The legal system affects all of us on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. We are often fascinated by high-profile court cases. Sometimes we are outraged by court rulings. Yet many of us have false (or outdated) beliefs about the US legal system, which are often perpetuated by movies. Maclen Stanley wrote “The Law Says What?: Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Law (but Really Should!)’ to educate people on the basics of the law.
Here’s a pop quiz:
- Do the police have to stop chasing you if you cross county or state lines?
- Are you allowed to “boobytrap” your home?
- Do the police have a duty to protect you?
- Does “Double Jeopardy” guarantee that you can never be tried twice for the same crime?
- Do the police always need a warrant to search or arrest you?
According to Stanley, the answer to all these questions is either “no” or “not necessarily”*. More importantly, the book explains the reasoning behind some of these laws.
‘The Law Says What’ is a well-written overview of the US legal system with the goal of introducing you to the “interesting, weird, and sometimes irritating things that you don’t know about the law, but really should”1. Stanley manages to cover a lot of ground in only 190 pages. The book is broken down into the following sections:
- The police. Specifically, rules governing police actions, as well as your rights when dealing with members of law enforcement (including fun questions like “are you allowed to flip the bird to police?”).
- Crime and punishment covers marijuana, double jeopardy and civil forfeiture, among others.
- Self-defense talks about when you can legally use deadly force and why “boobytraps” are illegal.
- Your rights discusses the electoral college, abortion, and adverse possession laws.
- In Employers and Landlords, Stanley writes about landlords’ obligation to ensure their tenants’ safety, as well as why and when your employer can be held responsible for your actions. This section also provides information on the small claims court system.
- The court system talks about how bias affects the jury selection process, as well as the purpose of a grand jury. The book ends with some outlandish courtroom exchanges that you will never see on “Law & Order”.
‘The Law Says What’ was a surprisingly entertaining read especially when you consider the topic. The legal system can certainly be dry but Stanley manages to simplify it and make it interesting, even humorous at times. Some of the cases described in the book are upsetting, while others are hilarious. Others still are just plain weird.
Having read other legal introductory books in the past, this was by far the most interesting and fun to read. Overall, I am happy to recommend this informative book to anyone who wants to educate themselves on how the law works and have a better understanding of the legal cases being discussed in the news.
- Maclen Stanley and his wife Ashleigh (who is also an attorney) have a YouTube channel where they discuss various legal topics in a series of short videos. They often cover recent controversial legal cases or news stories.
- The author’s website (https://www.maclenstanley.com/) has a list of additional resources and blog posts on various legal topics. Stanley also lists any books that he is currently reading.
*Disclosure: Inveduco LLC is not a law firm. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. We received a free copy of this book from TCK Publishing with a request to review it. Opinions expressed in this article are solely our own. If you decide to purchase the book through one of the links on this page, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you which helps support our work.
- Page 3, “The Law Says What?”