Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New: The Justice of Mercy

From the University of Michigan Press: The Justice of Mercy, with text by Linda Ross Meyer
Paper 978-0-472-11745-1 / $65.00

"This book addresses a question both ancient and urgently timely: how to reconcile the law's call to justice with the heart's call to mercy? Linda Ross Meyer's answer is both philosophical and pragmatic, taking us from the conceptual roots of the supposed conflict between justice and mercy to concrete examples in both fiction and contemporary criminal law. Energetic, eloquent, and moving, this book's defense of mercy will resonate with philosophers, legal scholars, lawyers, and policymakers engaged with criminal justice, and anyone concerned about our current harshly punitive legal system." Carol Steiker, Harvard Law School

How can granting mercy be just if it gives a criminal less punishment than he "deserves" and treats his case differently from others like it? This ancient question has become central to debates over truth and reconciliation commissions, alternative dispute resolution, and other new forms of restorative justice. The traditional response has been to marginalize mercy and to cast doubt on its ability to coexist with forms of legal justice.

Flipping the relationship between justice and mercy, Linda Ross Meyer argues that our rule-bound and harsh system of punishment is deeply flawed and that mercy should be, not the crazy woman in the attic of the law, but the lady of the house. This book articulates a theory of punishment with mercy and illustrates the implications of that theory with legal examples drawn from criminal law doctrine, pardons, mercy in military justice, and fictional narratives of punishment and mercy.

Linda Ross Meyer is Carmen Tortora Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University School of Law; President of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities; and Associate Editor of Journal of Law, Culture and the Humanities.

Press contact: Mike Kehoe, University of Michigan Press,

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