The Law: Order in Court

In Detroit, the nation's fifth largest city, womb of the supercharged, fuel-injected future, the first bar of justice for alleged lawbreakers is quaintly called, in a reminiscence of 14th century England, Recorder's Court. Little beyond its name is Chaucerian. Until recently it was a paradigm of judicial systems crumbling under the burden of civic decay. Justin Ravitz, now a judge of Recorder's Court, once described it as "the cesspool of the legal world."

Until 1966 there were only ten recorders, or judges; they rated a notch higher and exercised slightly more authority than the...

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