THE TYRANNY OF GOOD INTENTIONS - How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice, Paul Craig Roberts & Lawrence M Stratton FORUM, Roseville, CA 2000, xiii & 242 pp, (including 40 pp bibliography and 13 pp index) $25, ISBN: 0-7615-2553-X

"What are we to do if those chasing after devils decide to chase after us?" - Sir Thomas More

When a physician at a medical meeting handed me a copy of the dust jacket of this book and asked me to review it for as many medical publications as possible, I was perplexed. Then I listened to two doctors outline the very hazard about which Roberts and Stratton warn. This important book lets us understand the manufactured crimes of which physicians are being accused - which will eventually affect all of us unless we take appropriate action.

Americans who fled tyranny and designed a "land of the free" are losing the accountability of laws that protect them from a tyranny, where government is master rather than servant of the people. The authors feel these erosions of liberty and constitutional order are not due to organized interest groups or the influence of money on the political process. Americans are losing the protection and accountability of law because we have forgotten the importance of these safeguards. We have become emotionally and intellectually disconnected from the thousand-year struggle that established the people's sovereignty over the law.

Americans inherited the English legal system in which law developed as a means of pursuing justice by finding truth. The US Constitution begins with "We the People" to ensure that law protects the people from arbitrary government power and serves the cause of justice. This revered legal system is being replaced by fear, distrust and dissatisfaction. Americans increasingly feel that breaking the law is a random phenomenon with little relationship to guilt or justice.

The authors feel that the primary obligation of each generation is to pass on, undiminished, the institutions of liberty and the legal principles that prevent law from being used as a weapon against the people. Our generation has neglected this responsibility.

Roberts and Stratton provide numerous examples and an extensive bibliography. The truth-seeking and justice-dispensing functions of the criminal justice system have been replaced by a strong executive branch with increasing lawmaking powers that are interpreted with great latitude. They equate this to the Enabling Act of the German Reichstag that gave Hitler dictatorial power and the chain of events that allowed Lenin "unlimited power, resting directly on force."

The 20th century belief in government power as a force for good has encouraged the practice of chasing after devils. Plea-bargaining perverts the system by pressuring defendants to "admit to what did not happen in order to avoid charges for what did happen," which ultimately "permits prosecutors to bring charges in the absence of crimes." Coercing both guilty and innocent defendants into guilty pleas enhances prosecutors' careers and avoids the need for proof. The historic requirement that prosecutors prove the juncture of act and intent to do wrong is diminishing due to legislation, administrative rules and a compliant Supreme Court. Crimes are not solved; they are manufactured.

If administrative assaults against physicians can result in incarceration, fines, loss of retirement funds and medical licensure, no one is safe. We will all be in jeopardy if pursued by prosecutors from Medicare, Medi-Cal or the Medical Board. Reading the first and last chapters of this book while waiting for that late/missed one-hour consult may be far more valuable than the income lost. The book makes clear the unfortunate legacy we may leave to our children and grandchildren, unless we protect ourselves.