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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    February 01, 2004

    Book Reviews

    Richard BinderDouglas BakerJonathan WardMichelle Atkins

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 2, February 2004

    Book Reviews

    Bring on Goliath: Lemon Law Justice in   AmericaBring on Goliath: Lemon Law Justice in America

    By Vince Megna (Tucson, AZ: Ken Press, 2004). 221 pgs. $24.95. Order, (520) 743-3200.

    Reviewed by Douglas E. Baker

    Charles Hamilton Houston, late Dean of the Howard University School of Law, often told his students that "a lawyer's either a social engineer or he's a parasite on society." To hear Wisconsin attorney Vince Megna tell it, a good lemon law lets a lawyer make a good living while doing good.

    Megna, who practices in Waukesha, has written a lively and readable story about his longtime crusade on behalf of disappointed and frustrated automobile buyers. Along the way he verbally skewers nearly every institution, individual, and authority figure he comes up against, including car salespeople, the Better Business Bureau, Detroit, corporate America, arbitrators, judges, and most (but not all) of his attorney colleagues.

    The book, written in first person, consists largely of anecdotes about the experiences of Megna and his clients in auto showrooms and their dealings with automotive bureaucracy. It is a sort of American morality play, invariably involving well-meaning innocents - Megna's clients - snookered by evil salespeople and corporate villains. More importantly, Megna says, his clients nearly always come out with a new car or more cash than they started with (or both), and he ends up with his full attorney fees paid by the other side.

    Bring on Goliath is no legal treatise, and it never claims to be. It lacks an index and annotations. But it is fun, informational, and inspirational. It does a good job of explaining lemon laws in general, and Wisconsin's lemon law in particular. It contains a brief summary of the other state lemon laws - with Megna's unvarnished opinion of them. It provides the basics of building a case, sets out - and demolishes - various defenses raised by the auto industry, and emphasizes the need for careful documentation.

    All in all, this is an excellent introduction to an important area of law and a delight to read. Once they put it down, frustrated car buyers may be motivated to call an attorney, and some attorneys may start thinking about building a lemon law practice. All of which makes it worth reading.

    Douglas E. Baker, Creighton 1989, is a legal editor with the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Democracy's Dilemma: Environment, Social Equity, and the Global Economy

    By Robert C. Paehlke (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003). 306 pgs. $27.95. Order, (800) 405-1619.

    Reviewed by Richard Binder

    What is the dominant governing force in contemporary life? Is it the political system and its institutions or the economy and its markets? According to Robert C. Paehlke, a professor with the Environmental and Resource Studies Program at Trent University, Canada, economics and the quest for market advantage trumps the political. Paehlke labels the current state of affairs as "economism," which he defines as the dominance of social, cultural, and environmental concerns by narrowly defined economic objectives. Economism can be seen at all levels of society. Countries - large and small - are bullied by the power of global trade panels and agreements. Local governments are no match for large developers bearing economic promises or political threats. Environmental protections, public services, and worker welfare diminish as the competition for jobs intensifies.

    Paehlke details many ills that led to "democracy's dilemma." Big media suffers from a desire not to offend powerful organizations and its unquestioned acceptance of the notion that all economic growth is good. Because it strives to make all news entertaining, the bland (but necessary) information for citizens to make good choices does not get out. Then there is the changing position of the worker. The primary function of workers used to be production of goods, but now production is secondary to marketing. Finally, there is the consumer, whose quest for commodities is driven more by status than by need. There's more, but you get the picture.

    It's not going to be easy to solve the dilemma. There is a need to develop indicators to gauge the true costs of development and growth. Such indicators must be as recognizable as those used for economic statistics, for example, Dow Jones and Gross National Product. We need the world to understand that economic growth, standing alone, isn't always good. Methods of distribution have to be improved so that economic gains are shared by more than just a few. Paehlke argues that we need to develop a three-bottom-line perspective: one that accounts for ecological and human social systems, as well as the economic.

    Democracy's Dilemma is not so much a book as it is a course on modern economic times. It covers a lot of ground. It's a good perspective on contemporary problems, and it does a good job of connecting global issues to local consequences. After you read this book, newspaper articles on job loss and the consequences of free trade are more understandable. Paehlke argues that the ultimate answer to democracy's dilemma is not global government, but some form of global governance. The establishment and enforcement of economic, ecological, and social welfare minima so as to prevent jobs from traveling to those places that are the least willing to protect the environment and workers. To date, there is no organized or collective democratic power at the global level up to the task.

    Democracy's Dilemma articulately describes the challenge, but does not offer much in the way of answers. Paehlke cites some trends that lead in the right direction, such as the emergence of global democratic politics and consumer sovereignty movements. But how to reach a compromise between opposing camps (economism vs. environmentalism vs. social welfarism) is not apparent. The challenge is clear, but the answer remains a mystery.

