Watch the Recent Library Free Speech Special Event
August Book Drive—Purchase a Book for the Library!
Each month we will seek donors to purchase a new title for the Library. Here is the book Wish List for August:
Legal Guide to the Business of Marijuana
John Lennon vs. The USA: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History
A Guide for Immigration Advocates
Please take a look at our Book Drive page to see Wish List items from prior months. We are still wishing for these books!
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Law Library Book of the Month:
Litigation in Practice
The Honorable Curtis E.A. Karnow has been a judge on the San Francisco Superior Court since 2005, after 28 years as an assistant U.S. attorney, a clerk, and a lawyer in private practice. He has authored the Rutter Group Guide Civil Procedure Before Trial, for which all California litigators owe him a debt of gratitude, and has spoken here at the San Francisco Law Library. Litigation in Practice, published in 2017, is a fairly brief compilation of articles he had previously published in law journals, with some additional material. He starts with the premise that “while judges remember what it is to practice law, most lawyers have little idea of what it is to be a judge.” So he wants to “bridge that gap,” and give guidance to attorneys from his judicial perspective.
The book is a curious mix of the practical and the theoretical, perhaps reflecting its origin as separate articles. Having asserted in his introduction that “law is what happens in the courtroom,” he devotes his first chapter to mostly common-sense rules for conduct before the bench. Be polite. Be prepared. Don’t waste the judge’s time or otherwise show disrespect. He discusses how to submit and argue motions, select and treat jurors, and present evidence. An experienced litigator probably won’t be surprised by any of his rules and recommendations, but a newer attorney might find them interesting and useful.
The next chapter, on the use of statistics and probability, is fascinating but somewhat technical; it requires careful reading. Karnow cites examples of claims made in courts about the chances of some event occurring, and then dissects them to show why they don’t hold up mathematically and should never have been allowed. The next few chapters get into a sort of legal epistemology, based on philosophy and logic: the one on settlement conferences refers to game theory, and one on legal analysis uses theories of categories to argue that really, any case has something in common with every other. The last chapter discusses legal education, how in this country it went from teaching practical skills to emphasizing academic, theoretical ones. (Which is interesting, since it’s basically what he’s done in the course of the book!)
Karnow is obviously extremely intelligent and a keen observer of the legal system. Attorneys appearing before him will benefit from reading through this book to understand his thinking. And litigators in general might find it will change their thinking about their profession and its processes, and hence, how they practice them.