Professor Robert Burns Discusses “Kafka’s Law” on C-SPAN

August 18, 2015

Northwestern Law Professor Robert Burns sat down with C-SPAN earlier this summer to discusses his 2014 book, Kafka’s Law: “The Trial” and American Criminal Justice.

In the book, Burns argues that the American criminal justice system is beginning to resemble Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and uses the allegory as a lens through which to examine its current flaws.

“There are elements of the American criminal justice system that bear an uncanny and disturbing resemblance to the picture of ‘The Law’ as [Kafka] describes it in the book,” he told Book TV host Peter Slen.

Burns highlights the tension between the way police conduct interrogations, which often lead to plea bargains, by assuming an individual is guilty when the legal system is supposed to afford him or her the presumption of innocence. He argues that returning the tradition of trial by jury to a more central place in American criminal justice can remedy this.