Chapter Four In our civilization, where people deliberately change their institutions from
day-to-day in courts, legislatures, and administrative agencies, we need some
practical way of taking our bearings and employing our courts appropriately
toward necessary ends. We need a coherent and realistic framework to help
us decide what to do and how to go about doing it. The purpose of this
chapter is to show how we might determine what is happening around us
so that we can properly evaluate the political trials that are occurring and
cope with our civilization by using the right kind of political trial at the right
time.We have shown that our political and legal situation is a reflection of our
social experience. That experience is the basis for deciding what trials are
political and which political trials are justified. To do this, we suggest a
framework for comparing these experiences as offered by Philip Nonet and Philip Selznick in their book Law and Society in Transition: Toward Responsive Law.
1 Nonet and Selznick suggest that the varieties of political,
economic, and social experience (i.e., a civilization's "form of life") result in
a legal system with three "characteristic postures:"
Justifying Political Trials
|1. ||repressive (the legal system is the servant of a repressive power)|
|2. ||autonomous (the legal system is a differentiated institution capable of taming
repression and protecting its own integrity)|
|3. ||responsive (the legal system acts as a facilitator in response to social needs and
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: In Defense of Political Trials.
Contributors: Charles F. Abel - Author, Frank H. Marsh - Author, Bernard K. Johnpoll - Editor.
Publisher: Greenwood Press.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 1994.
Page number: 77.
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