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The Death of
Jeffrey Stapleton

Exploring the Way
Lawyers Think

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About Hugh Gibbons    

Hugh Gibbons explains: I wrote this manuscript to serve as part of the orientation for new students at the law school. The case of Jeffrey Stapleton was presented during the orientation as a trial, with the new students as the jury. I figured that students would be more accepting of the explanation that I provided than would practicing lawyers, who simply practice without reflection. The fact that lawyers need not reflect on what they are doing to be good at lawyering offered powerful support for my proposition that what is spelled out in this analysis, Perceptual Control Theory, PCT, is simply a correct explanation for how lawyers and all humans actually work.
    Lawyers may want to notice that PCT is well documented and provides a solid explanation for behavior that stands in sharp contrast to the personal, subjective interpretations provided by expert psychology witnesses.
    In this volume I will use a tragedy—the death of a musical prodigy at the hands of a reckless driver—to explore the way our minds work when we “think legally.” All of us think legally many times each day, often so automatically that we are largely unaware of it: Who was responsible for the breakup of a family, the collapse of a corporation, the failure to investigate a crime? When is it permissible to use force, to lie to achieve our ends, to take credit for another’s work, to download something from the internet without permission? These questions roll through our minds with little effort, and the answers to them shape how we think about our behavior.
    To get a sense of our thinking, I will slow it down, hopefully not to the point of tedium. From four decades of teaching law to students from a great many other countries, as well as my own, I’m quite confident that our thinking will be very similar regardless of where we’ve come from. When we’ve resolved the case, I will turn to PCT for a theoretical account of our thinking, which I will present in words and diagrams.

© 2013 Hugh Gibbons. 232 pages, 8.5 x 11 inches, illustrated. Living Control Systems Publishing, Hayward, CA. Paperback: ISBN 978-1-938090-08-0 Hardcover: ISBN 978-1-938090-09-7


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