    Richard L. Binder, U.W. 1973, is a partner at Rohde Dales LLP, Sheboygan. For the past 10 years he has been the reporter for GP News, the State Bar's General Practice Section newsletter.

    Law's Dream of a Common Knowledge

    By Mariana Valverde (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2003). 264 pgs. $35. Order, (609) 258-5714.

    Reviewed by Jonathan M. Ward

    Law traditionally recognizes two types of knowledge: lay and expert. Expert knowledge, the province of specially qualified individuals, is typically thought of as being separate from general lay knowledge. Mariana Valverde, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, sees a third hitherto unexplored type - a hybrid between expert and lay that occupies a space just above lay knowledge and is used daily by courts and law enforcement officials alike.

    In Law's Dream of a Common Knowledge, the author exposes this hybrid knowledge through vignettes, focusing first on indecency and obscenity. She examines how Canadian authorities struggle to define "risk of harm," and who is authorized to make such determinations. The contextually varying legal significance of apparently static scientific evidence also is considered. Next she explores the concept of sexual orientation, detailing how law is moving toward a definition that is habit- or culturally-based and away from one based on act or identity. Finally, she examines liquor licensing and the common knowledge of drunkenness, and the way concepts of race (specifically, "Indianess") have affected this knowledge. Throughout the study she focuses not only on sources of knowledge, but also on who the law authorizes to exercise and interpret the findings.

    In this scholarly work, Valverde writes from her position of sociology professor. She apparently is well-versed in post-modern philosophy and assumes that her readers are as well. As a result, she occasionally relies on sociological and philosophical jargon, which at times makes her points less accessible to readers without the requisite background. Despite this, her examination of more obscure aspects of legal decision-making provides ample food for thought for anyone involved in litigation. Finally, her comparison of U.S. and Canadian legal systems (and, for a few chapters, the United Kingdom) makes for an enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in comparative law.

    Jonathan M. Ward, Marquette 2001, is an associate at Axley Brynelson L.L.P., Madison, practicing in litigation. He formerly was a law clerk to the Hon. John C. Shabaz, U.S. District Court judge.

    Medical-Legal Aspects of Drugs

    By Marcelline Burns, Ph.D. (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing, 2003). 468 pgs. Order,

    Reviewed by Michelle L. Atkins

    Lawyers may be challenged to understand and explain how drugs are classified or their effects on performance and behavior. The challenge increases as new medicinal drugs are introduced, and as patterns of drug abuse change. Medical-Legal Aspects of Drugs compiles 16 up-to-the-minute articles that address the most common legal issues concerning the classification, labeling, and behavioral effects of drugs.

    While the chapters assume various degrees of familiarity with the technical aspects of drugs, most are understandable even to the neophyte. The first chapters educate on the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) classification system, pharmacology and toxicology, pharmacokinetics, and laboratory issues. The articles addressing various drugs' performance and behavior effects are absorbing; Trinka Poratta's chapter on rave and club drugs is downright fascinating. Some, however, such as Laurent Rivier's chapter on laboratory technology, are directed less toward educating the average lawyer than toward guiding expert witnesses or laboratory technicians in approaches best suited to legal purposes.

    The chapters include several features, including detailed outlines, glossaries, and bibliographies of academic sources. The authors draw connections where possible to legal application of the information they offer. Although the most common application is to how drugs affect automobile drivers, a chapter is devoted to workplace drug testing, and another to defending drug cases and the collateral issues involved in such defense, such as forfeiture laws, immigration consequences, and the effects on professional licenses.

    Regulation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration receives little emphasis, as do constitutional issues such as search and seizure. However, the book should be a valuable practical guide for lawyers seeking to understand drugs, drug testing, and the influence of drugs on behavior and performance.

    Michelle L. Atkins, Harvard 1999, practices health and corporate law at Quarles & Brady LLP, Milwaukee.

    To Review a Book...

    The following books are available for review. Please request the book and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127,

    Publications and videos available for review

    • Are You There Alone? The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates, by Suzanne O'Malley (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004). 281 pgs.
    • Basic PowerPoint Exhibits, by Deanne C. Siemer & Frank D. Rothschild (Notre Dame, IN: National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2003). 178 pgs.
    • Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century, edited by Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, Michael S. Scott Morton (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003). 443 pgs.
    • LawyerLife: Finding a Life and a Higher Calling in the Practice of Law, by Carl Horn III (Chicago, IL: ABA, 2003). 167 pgs.
    • The Lawyer's Guide to Fact Finding on the Internet, Second Edition, by Carole A. Levitt & Mark E. Rosch (Chicago, IL: ABA, 2004). 640 pgs.
    • Taking and Defending Depositions, by Stuart M. Israel (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2004).344 pgs.
    • Uneasy Alchemy: Citizens & Experts in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor Disputes, by Barbara L. Allen (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004). 224 pgs.

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