Monday, August 31, 2009

The Appeal

so last week i read the appeal, the first john grisham book i have read in years. when i was younger i read the client and the runaway jury and i got about half way through the partner before i decided i had just about had enough of john grisham. for starters, there is only so much legal intrigue a person can take and secondly, i just find his plethora of characters a little superfluous and frustrating. anyway, the reason i started reading a john grisham, despite my inclination not to is because i had finished the book i was reading (sympathy, as discussed earlier) while i was at daves, and i didnt bring a new book and was getting antsy with nothing to read. especially because it was sunday morning and dave was still asleep, which is what usually happens on sunday mornings. anyway, so i scoured his apartment looking for something to read and i found the appeal. i knew i wasnt going to particularly like or dislike this book, but it got the job done, and it was just interesting enough for me to finish it.
so. the appeal. this book is about a couple of lawyers who successfully sue a giant corporate chemical manufacturer who have been illegally dumping toxins into a valley for years. the toxins have penetrated the aquifer that supplies water to a small town nearby and so the people in the town are dropping like flies from the cancer. anyway so the jury finds them guilty and awards the plaintiff damages to the tune of 41 million dollars. this obviously carries certain ramifications because if the award is upheld on appeal, it sets a precedent for everyone ELSE in the town to sue the company for millions of dollars. SO the company is appealing the decision.
since the owner of the company is evil, he gets in touch with this company who will basically fix an election for the supreme court for the low low price of 8 million dollars. he pays them, they set up a candidate who will win the election and vote in his favour when the appeal comes before the supreme court. the bulk of the book is about this election and the ways in which big business (or anyone else with deep pockets) can manipulate the electoral process in order to have elected officials who will vote in their best interests. the whole thing is pretty disgusting and evil and just makes this canadian reader feel oh-so-smug because we dont elect our judges here in the great white north.
as with most of john grisham's other works, the appeal is very technical and tedious, but i have to give him credit for addressing this issue, because it is a serious one. the fact that there are states who elect their jurists leaves an already flawed justice system open to further corruption. the great tragedy of the so-called american dream is that despite its touting claims of anyone being able to do anything they want, it has manifested itself as a distinctly class driven society where the rich and privileged can do what ever they want, and the poor suffer for it. it is frightening to think that this blight of american civilisation could (or maybe does) penetrate the justice system, which is supposed to be unbiased. if someone doesnt sit up and reform this system, all americans will ultimately be at the mercy of big business and its whims. which is not only unjust, it is inhumane.

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