Distorting The Law: Politics, Media, And The Litigation Crisis

Paperback | October 1, 2004

byWilliam Haltom

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In recent years, stories of reckless lawyers and greedy citizens have given the legal system, and victims in general, a bad name. Many Americans have come to believe that we live in the land of the litigious, where frivolous lawsuits and absurdly high settlements reign.

Scholars have argued for years that this common view of the depraved ruin of our civil legal system is a myth, but their research and statistics rarely make the news. William Haltom and Michael McCann here persuasively show how popularized distorted understandings of tort litigation (or tort tales) have been perpetuated by the mass media and reform proponents. Distorting the Law lays bare how media coverage has sensationalized lawsuits and sympathetically portrayed corporate interests, supporting big business and reinforcing negative stereotypes of law practices.

Based on extensive interviews, nearly two decades of newspaper coverage, and in-depth studies of the McDonald's coffee case and tobacco litigation, Distorting the Law offers a compelling analysis of the presumed litigation crisis, the campaign for tort law reform, and the crucial role the media play in this process.

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In recent years, stories of reckless lawyers and greedy citizens have given the legal system, and victims in general, a bad name. Many Americans have come to believe that we live in the land of the litigious, where frivolous lawsuits and absurdly high settlements reign.Scholars have argued for years that this common view of the deprave...

William Haltom is professor in the Department of Politics and Government at the University of Puget Sound and the author of Reporting on the Courts. Michael McCann is the Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of several books, most recently the award-w...

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Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:332 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:October 1, 2004Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226314642

ISBN - 13:9780226314648

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
1. The Social Production of Legal Knowledge
Part One: Contesting Legal Realities
2. Pop Torts: Tales of Legal Degeneration and Moral Regeneration
3. In Retort: Narratives versus Numbers
4. ATLA Shrugged: Plaintiffs' Lawyers Play Defense
Part Two: Reporting Legal Realities
5. Full Tort Press: Media Coverage of Civil Litigation
6. Java Jive: Genealogy of a Juridical Icon
7. Smoke Signals from the Tobacco Wars
8. Law through the Looking Glass of Mass Politics
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

"This is an excellent study and should assume its rightful place in the pantheonnn of law and society studies."--The Law and Politics Book Review