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Bashing lawyers. (Soundbite).

Catherine Crier, host of Court TV's engaging Catherine Crier Live, may be glamming it up now on the small screen, but she spent years in real courts without a makeup crew in sight. Before her TV career, Crier was a civil litigation attorney, an assistant district attorney, and eventually the youngest state judge ever elected in her native Texas.

"The most ridiculous case I saw while on the bench involved a man who was representing himself and suing for malpractice over a penile implant," she says, pausing before whipping out the punch line. "His claim was that it wasn't as large as he remembered."

Crier, who received her law degree at Dallas' Southern Methodist University, has also anchored shows on CNN, Fox News, and ABC. Frustration with frivolous lawsuits--don't tell Mr. Implant--helped inspire her new book, The Case Against Lawyers: How Lawyers, Politicians, and Bureaucrats Have Turned the Law into an Instrument of Tyranny--And What We As Citizens Have to Do about it (Broadway). Assistant Editor Sara Rimensnyder spoke with Crier in late July.

Q: What's the worst problem when it comes to lawyers?

A: Contingency fees. When lawyers take a percentage of the recovery as payment, an arrangement that now permeates the industry, they become financial partners in litigation. Where is the impetus not to push a frivolous lawsuit?

Q: And when it comes to politicians and bureaucrats?

A: The revolving door between industry and political office, including staffing, is very damaging. Also, the use of legislation to give favors is commonplace, particularly with the Internal Revenue Service and tax laws.

Q: You write that the problem with criminal justice today is "the very laws we enact and the manner in which they're implemented."

A: We've lost sight of writing a law with a very specific purpose, determining whether it accomplishes that goal, and enforcing it appropriately if it does. In the court system, selective enforcement occurs all the time. White collar criminals can hurt hundreds of thousands of people and they are rarely punished, while a garage burglar will get plenty of attention in our system.

Q: What should be our first step toward reining in the law?

A: In civil litigation, we need to return to the standard of the "reasonable man." Right now, we don't hear, "Did I behave reasonably at the office?" We hear, "I've got obsessive compulsive disorder and I behave in very bizarre ways and deserve to be accommodated." Employers should not have to tolerate unreasonable behavior. In criminal justice, certain laws have failed. Drug laws are the primary example. They haven't diminished drug use, yet we continue to elevate punishment and spend money to accomplish an unachievable goal.
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Title Annotation:Court TV host Catherine Crier's new book
Author:Rimensnyder, Sara
Publication:Reason
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:446
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