Desert-Island Book

Old-time West Texas judges used to travel the circuit with a single law book (and they were still better-read than most modern Texas judges. . .).

If you had to preserve a single criminal-law volume so that the American criminal justice system would survive, what would you choose?

If civilization were crumbling around our ears (if? who am I kidding?), I had to bug out to terra incognita, and I could take only one book to help ensure the survival of the rule of law, my desert-island pick would be the Georgetown Review of Criminal Procedure. I always have a copy on my bookshelf, and it's the first place I look when I face an unfamiliar question of criminal procedure. Its analysis is not deep, but it is broad, fitting a huge amount of criminal-law knowledge into a small space.

Substance is nothing, procedure is everything. If all legal knowledge went up in flames, humanity would come up with a new penal code in a trice, but without a tome like the Georgetown Review, the principles and rules of criminal procedure would take centuries to reconstruct.

What's your pick?

12 responses to “Desert-Island Book”

  1. I always liked the Annotated Constitution until they stopped updating it. It’s a GPO publication. If it has been revived, it would be good to know.

  2. I haven’t seen the Georgetown Review but I’ve gotten a lot of use from Dix & Dawson’s Texas Practice and Procedure

  3. The Manual for Courts-Martial, affectionately known as the “Maroon Harpoon.” Everything you need in one volume – criminal code, procedural rules. It even provides drafts of the charges with the elements included.

    If I were accused, and didn’t do it, I’d much rather be in that system than any other in which I’ve practiced.

  4. At least with procedure, you can challenge substance. With substance alone, there are no guarantees.

    And, tr as I might, I cannot think of what single tome I would take. Maybe that is because my practice covers several areas and no book really covers all except maybe “The Lawyer’s Deskbook.” As with your book, it covers nothing in depth, but it covers almost everything with enough detail to give you a footing.

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