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Batten, Jack.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1986. 335pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7715-9729-0. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by John D. Crawford

Volume 15 Number 1
1987 January

This is the fourth book on a legal subject written by Jack Batten. Those familiar with the earlier works will know what to expect and for them a sufficient review might be, "if you liked Lawyers.* you will enjoy Judges." The success of these books lies in the combination of engrossing subject and engaging writing style. This style produces work that is anecdotal rather than analytical, entertaining rather than scholarly, but always highly readable.

A feature of Judges, as with its predecessors, is the substantial amount of dialogue. The subjects speak for themselves and are the more revealing because of that. Indeed, the judges seem to have taken on some of the characteristics of the milieu in which they work, with dialogue progressing from the Runyonesque to the more sophisticated as the examples move up the judicial hierarchy. The mechanism of the court system is not examined in any depth, but it is implied that academic ability is more important than practical experience in enabling judges to advance their careers.

The writing style of the author is not only engaging, but reveals what to my mind is an iconoclastic attitude. In emphasising the human features of his subject, Batten takes them off their pedestals, and, while the reader may find them more sympathetic than expected, a little respect is lost in the process. The judges are seen as being knowledgeable and experienced practitioners of their art, but with those human characteristics that make them less isolated but more fallible.

The book is well-produced and offers entertaining background material about a profession that has had a wealth of characters in history, both reviled and revered. The author has provided a good and varied selection of Canadian judges who speak of their experiences in a manner that enables the reader to follow that pronouncement of the Bible, "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee."This book can be recommended for schools in which the Canadian judicial system forms part of the curriculum. It will provide valuable background and atmosphere in support of such studies.

John D. Crawford, Blanshard School, Victoria, B.C.

*Reviewed vol. IX/4 1981 p. 266.

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