-effects. Only scholars in medieval history and legal history are likely to read it. I read it.
The Introduction is the key. Most of it is on-line for free courtesy of Google. There are some missing pages, but you can understand his thesis with what is on-line.
Here is his thesis. The Western legal tradition is the result of six revolutions: (1) Papal; (2) Reformation; (3) English (1688); (3) American; (5) French; (6) Russian.
There is now a seventh: administrative law. This is the main one. It is taking away our liberties. It is universal.
The USSR is gone. Russian administrative law isn’t.
What is administrative law? Law that is written by the executive and enforced by nearly autonomous executive agencies. The term “administrative law judge” identifies such an official.
The executive is centralizing control. The legislatures are becoming peripheral. The courts are becoming peripheral.
He said that this is the greatest threat to liberty today.
I argue that only one thing can reverse it: de-funding.
The process has escalated since 1983. The Federal Register was 70,000 pages under Carter. It shrank under Reagan. It is back up to 70,000 pages. Every day, 200 pages of triple-column pages of new Federal regulations are published. It is never-ending. With every page, the freedom of buyers and sellers to work out an agreement shrinks. The public is unaware of this process.
Lawyers win. Bureaucrats win. Most of the rest of us lose.
4. Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory (Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought)
5. The Law of Nations, Emmerich de Vattel, 1758.
6. Authoritarian Sociopathy: Toward a Renegade Psychological Experiment, Davi Barker, 2014 (Free Press Publications, 2015), p. 4.
7. “The Myth of the Rule of Law,” John Hasnas, 1995. See his page from Georgetown.
8. Trapped: When Acting Ethically Is Against the Law, John Hasnas, 2006.
9. The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration, Vincent Ostrom, 1973.
10. Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, 2015.
Arthur Koestler’s timeless classic, Darkness at Noon, first published in 1941, is a powerful and haunting portrait of a Soviet revolutionary who is imprisoned and tortured under Stalin’s rule.
Of all of Arthur Koestler’s works, none demonstrates more vividly his narrative power and his uncompromising clarity of vision than this seminal work of twentieth-century literature. “Darkness at Noon is the sort of novel that transcends ordinary limitations…written with such dramatic power, with such warmth of feeling, and with such persuasive simplicity” (The New York Times, 1941).
Set during Stalin’s Moscow show trials of the 1930s, Darkness at Noon is an unforgettable portrait of an aging revolutionary, Nicholas Rubashov, who is imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the very Party to which he has dedicated his life. As the pressure increases to confess to committing preposterous crimes, he re-lives a career that embodies the terrible ironies and human betrayals of a totalitarian movement masking itself as an instrument of deliverance. Almost unbearably vivid in its depiction of one man’s solitary agony, Darkness at Noon asks questions about ends and means that have relevance not only for the past, but for the perilous present. It is, as the Times Literary Supplement has declared, “A remarkable book, a grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian Revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellectualized drama.”
11. Criminals and Victims: A Trial Judge Reflects on Crime and Punishment, Lois G. Forer, 1980.
12. A Rage to Punish: The Unintended Consequences of Mandatory Sentencing, Lois G. Forer, 1994.
13. Money and Justice: Who Owns the Courts? Lois G. Forer, 1984.
14. Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner, 2012.
15. Arrest Proof Yourself, Dale Carson, 2013.
16. The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice, Paul Craign Robert and Lawrence M. Stratton, 2008. This book was recommended in Paul Craig Roberts’ article on George Floyd, dated Is “It Racism When Police Murder and Brutalize White People?” Paul Craig Roberts, June 3, 2020. This was a damning statement of the courts:
Black leaders could also look into the serious problem of prosecutorial misconduct. Every race suffers from this misconduct. The success indicator for prosecutors is today a high rate and number of convictions, not justice. A high conviction rate is achieved by plea bargains, which can be arranged in hours compared to the days and weeks of a court trial. A plea bargain is achieved by dropping charges that are more serious for admission of guilt to less serious charges.
All attorneys know that a defendant, who insists on a trial, faces more serious charges, incurs the wrath of both prosecutor and judge whose time and energy the defense uses up in court, and is at the mercy of jurors who trust the integrity of police and prosecutor more than they trust advocates for defendants whose arrest implies guilt. Consequenly, according to official data, 97% of felony cases are settled with plea bargains. This means that police evidence is subject to being tested in only 3% of felony cases. Obviously, the absence of testing of their evidence makes police very careless in investigating crimes. It has proven easier to frame the innocent than to convict the guilty.
No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times (Wall Street Journal Book), Dorothy Rabinowitz, 2003. One reader writes,
An eloquent account of several trials where innocent people were railroaded and wrongfully convicted of child molestation (and worse) based on the persuasion of so-called “experts” in the dubious realm of repressed memory syndrome. Eloquent and chilling, as the accused saw their misguided hope and faith that our justice system would “clear this all up” in a day or two dashed by overzealous prosecutors, biased judges and a Fourth Estate eager for more lurid copy to sell newspapers.
Although the cases occurred in the late 80’s and early 90’s (height of the frenzy of child abuse show trials like the McMartin preschool scandal in California) I put it down unnerved by the power of an unholy trinity of courts/academe/media to cause rational, educated adults to doubt their own best judgment and convict based on lies without a shred of physical evidence to support them.
A Kafka-esque affirmation of the book’s title, a quote from Montesquieu that goes “there is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice”.